What Happens in an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are used to date pregnancy and to check your baby’s growth and development.

An ultrasound is a quick, non-invasive procedure that is frequently used to accurately assess whether you and your baby are progressing normally during pregnancy. Ultrasound doesn’t use any radiation and is regarded as being completely safe.

You are generally able to have one or two support people with you during the scan but each clinic is different. It may be worth phoning ahead of your appointment to confirm their policy.

The technician performing the scan at the clinic or in the hospital is usually either a radiologist or a sonographer. They will place gel on your abdomen and use a handheld transducer that emits sound waves to examine you and your baby’s anatomy. These waves are reflected back and processed, enabling you to see the images on the screen in real-time as the scan is performed.

In early pregnancy, an internal vaginal ultrasound probe may be used, and if this is needed the radiologist or sonographer will discuss this with you.

For a list of the standard screening test in pregnancy in New Zealand, including ultrasound scans, see our Testing and Screening article.