Ultrasounds give you a window into your baby's world. More and more women are getting ultrasounds very early in pregnancy. These early ultrasounds provide comfort and reassurance to the expectant mother. They also help with dating your pregnancy properly and getting an accurate due date.
When is the earliest you can see a heartbeat on ultrasound?
At about six weeks into pregnancy (four weeks from conception), you should be able to see your baby's heartbeat on ultrasound. The typical heart rate at this age is about 100 beats per minute. As your pregnancy progresses, your baby's average heartbeat will be between 120 and 160 beats per minute.
What if I don't see a heartbeat?
Your doctor will not only be looking for a heartbeat, she will also be looking for a gestational sac. She will measure the size of the baby. This will help her to determine your baby's age. If your baby's size is smaller than expected, your due date may be off. It is important to keep in mind that a due date is an estimate based on the start of your last menstrual period. If your cycles are irregular or you ovulated late in your last cycle, this increases the chances of your due date being off. Performing an ultrasound just a few days earlier than six weeks may not yield a visible heartbeat. If your baby is measuring smaller in size, your doctor will likely perform a repeat ultrasound in a week or two and order lab work to check your hCG levels.
If your baby is measuring six weeks or beyond and you do not see a heartbeat on ultrasound, your doctor will discuss the likelihood of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. She may order lab work including hCG levels. Due to possible errors in dating or possible equipment errors, she may also order a repeat ultrasound in three to five days.