ultrasound, pregnancy

Early OB Ultrasound

Early OB Ultrasound

Hey girl, all those emotions are totally normal. You just had that first positive pregnancy test, and your thoughts are all over the place. We absolutely get it and are here for you! Now that you know you are pregnant, what’s next? It’s time to schedule an early OB ultrasound. 

Early ultrasounds in your pregnancy provide a lot of information. It is amazing how quickly things begin to form inside your uterus right after implantation. Most providers will offer an early ultrasound. This exam has one main goal: to confirm viability of your pregnancy. What does that mean? They want to make sure that you are pregnant in the right location (the uterus) and confirm that there is a fetal heartbeat. Let’s break down the three main expectations you should have for your early ultrasound appointment. 

ultrasound, pregnancy

1. Confirmation of the location of your pregnancy.

This may sound silly, but it is extremely important. During the fertilization and implantation process of a woman’s pregnancy there is a risk that it can occur outside the uterus. The most common place outside of the uterus for this to occur is in the fallopian tubes. You may have heard someone use the term ‘ectopic pregnancy’, they are referring to this topic of fertilization and implantation occurring outside of a woman’s uterus. During your early OB ultrasound, the sonographer will be able to pinpoint exactly where you are pregnant. The good news is that only 1 to 2% of women in the general population develop ectopic pregnancies (Mummert)

2. Presence of fetal heartbeat.

Technology makes it possible to detect a fetal heartbeat as early as 6 weeks. This is the only true way of determining absolute fetal viability. If you are not far enough along in your pregnancy, your provider will schedule a repeat ultrasound to take a second look at the fetal heart rate.

3. Dating of pregnancy.

Did you know that after approximately 10 weeks of pregnancy a fetus is already growing at a specific rate based upon the genetic material, he/she developed from their mother and father?! That is why it is important to date a pregnancy during your first trimester, ideally between weeks 7 and 10 of your pregnancy. The sonographer will measure the fetus from crown (top of fetal head) to rump (fetal bottom) to take a measurement in centimeters that will derive a gestational age for the fetus. Based upon the gestational age, the provider will be able to give you an estimated due date so you can start planning for the future!  

It is common to not be certain of when you became pregnant. Unless you are tracking ovulation you can be one to two weeks off how far along you are. The ultrasound is the key step to determining just how far along you are. If you are not quite 6 weeks there is a chance you will not be able to see the heartbeat yet and you may not be able to see the fetus at all. If this occurs, you will likely be looking at the yolk sac that lives inside of the gestational sac.

Simply put, the gestational sac is the area inside of your uterus where the fetus develops. You can think of it as a giant water balloon that fosters fetal development. The yolk sac is a small circle structure that can be seen during an early OB ultrasound that provides all the hormones necessary for the fetus to grow until the placenta is developed. If the sonographer discovers you are not quite 6 weeks, they will be closely looking at the gestational sac and want to see the yolk sac. This confirms that the environment is suitable for a fetus to develop. In this situation do not be alarmed if your provider schedules you for a repeat ultrasound 7 to 10 days after your original scan.  

What next?

Becoming pregnant kick starts a multitude of questions for all women. Please reach out to us and let us help you work through all those questions. Our clinic is an accredited medical facility that offers free medical grade pregnancy testing and early OB ultrasounds. 

If you are pregnant or have had unprotected sex and fear pregnancy, our clinic is here to help you answer all your questions.  You may call us at 770-334-3856 or text us anytime at 678-861-6780.

Mummert T, Gnugnoli DM. Ectopic Pregnancy. [Updated 2022 Jun 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. 

Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: