Somewhere between 11-13 weeks you will be invited to have a scan of your baby. Whether you choose to do this is entirely up to you, but for many couples it is when their pregnancy becomes 'more real' to them.
Without movement of baby... or without any side-effects experienced, for some mums other than the positive pregnancy test it is hard to really engage with their pregnancy.
It is when they see the grainy image of their tiny baby that it all becomes very real.
So what exactly is a scan? Well, an ultrasound machine works by emitting high-frequency sound-waves through a hand-held device called a transducer. These soundwaves bounce off solid objects...such as your baby, but pass through fluids. These sound-waves are then converted into an on-screen image in black and white.
In practice you will be asked to lie down, the room may well be dimmed slightly. The sonographer will then spread a cool gel across your stomach. They will then run the transducer across your belly to get an image.
Sometimes women are disappointed by the workmanlike attitude of their sonographer. I appreciate that it is sad to have someone do your first ever scan who is just 'all business' and no excitement. But allow it to just pass over you if this happens. They may see hundreds of scans a month...but this is your first, and your precious little one.
They may ask you to move about. They may mutter about baby not behaving...pay it no attention. They just wish to make measurements, check the anatomy (as far as possible at this stage) bladder, pelvis, bowels & stomach, heart, skull and brain and legs and arms.
If you are having a nuchal scan to check for chromosomal abnormalities, this will also take place during this scan. They will be measuring the pocket of fluid at the back of your baby's neck. This along with your original blood test will indicate the chances of your baby having an issue such as Down's Syndrome.
Once the scan is complete you will be able to request a print-out of the scan to take home with you. Baby's first picture!
(Do remember to take some cash with you as rarely are these free.)
This process will further strengthen the bond that you have been building. The scan is a feast for the eyes.
Take the time afterwards to place your hands on your belly and thank your baby for its patience. Send it love and nurturing thoughts. You are a team working together for the next 30 or so weeks.