Obstetric ultrasound is a technique used to observe the baby in the womb.

An ultrasound scan is a clinical examination performed by a specially trained sonographer or doctor and usually takes about 15 minutes to perform.

You will be offered a first scan at 11-14 weeks to date the pregnancy. This will give you an approximate date for when the baby will be born. A second scan will be offered at 19-20 weeks.

The purpose of this scan is to see if the baby appears normal. While major abnormalities will show up on scan, some problems may not be picked up.

Sometimes the scan cannot be completed at your first visit and you could be asked to return for another scan or be seen in clinic.

This can be simply because your baby is lying in an awkward position.

The sonographer who performs the scan will explain to you what will happen during the examination, and once it is completed she or he will show you your baby in as much detail as possible.

You can obtain a photo of the screen picture of your baby but there will be a small charge for this.

Please note that contrary to popular opinion, the scan is not performed to determine the sex of your baby and this is not looked for unless medically indicated.

If specifically requested, the sonographer may attempt to look at the end of the scan if time permits but there are no guarantees of the accuracy of this prediction.