Given the current circumstances, COVID-19 has impacted a wide range of free services usually available through the NHS. Whilst staff are doing their best to minimise disruption, the pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on doctors, nurses, and various facilities over the past 12 months.
This strain on the NHS has meant that many women have been experiencing rescheduled and cancelled midwife appointments. Many of these meetings are currently being done online rather than in person.
It is crucial for all expecting mothers to still have regular sonograms and guidance sessions. Hospitals and clinics are being cleaned thoroughly to ensure the safest space possible, but for many, there’s no place quite like home.
Given the circumstances, more women have turned to at-home sonography, reducing the unnecessary risk of visiting over-stretched hospitals and/or GP surgeries. This minimises time spent in potentially infectious areas as an expecting mother and provides a greater level of comfort to the experience as a whole.
We’ve detailed a range of at-home scans that we would recommend in place of NHS services, should that be the avenue you’re looking down, as well as the benefits of each.
At-Home Scans and TestingTo begin with, let us share with you some of the key benefits of at-home scans and how they work.
The NHS deems there to be no evidence of pregnant women being more vulnerable to COVID or its symptoms. This said, expecting mothers are at high risk from other viruses such as common flu. Because of this, women who are currently pregnant are still considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ as a precaution.
At-home scans are provided by fully trained medics with high-end equipment, providing the same level of care you would receive at a hospital or clinic. The main difference is that you are able to receive face-to-face support from the comfort of your own home, all whilst staying up to date with your recommended scans.
All necessary COVID safety precautions are taken by visiting medics in order to keep you safe and feeling comfortable at all times.
Pre-Pregnancy TestsThere are various tests in place that women can take pre-pregnancy. A Follicle Tracking Scan is a common test for women who are looking to either conceive naturally or through IVF. Tracking of follicles allows medics to determine the optimum time to successfully conceive.
The follicular growth pattern is assessed by your referrer, who may recommend further scans performed at 1-2 day intervals to track the follicles as they develop.
For those having IVF treatment, fertility specialists often request a baseline follicle tracking scan on days 2-4 of your cycle. They will then plan your ovarian follicular stimulation based on these findings and start stimulating your ovaries with medication.
In addition to the Follicle Tracking Scan, a Fertility Check Scan is also available. This test gives women an accurate idea of how long they have left to have a baby.
Early Pregnancy Scans
Taking a pregnancy test with the aid of a trained medic is becoming increasingly more common. Having professional guidance throughout a test reduces the chance of a false initial test result, and the at-home process has proved popular during COVID. This test is known as a Pregnancy Test (Urine hCG).
A 5-8 week scan in the first trimester isn’t usually standard practice, but it’s an effective way to confirm pregnancy in the early stages, particularly for those who’ve used IVF. At this stage, it’s too early to see the baby in great detail, but you’ll often be able to detect a heartbeat from the 6th week onwards. This at-home test is called an Early Pregnancy Scan, 5-8 weeks.
And finally, one of the most anticipated scans of pregnancy is the First Trimester (Dating) Scan 11-14 weeks test. The sonographer will estimate when your baby is due (the estimated date of delivery, or EDD) based on the baby's measurements.
The First Trimester Scan is generally performed to assess certain major structural conditions. This pregnancy ultrasound scan can confirm that the baby's heart is beating, as well as the number of babies (i.e. twins or triplets). Your child’s head, brain, face, heart, stomach, bladder, hands, and feet can be seen at this point. The sonographer will also look at the placenta, amniotic fluid, and umbilical cord for any irregularities.
A viability scan can be taken at any point during your pregnancy and is generally conducted if a woman is experiencing abnormal pain or bleeding. Those who have miscarried previously may choose to use this as reassurance at a later stage of the pregnancy. This test will also check that the pregnancy sac is located within the uterus, ruling out an ectopic pregnancy.
VisitHealth offers all of the above sonography tests and more, and they’re all delivered by our professionally trained medics from the comfort of your own home. If you would like to see an overview of each sonography scan available, including pricing, please click here.
Alternatively, you can view our full range of recommended pregnancy tests, as well as how they’re conducted, by clicking here.
To speak with one of our friendly and expert team members, please click here. They will be happy to help with any questions you may have.