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Antenatal Screening

18-20 week antenatal scan (low chance)

All women will be offered a 12 week dating scan and an 18- 20 week mid-pregnancy scan also known as the fetal anomaly scan. 

The purpose is to check the baby is developing as expected and to look for any serious health conditions, such as heart problems, spina bifida or chromosomal conditions such as Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. This can help parents decide whether to continue the pregnancy. It can also identify problems that may benefit from early intervention following delivery and in some cases interventions that can be carried out during pregnancy. 

Most people we talked to were broadly aware of this purpose. Some of them felt very well prepared, while others would have liked more detailed information about what the scan looks for.

 

The information about what the 20-week scan was looking for was very thorough.

The information about what the 20-week scan was looking for was very thorough.

Age at interview: 43
Sex: Female
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Did you feel going into the scan that you knew that they were looking for other abnormalities?

Mother' Yes. The information that we got about the twenty week scan from the hospital really explained in a lot of detail what the scan was for and what sorts of things they would be looking at. And so we were nervous, obviously, going into it because it had really set out what things could and couldn't be found as part of the scan. 

But in a way that was also really good that you had a much better idea of how long it was going to take and how carefully they would need to look. And as they were doing the scan they explained a lot about the measurements that they were taking and why they were taking those measurements.

Father' And even things like unfolding its hands, wasn't it? She said they really like to see that.

Mother' Yeah, she was waiting a long time. She said, "Oh I'm trying, I'm just staying here because I just want to see if the baby unclenches their hand, because that's good. We like to see them opening and closing their hands." And then as she was doing it the baby went like that and waved.

One woman who had a scan in California felt her doctor in the UK explained it better. Another suggested the person doing the scan should check that the woman was properly informed. She noted that some scan technicians do a quick check for themselves before turning the screen round to face the woman, which may be a sensible precaution in case something is wrong.

 

The doctor in California who did her 20-week scan did not explain as well as her doctor in the UK.

The doctor in California who did her 20-week scan did not explain as well as her doctor in the UK.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
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And how was it in California? Was it very different to here having the anomaly scan?

To be quite honest, I'm much more impressed with the things that have happened here than I was with my doctor in California. I went to my Mum's doctor in California and he was a perfectly nice man, I'm sure everything was fine, but it was just little things like I couldn't, like I didn't think that the ultrasound machine was as good.

I couldn't see, like it was frustrating to have this anomaly scan but not be able to make out any of the baby's body parts, and not to have things pointed out to me as much. So I was actually very happy to be coming back here and having the baby.

So you felt they didn't really explain enough about what they were doing or...?

Yeah, it was, I, I felt like I would have liked to know what an anomaly scan was and what they were checking for. I mean, I knew they were checking for problems with the organs and things like that. But I found it hard to follow the whole thing. 

I mean, I felt a little bit out of touch with what was going on. I would have liked more information about what they were doing. I got copies of my, of the medical records or whatever from my doctor in California to give to the doctor here and the doctor here pointed out a bunch of things that the doctor in California had never told me about.  

I mean, they were in my file and they were there but he had never explained it to me. And I thought that that was strange that it took my doctor here, reading the notes from that time in California, in order to explain to me what this other doctor had done.

You clearly knew knew, the fact that you used the term anomaly scan, it was looking for defects, but was it just that you weren't quite clear which defects they might be looking for or...?

I think that, and just the actual process of when they have the machine on your tummy and they're clearly looking at specific organs, I would like to have been told, 'So here's the brain, here's what we're looking for as we scan the brain'. Or, 'Here's the kidney'. I mean, I don't even know if I'm choosing correct body parts.  

This is how clueless I am. But I would have just liked to have been told what they were looking at. I mean, I couldn't, I felt a little hopeless because I couldn't see anything on the screen that looked like, 'Oh, that's a kidney' or anything like that. So just a little bit more information would have been nice. 

I think that all doctors, they do this every day, I mean, they see pregnant ladies all the time, so I think they know exactly what's going on. I think that there can just be a little lack of communication between the doctor and, particularly, the first-time mother who is clueless and scared.

 

It would be sensible for sonographers at the 20-week scan to check the woman is properly informed...

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It would be sensible for sonographers at the 20-week scan to check the woman is properly informed...

Age at interview: 36
Sex: Female
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They're a professional in their own right so they must, you know, the first thing they just must be courteous and professional. And I think that probably a good scanner is somebody who will just, you know, just introduce themselves, say what, how long it may take, what the purpose is.  

I think it doesn't hurt to just reiterate what you're there for, you know. Again you know, some people just turn up and they're not really certain of why they're there. They've just been told to go to that scan room and, you know, 'Twenty weeks - you're going to have this done.' So I think it doesn't hurt just to reiterate what's the purpose of the scan, that sometimes they may not say anything and that doesn't necessarily mean that there's any problem, and it might mean that they just need to take a little bit more time in looking for something.  

So it's just taking that little time at the beginning to sort of set the scene of the next twenty minutes, or the next half an hour, I think. And I think for the scanner to say, 'If you have any questions,' you know, either, - whatever, you know, depending on what the scanner likes, you know - to take questions as they come up or at the end, or whatever way it's agreed.  

But I think that's just such a simple thing to do, and to me such an obvious thing to do that it's the sort of thing that always - well, you know, it's one of those things that can get missed out. 

But I think, what I've noticed with all scanners is that they just take a few seconds at the start where the screen is directed at them only - and you know, obviously that's just to make sure that there is a heart beat there and that they know that before they swing the screen round so that you can see it too. So I've noticed that with, you know, the two scans that - three - four scans that I've had, that they always do that to check first.

Have they ever said to you that's what they're doing first?

No, I think it's a very subtle thing I think that they do, that they sit down and they tap in whatever information they have to do, and then it's a very quick, you know, the scanner's placed on your abdomen and it's a very brief few seconds look, and then they'll swing the - as if you're not to know any different. And perhaps that's OK. Perhaps that's OK. 

Because at the end of the day the scan is, it is a stressful thing if you're not used to that environment, if you're not used to having tests done. So maybe, you know, you don't want to over-do the information.

Some people saw the 18-20 week scan as somehow different to screening. They were not aware that terminations can be carried out at any stage of pregnancy where there is a severe abnormality.

 

She felt by the time of the 20-week scan it would be too late to consider ending the pregnancy.

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She felt by the time of the 20-week scan it would be too late to consider ending the pregnancy.

Age at interview: 33
Sex: Female
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And I guess my feeling is also once you get to the point of the 20-week scan, there really isn't much room to do much after that point. And I also kind of felt at peace with that, because I remember sort of feeling - and my husband - we discussed this and saying, 'Well, if there's something wrong with the baby that's fine, you know.'

That you'd just, that's it, you'd go ahead?

Yep, and we accept it, and so that was a kind of interesting feeling to have.

The 18-20 week scan reassures the vast majority of parents that their baby looks fine. Women described many positive aspects, including

  • The joy of seeing the baby and having a photograph
  • Feeling closer to the baby
  • Making the pregnancy seem real (especially for partners)
  • Finding out the baby's sex, although this is not always possible or permitted.

 

She really enjoyed seeing the baby at the 20-week scan. She would have liked to choose which...

She really enjoyed seeing the baby at the 20-week scan. She would have liked to choose which...

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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And what were the experiences of the scans like for you?

Great, I loved them, I loved them. Just the fact that I could see my baby on the screen was just like wow, it was just amazing.

Did you go on your own?

No, with my partner, his dad. But no I didn't find them uncomfortable or anything like that. They were brilliant. And as I said, the fact that I could see my baby it was just like I didn't really want to leave. They used to give me extra long scans.

And what sort of, did they talk to you during it or were they...?

Yeah, yeah.

Right, so you felt you were getting enough?

Yeah. But the only thing that I had a problem with was when they took the pictures at five months. I wanted, because I wanted a specific picture, like his face and then like - but the doctor literally just scanned me and then said, "Oh here's your photo," sort of thing. And it was like, "Oh I don't like this photo," I had that kind of...  But yeah, at my first scan at three months they asked me, "Oh do you like that one?" and we were like clicking away sort of thing.

 

The 20-week scan was a moving experience and the person doing the scan explained everything very...

The 20-week scan was a moving experience and the person doing the scan explained everything very...

Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
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The nurse that did the scan, that was what she did. She was the scanning nurse. I remember it being a pleasant experience, because of all the staff that I had at that point met being really just very matter of fact and rather cold. 

She was the first person that we had contact with who did speak directly to us, who, you know, asked, 'How is your day going?' And 'This is what I'm doing, and I'm going to put the jelly on your tummy, and you look over here and you can see the', you know. And she explained what we were looking at, and she explained what she was looking at, and she said, 'OK, here's the kidney, they're good. And here's the heart, and then you can see the heart on the monitor'.  

And she was really interactive, and it was very helpful. And it was a very moving experience. I remember it brought tears to my eyes to see the baby for the first time and to, you know, see his little heart beating and see him moving, moving around and his head and so on. 

So I do remember that experience as being very warm and pleasant and just a very happy - it was hearing the heart beat for the first time was the first sense of reality. This was an even bigger sense of the reality that there is a real living baby inside.

One woman who had to have an internal scan (using a vaginal probe) because of the baby's position found this did not spoil her enjoyment of the scan. For some people, having to have a full bladder, especially if the person doing the scan then pressed hard on their abdomen, was a minor drawback. Two people mentioned they had heard that the sound waves in a scan may distress the baby, but there is no conclusive evidence for this.

 

The 20-week scan was a lovely experience. She had an internal scan because of the baby's position...

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The 20-week scan was a lovely experience. She had an internal scan because of the baby's position...

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
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And that 20 week scan, where you can actually see legs and arms and a face. How did it feel like seeing the baby on the screen?

That was nice actually, that was really nice. Me and... - my partner didn't come with me to that one, because he was at work and he couldn't get the time off - but his sister came with me. And we were still, we were looking to try and figure out the sex still, and just to see the baby - because she was trying to get one of the face, and the baby kept on hiding, hiding his or her face. 

So every time she went there he would just cover his hand, cover his face with his hand. And you could see it kicking its legs. I found that, I can't think of a word. I think it just may mean, some time, even though when I was three months I know I'm pregnant, but I think I actually felt more pregnant after seeing that second scan. I actually thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be a mum' and it started actually really sinking in after seeing that.  

And she even had to, because the baby was hiding his or her face, I had to get a, - oh, I don't know the name for it. She had to put something up me instead, because the head was down here, so that was the only way that she could. Because she turned me on my side, I went on the other side and he still, he or she still wasn't moving, so she had to put that up me just to find out if the head was all right but she said that everything was fine. 

I didn't mind. I thought, when she first said that I thought, 'Oh my God, it's going to be like a, a smear test.' And then I didn't even really feel that it was really up there. And she was moving it about and taking the head and she said, 'Oh yeah, well, the head's fine, it's the right size and your baby's at the right size' and everything else, and then took it out. 

But I didn't, it didn't really bother me. I think I was so excited anyway seeing the baby on the computer that I think, it didn't really bother me at all, I didn't really think about it.
 

Although most people said scans had made the pregnancy seem more real for their partners, for one father it was buying baby clothes that suddenly made it feel real. One mother felt the 18-20 week scan was an anti-climax after having seen the baby before. A few commented that the quality of the pictures was poor, but other people were impressed by the quality. This may depend on the type and age of equipment being used.

 

Although he enjoyed the 20-week scan, it was buying baby clothes that made the pregnancy seem real.

Although he enjoyed the 20-week scan, it was buying baby clothes that made the pregnancy seem real.

Age at interview: 29
Sex: Female
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The whole set up was very friendly and, you know, I felt that we didn't have to wait too long, which was nice. And it was interesting seeing the child. I mean, I suppose because I've seen a lot of scans for others, in that sense it, there wasn't the interest factor. I think it meant more for my wife than it did for me, because obviously she hadn't seen scans. She wanted to take a picture home and so on and so forth.

So, for you it didn't sort of say, 'Ooh, suddenly, this is my baby. This is real'?

No, to be honest the first time it really came home to me that we were having a baby - obviously intellectually - but emotionally, I suppose, the first time it really came home to me was when we actually bought some baby clothes and you started to visualise a real baby inside these body suits.

So that was before the birth?

Yeah, just 2 weeks before.I mean, it wasn't that I was unprepared but, emotionally, I think that was the first time it really came home.

That's interesting, because often people say, you know, the scan is the point at which it suddenly becomes real for them.

Right.

That this is actually happening and there is a real baby there.

Yeah, but I mean I've heard it said, and read that, you know, for some people it isn't until they've had the screening that they start to bond with the baby inside them, because they still have this kind of opt-out clause, which I think is very sad.

 

The 20-week scan was reassuring but not as exciting as she expected, and the pictures were unclear.

The 20-week scan was reassuring but not as exciting as she expected, and the pictures were unclear.

Age at interview: 32
Sex: Female
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It, for me personally it wasn't as momentous as perhaps I would have expected, given the fact that it was the first time I'd had it and the fact that you can see so much more. I think hearing from the person doing the scan that everything was fine was of course reassuring, but the actual experience of seeing the baby at a more developed stage wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be because I couldn't get a full idea of what was going on on the screen.  

To me it seemed really indistinct, lots of bubbles all over the place and the odd body part floating in and out of view, but how they were all connected together was very, it was totally obscure. And that, and we were relying on the ultrasonographer to interpret to a large extent the images and saying, 'That's a foot' or, 'Can you see the spine?'  

And if I was being totally honest, I couldn't really. I mean there were some parts that I did see but it wasn't like seeing your whole baby on the screen or, I mean we saw its mouth open at one point which was, you know, quite entertaining but . . .

 Did you get a picture? Did you come away with that?

No, we didn't because there was you know, it wouldn't have meant anything. There was no one image that we could have said, 'Take a picture of that, it'll show us our baby'. I'd heard from friends that it was just an amazing experience to see, you know, a really fully formed baby on screen and so I suppose I was expecting a certain sort of completeness to the image and that didn't happen for me.  

And also the ultrasonographer had trouble getting the baby into the right position to actually get, to actually do the sort of diagnostic tests that he needed to do on the spine. He just, the baby was in the wrong position and it got to the point where they were saying, 'Oh, you know, we can't actually see what we need to see for this final category of check and you'll, perhaps the best thing is for you to come back again another day when the baby's in a different position.'  

And I must say I had, I wasn't particularly keen to take that option up. And fortunately the baby ended up co-operating and moving at the last minute so they could do it, but they seemed to have trouble generally getting the right presentation on the screen. Which was the same actually with the first scan with this pregnancy. So I don't know if it's something about the way the baby's positioned at the moment.

A very important concern for people was the way the person doing the scan (sonographer) communicated with them. Some people could compare different experiences; one woman had a senior consultant the first time, who was expert but brief, whereas the second time the scan was performed by a specialist midwife who recognised what an important emotional experience this is for parents.

 

Her first 20-week scan was professional but brief. The second time she had a specialist midwife...

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Her first 20-week scan was professional but brief. The second time she had a specialist midwife...

Age at interview: 29
Sex: Female
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Did you feel you were being adequately informed during it?

Yes I think so. The anomaly scan was done by the senior consultant in the scanning department, and as a result was extremely quick. And I know him, and know he's the, you know, the most qualified person to do that, you know, that scan, so in that sense I was very happy.  

But in the actual experience of the scan was not particularly good because it was just a, you know, he could do it so fast, technically he's so good that he'd been down the check list inside two minutes and after that was just doing things that interested him.  

And there was, you know, yeah, he said, you know, "This is your baby's face." And we wanted to know the sex, and he was a bit flippant about that, and I said, "No I really do want to know, go back and have a proper look." And of course he did, but it was all just all over very quickly and we didn't really see much.  

Whereas this time I've just had my anomaly scan, and it was a completely different experience because I was in the normal run-of-the-mill clinic and the scan, I think I was, we were very lucky, we had the scan done by a specialist midwife. And I didn't even know there were any midwives who did scanning, but apparently there are two.  

And she's obviously made a conscious decision that it is a psychological experience for the parents, and given that it is, why not make it a nice one? She has the patter and, you know, it was lovely, we saw everything. We had it all explained in detail, and it was great.
 

Some sonographers talk throughout the scan, explaining what they are looking at and whether it is as expected. This approach was preferred by virtually everyone we spoke to, including a French woman and her British partner who had their scan in France.

 

At her 20-week scan in France she was given detailed information and explanation. She and her...

At her 20-week scan in France she was given detailed information and explanation. She and her...

Age at interview: 28
Sex: Female
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Well, the doctor started with the head of the baby and was going through every single muscle, members, organs, everything. He started with the cranium, with the brain, and he showed us the flux of blood in the brain, on and off. He measured everything' the ears, the nose, everything, and he told us he had, well, our baby had big ears.  

Then he went to the neck, the throat, and there was, how do you call it? slices, that's how he called it, slices of the body. He went through the heart and again the flux of blood going through the heart. It was funny, well, quite a nice shape, actually, the heart, the slice of heart.  

Then he went through the lungs and the oxygen going through the lungs, and then the belly and all the organs, the liver and all that. The he skipped the middle part, because we didn't want to know. And he went through measuring the hips and the legs and the knees and the toes and everything possible, because my husband was born with, club feet?

Club feet.

Yes. My husband straight away asked, 'Oh, is his feet all right?' and the doctor said, 'As far as we can see they are all right. We can't confirm that they will be all right later, but as far as now is concerned yes, everything is fine.' So that was quite nice to again hear the heartbeat, and hear all the fluids going from me to my baby's body. That was rather nice, and we kept, a very long spreadsheet with all of the, you know, these heart beats and fluid beats and slices of bodies.  

So he was talking all the way through, pretty much?

Yes. And the nice surprise was that he was fluent in English, so he was talking it through it with me in French and then translating it into English to my husband, who was delighted to actually understand all these strange words. 

And it sounded from what you said as though he did try to say, 'This is only, we are hoping that everything is alright, we can't confirm.'

Yes, yes.

So you felt you came away with an understanding?

Reassured, yes, reassured especially for my husband who was making a big point of it. Reassured, but we knew that, I mean, if something wrong was happening there was nothing we could really do about it and there's nothing the doctor could do about it either. That was one of these things of conception - you never know what's the surprise going to be at the end.

Staff who are talkative during a scan may suddenly go quiet if they notice something unusual, and this can create worry. Some staff explained that they would stay silent while they concentrated on the scan. Most people we talked to still felt they would rather know immediately if staff had seen something unusual.

 

They had an anxious moment at the 20-week scan when the sonographer paused briefly. They felt he...

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They had an anxious moment at the 20-week scan when the sonographer paused briefly. They felt he...

Age at interview: 33
Sex: Female
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Then the next stage really after that was the 20 week scan. The person who did the scan I think already knew the kind of background and the slight anxiety, and was very good and was very thorough. And there was a moment or so when he kind of paused over the heart. 

You kind of, you know, both of us were breathing in. And he was kind of saying, 'Normal', and at the end of it he said to us 'You know, it looks fine, and if it wasn't I would immediately tell you.' Which was kind of very reassuring.

One of the things that we've been talking about is the extent to which the ultrasonographer actually tells you at the time what they're looking at and like you say, when they pause over the heart, do they actually say, 'I'm unsure whether there's something wrong here,' or did he tell you that he was going to wait until the end to tell you or? How did he communicate during and after?

What he did is, the form that you have when they're doing the scan is kind of a tick box list of the head, the brain, you know - is there a brain there? Are there toes there? And what he did is really went down there and said 'Normal, normal, normal, normal' to the person who was kind of taking the notes. 

And when it got to the heart he kind of paused, so you kind of noticed it, and then he said, 'Normal.' And that kind of made you slightly, it was just the pause that made you slightly nervous, but then at the end of it he said, you know, this statement of saying 'It's fine, you know. As far as I can see it's, it's fine.'

Would you rather he'd done anything differently? Would it have helped if he had said anything at that point or - ?

No, I mean I thought he was very good, in the sense that he was - I mean, talking to other people he is apparently one of the leading kind of experts on doing this, and he was just very straightforward. So you felt that he was saying what he thought and he wasn't trying to hide anything from you.

A moment of worry was described by a woman with previous experience of a scan which found the baby had died. She would have preferred a more immediate explanation.

 

When staff spotted something unusual during the 20-week scan, she was very anxious and would have...

When staff spotted something unusual during the 20-week scan, she was very anxious and would have...

Age at interview: 43
Sex: Female
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The twenty week scan, how was that?

Father' Great.

Mother' That was great, wasn't it? That was, it was fantastic. It was, and that was incredibly reassuring for us, because the there was one bit where - oh, it was awful wasn't it? There was one part where she was doing, it had all been going swimmingly and it was fantastic, and it was so reassuring to see every part of the baby, apart from being able to tell what gender it was which I'd really wanted to know and they couldn't tell me. 

But it was all going fantastically and then she sort of said, "Ooh, ooh. Ooh, I'm not sure, I think I, I just need to go and check with, I would like someone else to come and look at this." And of course then we were just in complete horrors, and I had, and another, another - I can't remember what the name of the people is who does the scans

Ultrasonographers 

Mother' Yes, the ultra?

Sonographer. Or it may have been a doctor.

Mother' No, it was another ultrasonographer came in, and I had a placental strand. So it meant that part of the placenta, there was a separate part of the placenta and it looked almost like a thick hair. It was not that, she showed me it on the screen and it was at the top of the womb, so it wasn't - she said if it had been across the cervix it would've been, they would've been more concerned about it, but because it was out of the way and it wasn't impeding the baby's movement at all they weren't concerned about it. 

But that was a horrible two minutes while she said, "Ooh". And I wish she'd said something like, "Oh, I think I can see this. I need somebody else to come and have a look. It's not a ser-, it doesn't matter." And maybe she did try to do that a little bit, but it didn't allay, we were sitting in complete terror for a minute while she went and got somebody else to come and check with her.

Father' Well, I'm not sure I would say quite that, I felt from her tone that it was fairly, she didn't seem overly concerned, to be honest, I felt.

Mother' It obviously didn't make any difference to me then, I was absolutely terrified.

Father' Yes.

Mother' For me it was still terrifying, even though [partner] felt, you felt that she was being upbeat about it and that there was something that she needed to check but it was OK. For me it needed to be super upbeat for me not to be absolutely terrified, it would've really needed to be, "This really is OK. This really is OK. There's just one thing I need to check, I'm sure I know what it is and it's absolutely fine," and it would've really had to have been. 

Because otherwise, I guess it's that whole thing about how much you take in when somebody's explaining things to you that you know nothing about, and it's like anything with any condition or to do with doctors or whatever. You realise, it's only afterwards you realise how little of the conversation you actually took in and what feeling you got from that.

One person thought it must be difficult for staff to check if there is something they are not sure about if the woman is watching throughout.

 

It must be difficult for the person doing the scan to check something they are unsure about if...

It must be difficult for the person doing the scan to check something they are unsure about if...

Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
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I seem to remember thinking some time in my last two pregnancies how different it was, and how much more difficult it must be if the person, the mother is seeing the scan the whole time, for them to go back and check if there is anything they think, 'Hmm, I'm not sure about that'.  

Whereas if I - yeah, I'm sure with my first two they did do a scan, but I just, they said, it was a case of, 'We're checking this, this and this,' and, you know, they got on with it. And then, 'We'll see if we can find a picture so that you can see it,' and then they'd turn it round.  

So that was sort of a, it's a bit like when they actually let you hear the heartbeat, but you know that that's not really why they're doing it. They're not doing it so that you can hear the heartbeat, they are doing it because they're checking that everything's OK. So I think yes, it probably does make it different, but I think it must be harder for them to actually check something out if there's something they're not sure about.

Were there ever any -

Because it's more obvious.

 - any moments in either of your two latest pregnancies when they were doing the scan when you thought, 'Ooh, have they found something?' Anxious moments?

Well, I think this business when she couldn't, she couldn't trace down all the vertebrae. Because it was quite clear that she was trying to do so, or that she was trying to do something. I mean, at least, she was at least good enough to tell me what it was she couldn't do.  

Well, I was going to say how much did they talk to you in each case about...?

They talked quite a lot. Certainly with my third one, I can remember them talking through 'Now we're looking at this, now we're looking at that. We're just checking this, and you can see that the heart valves are working' and things like that. I can remember that. It was great.

A few staff did not explain they would be silent, and this made some people worry. This is discussed further in the '18-20 week scan (being told something may be wrong)'.

Not talking was sometimes more to do with pressure of work. One woman felt staff did not have much time to communicate properly and came away anxious that something might have been missed.

 

Staff seemed uncommunicative on the day of her 20-week scan, and she felt anxious something might...

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Staff seemed uncommunicative on the day of her 20-week scan, and she felt anxious something might...

Age at interview: 36
Sex: Female
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Well, the twenty week scan was done at this local hospital, and I can remember being very excited about it, because I thought we were going to see a really good picture of the baby' So I was quite excited about this anomaly scan. And it was a very cold day. I think it might have even been New Year's Eve or something. It was very close to the holiday, I remember that.  

And it took us a little while to find. And it was very unfortunate that there was little communication, we felt, between the scanner and ourselves. It was almost as if they just wanted to get through their quota of women for that day. And I'm sure it's because it was the holiday period, that's the only thing I can think of that, you know, that they really didn't want to be there.  

So whilst it was lovely seeing, again it was lovely seeing our baby on the scan, there was a definite lack of attention to us. And I must admit I came away feeling really worried, because I felt that I hadn't seen anything, that it was sort of vaguely indicated to me that that was the heart and vaguely indicated that that was, you know, that was the spine. And I do remember coming away feeling really disappointed, you know, deflated that I hadn't come away reassured that everything was OK.  

Deep down I think I knew, you know, in my heart of hearts that if there was a problem I think instinctively I would know. But there was just something about it that made me think, 'Oh, what a let-down, what a complete let-down.' And just felt very upset about it really. It did take me quite a while afterwards to sort of get past that. 

And I remember when I eventually went to the hospital where I had my daughter, I actually requested another scan, because I just thought, 'Oh, I think they've missed something.' because I was churning it over in my mind so much I had to be talked to, really. And they said, 'Don't, you know - they've written down here everything that they've seen. Don't worry about it, you know. They obviously have done what they were supposed to do.'  

But it was just that, it was the feeling that, because they didn't communicate - it was just, there was no sort of pleasantries I suppose, and it doesn't take much to give a brief smile to somebody, you know. You're not asking for too much.

Although some people had gone to the 18-20 week scan alone, most felt it was important to have someone with you for support. Two women said their partner had missed the scan because they were still trying to find a hospital car parking space.

Many experiences discussed here are common to other types of scan - see also 'Early dating scans' and 'Combined screening for Down's syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities'.

For further information on screening tests please see our pregnancy resources.

 

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.

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