What to Expect at an 8 Week Ultrasound

Feb 14, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

An 8 week ultrasound can be both exciting and a bit scary. If this is your first ultrasound, you’ll be understandably anxious. Getting a glimpse of your baby for the first time will be a memorable moment.

If you're not sure when you conceived, or have had a previous miscarriage or pregnancy complications, an 8 week scan may be recommended. There's a lot which can be seen at 8 weeks gestation, including the baby's heartbeat and early development. It will also be possible to work out the baby's due date, which is why an 8 week ultrasound is often called a dating scan.

Reasons for an 8 week ultrasound

Anytime between 8 and 12 weeks pregnant, your healthcare professional might suggest that you schedule your first ultrasound appointment. The main reason for this scan is to confirm the gestational age of your baby. This date is based on your baby's size and development and will be a very close estimation.

Why would I have an 8 week scan?

There are a few reasons to have an 8 week scan:
  • To check for bleeding or spotting. An 8 week pregnant ultrasound can help to check where bleeding may be coming from.
  • To check for multiple pregnancies.
  • To check the size of your embryo.
  • To confirm that your baby has a heartbeat.
  • To check your pelvic organs.
  • To see if the embryo has imbedded in the uterus, not the fallopian tubes, which is called an ectopic pregnancy.
  • To confirm the gestational age.
Most commonly, an 8 week scan is done vaginally. A lubricated probe is inserted into the vagina and an image seen on a screen. Sonographers always seek consent for the procedure to be done and ask if the woman prefers she insert the probe herself. You’ll need to have a full bladder for best results.

Another option is for a transabdominal ultrasound. However, at 8 weeks pregnant it can be difficult to see very much through the abdominal wall.

The sonographer will talk with you about what they're looking for and what they can see. There will be times when they won’t say much and instead, they will be concentrating on what they're doing. They’ll be typing into a keyboard at the same time as looking at the screen. Specifically, they’ll be taking measurements, checking for growth markers, and doing a comprehensive check on the baby's development, as well as where it has implanted in your uterus.

The sonographer will only be able to give you general information about what they find. After the 8 week scan, the findings will be read and reported on by a doctor who specializes in reading X-rays and scans. This report will be sent back to your healthcare provider.

Don’t be afraid to ask your sonographer questions. If this is your first ultrasound it's very normal that you would be curious about what you see on the screen.

You at 8 weeks pregnant

Though you may not feel very different, there's lots going on in your uterus. By 8 weeks pregnant your uterus is around the size of a tennis ball. You may feel a sense of pressure or heaviness, especially by the end of the day. At times, pregnancy cramps could cause a bit of discomfort.

Pregnancy hormones may also be causing you to feel a little more emotional and nauseated, but they all have an important job to do. Supporting your baby to grow and thrive is a 24 -hours-a-day process. Don’t be concerned if you're feeling tired; that's normal at 8 weeks pregnant.

Your baby at 8 weeks

At eight weeks pregnant, your baby will measure about ½ inch from the top of its head to its little tail. At an 8 week scan, it's possible to see the embryo's development, especially their big head and small body.

Your little one will also start to make involuntary movements, like a slight flicker or a jump. These movements are extremely tiny, so you won’t be able to feel them. However, if your baby is awake and active, you might see some movements on the screen.

Development at 8 weeks

  • Their nose is starting to show. It will look short and rather snubbed.
  • Lips.
  • The inner ear and tongue.
  • The upper jaw and roof of the mouth are coming together.
  • Their eyes are forming, but they are well protected by a layer of skin.
  • Leg and arm buds are forming.
  • Webbed fingers.
  • Their little tail is becoming smaller.

Frequently asked questions about an 8 week scan

Can my partner come to my 8 weeks ultrasound?

It's generally a good idea for partners or a support person to come as well. This is especially valuable if there have been early pregnancy complications. Generally, an 8 week pregnant scan is a time to enjoy and share.

Where would I go for my 8-week scan?

Your healthcare provider will recommend a clinic which does pregnancy ultrasounds. You may also be referred to a hospital to have a scan.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.