HealthClic’s medical director Dr Anuj Chaturvedi gives one concerned reader his advice on growth scans
Q: I’m 32 weeks and my midwife has suggested I have a growth scan. What is this and how important is it?
A third trimester ultrasound is not necessary for all women but if your midwife has specifically recommended this, then it may be to check for any complications or to assess the size, anatomy and wellbeing of your baby. There is usually nothing to be concerned about. The scan may also be simply to assess the position of the baby as you near your delivery date, or to review things following on from something that was picked up during your last ultrasound.
Often, if you have experienced worrying symptoms such as pain, contractions, reduced foetal movement or vaginal bleeding, or have an underlying condition (such as high blood pressure), your doctor will probably send you in for a third trimester ultrasound. Conditions like this could influence the growth of your baby, so it is a good idea to keep a close eye on foetal development. This scan may also be undertaken due to having twins, as twins are at greater risk of growth issues.
Privately, many women opt for a growth scan to provide reassurance that baby is growing well and to enjoy the experience of seeing their baby on 3D or 4D images. Ultrasound scans are totally safe, so many couples choose to have a growth scan for their own peace of mind and for memories.
On the NHS, if you have a straightforward pregnancy then you will not have any further scans after about 20 weeks.
I would advise anyone hoping to conceive to plan their pregnancy with their GP, taking into account diet, wellbeing, any underlying conditions and risk factors. Each individual will need to prepare for a baby in a different way to maximise the chances of a healthy, happy pregnancy. I look after our pregnant members in this same way; it is important to improve health literacy surrounding pregnancy not only for women but also their partners and families; who often play a huge supporting role.
Dr Anuj Chaturvedi, medical director and GP at HealthClic