Compulsory and Optional Pregnancy Scans in Singapore

Compulsory and Optional Pregnancy Scans in Singapore

Do you which scans you need to take during pregnancy, mums?

Pregnancy brings many changes to an expectant mum’s body. Not only are there random cravings, and morning sickness, but there are also lifestyle changes that are important to ensure the little one develops normally. How can you ensure that your little one develops as normally as you would want him to? Here’s a list of scans during pregnancy that all expectant mums should know of. 

list of scans during pregnancy

What are the list of scans during pregnancy that you should be aware of?

List of Scans During Pregnancy: What Is an Ultrasound Scan? 

Many pregnancy scans use ultrasound to image your baby. Ultrasound is made of high-frequency sound waves that you can’t hear.

These ultrasound waves pass through your body. And when they bounce back, to be detected by the imaging machine, they form images of the organs inside you.

By being able to see these images, a radiologist can understand the condition of your baby. 

Ultrasounds scans require you to lay down on a flat surface in a dim room. The doctor will apply some gel on your abdomen which is used to easily spread the ultrasound waves.

He will use a probe and start moving it around your abdomen, which will show images of your baby in the computer connected to the probe.

Once the image appears, the gel can be wiped off and you can resume your normal activities. 

Although uncommon, medical professionals may also use a vaginal probe if you have been pregnant for approximately five to six weeks. 

Rest assured that ultrasound scans – whether on the abdomen or through the vagina – are painless and completely safe for both the expectant mum and the baby. 

List of Scans During Pregnancy that Are Compulsory

1. Dating and Viability Scan

Exactly what is it, and how far into my pregnancy should I take this scan?

The Dating and Viability scan is the first scan you will need to take in your pregnancy. 

Your first ultrasound scan is usually performed while you are in the first trimester of pregnancy (i.e. weeks 1-12), and normally during the first five to six weeks of your pregnancy. Detailed scans can be taken when you are eight to twelve weeks into pregnancy.

By undergoing this scan, you and your doctors can have an idea of what the baby looks like.

Normal pregnancies should show an early pregnancy sac in the uterus with the fetus floating inside it. Your doctor should also be able to see your little one’s heart beating by the sixth week of pregnancy. 

Why is this scan performed? 

This scan is performed to obtain a variety of important information, such as: 

  • How long you’ve been pregnant. Doctors have a way of measuring how much your baby has grown and can estimate how long you’ve been pregnant for.  
  • Your expected date of delivery (EDD), which is critical for your doctors to advise and guide you along your pregnancy journey better. 
  •  Knowing your EDD also makes it easier for you to manage your own life. A dating scan can help you handle employment commitments, such as maternity leave and organise for baby care ahead of your due date.
  • Whether you are pregnant with twins or triplets.
  • Whether your pregnancy is occurring in the right place.  Almost all pregnancies develop in the womb. But very rarely (in 1-2% of pregnancies), a pregnancy can occur in the Fallopian tubes, which is known as an ectopic pregnancy.
list of scans during pregnancy

All scans in the list of scans during pregnancy are safe for mummy and baby

2. Nuchal Translucency Scan 

Exactly what is it, and how far into my pregnancy should I take this scan?  

The nuchal translucency scan is normally performed while the fetus is between 77 to 97 days old (i.e. 11 weeks to 13 weeks 6 days) or when your baby measures around 45mm (1.8 inches) to 84mm (3.3 inches).

The collection of fluid beneath the skin at the back of your baby’s neck is known as nuchal translucency (NT). It is this amount of fluid that is measured during the scan. 

This scan is usually performed with a probe over your the abdominal area. Still, if the your little one is positioned differently such that his physical traits cannot be observed, doctors may opt to carry out the scan through the vagina instead. 

While it’s perfectly normal for all babies in the womb to have some fluid in the back of their necks, a baby with Down Syndrome has more fluid. Hence, this scan is mostly used to check if a baby has Down Syndrome. 

Are there other reasons why this scan is performed?

This test is also performed to examine if your little one has any physical irregularities or genetic issues.

Doctors will use the information obtained from this scan to determine whether the baby has a genetic condition, such as congenital cardiovascular defects, Down Syndrome or other rarer genetic conditions such as Patau or Edward’s Syndromes.

Here are some of the things the test looks out for: 

  • Being able to see the nasal bone or baby’s nose bone is a good indicator of whether the baby has Down’s Syndrome or not. A baby missing its nose bone carries a higher risk of Down Syndrome.
  • A baby with a skin fold that is thicker than normal may be a sign that your little one has Down Syndrome.
  • If your baby has more than the normal range of fluid in the back of his neck. An NT of less than 3.5mm is considered normal when your developing baby is between 45mm (1.8in) and 84mm (3.3in) in length. 

This test has a success rate of about 80% and is completely safe your little one.

list of scans during pregnancy

List of scans during pregnancy: These scans are in place to ensure your baby is growing well.

3. Foetal Anomaly Scan

Exactly what is it and how far into my pregnancy should I take this scan?  

The Foetal Anomaly scan is an ultrasound scan performed 18 to 20 weeks into your pregnancy (about the fifth month), and may also be called the mid-pregnancy scan. This is also when you can learn about the gender of your child, if you wish. 

During this time, your unborn baby has grown sufficiently large for his major organs to be carefully observed. The main aim of this pregnancy scan is to check whether your little one’s organs are developing properly, and if not, to understand how to manage the situation properly.

The ultrasound procedure will be executed by a sonographer or obstetrician. They will use ultrasound machines that are different and more advanced than your previous scans, as these machines have outstanding resolution for imaging, and are 70% accurate in revealing all abnormalities. 

Why is this scan performed?

The Foetal Anomaly scan is a necessary scan to check whether your unborn baby has any congenital defects.

This scan also checks whether your baby has any anatomical irregularities. Your doctor will check the:

  • outline of the head
  • heart
  • largeness and uniformity of the heart chambers, heart valves and how the great blood vessels are oriented
  • lungs
  • spine
  • brain
  • spine – if it straightens normally and is covered by skin
  • bones in the legs or arms 
  • hands and feet
  • fingers and toes
  • liver
  • stomach
  • intestines 
  • kidneys
  • bladders
  • sex of your child
  • facial features for conditions like cleft lip or cleft palate 
  • location of the placenta and if the amniotic fluid is enough

The physical appearance of these organs are good indicators of genetic conditions in the baby. More tests can be applied to further understand whether your baby is suffering from such conditions or not. If your baby is indeed suffering from any issue, then action can be taken to manage the progression of further damage. 

In terms of accuracy, although the structures can be seen, the identifying of structural problems may not be 100% accurate. The diagnostic accuracy can vary due to multiple factors, such as  maternal obesity​, abdominal scars, fetal position and reduced amniotic fluid. 

4. Growth Scans

Exactly what is it and how far into my pregnancy should I take this scan?  

The growth scan is another ultrasound scan normally done while you are 32 to 36 weeks (or eight to nine months) pregnant. This scan is important in that your doctor can keep track of how your little one is growing. Expect some baby height measurements during your visits to the doctor during this time, too. 

Why is this scan performed? 

As you end the second trimester and enter the third, your baby should be growing properly, and this scan is done to affirm that.

The doctor will check:

  • That the amniotic fluid levels are enough, which sheds light on if the baby is healthy or not.
  • How the baby is positioned in the womb, and where the placenta is. This information will be important in helping medical professionals decide the best possible way for you to give birth to your baby – whether by normal delivery or if a C-section is needed.
list of scans during pregnancy

A 3D scan is not compulsory in the list of scans during pregnancy, but can show your baby to you in perfect detail

List of Scans During Pregnancy that Are Optional 

1. Foetal Echocardiogram

Fetal echocardiograms are very alike to ultrasound. The main difference is that it is much more specific. The sound waves are projected to plot out how the heart looks like. The scan is mostly done when you are 18 to 24 weeks pregnant, and mainly allows the medical professionals to:

  • Analyse your little one’s internal heart structure. This helps determine if the heart has grown properly. 
  • Check if the heart is functioning properly. They will check whether blood is flowing irregularly through the heart or whether it is beating abnormally.

If you are concerned about your unborn baby and would like to undertake a fetal echocardiogram, do visit Mount Elizabeth Hospital today!

2. Colour Doppler Scans 

Your doctors can also employ a more special ultrasound scan called the Doppler ultrasound. Colour Doppler scans can be undertaken during the second trimester (between 20-22 weeks of pregnancy) and third trimester.

This ultrasound is used to check for particular pieces of information, such as:

  • If your baby has delayed physical growth or development
  • To confirm whether the baby has anemia (below-average hameoglobin levels) or not 
  • The current state of blood flowing through the placenta
  • The general health and biophysical profile of the baby   

In SIngapore, Colour Doppler scans can be undertaken in Thomson Medical.


3. 3D/4D Ultrasonography Scans

Exactly what is it and how far into my pregnancy should I take this scan? 

3D/4D Ultrasonography scans are a more sophisticated option compared to normal ultrasound scans.

Using special imaging software, these scans provide a clear, lifelike, 3D image of the baby, and may have quality like that of photos.

Such scans aid your doctors in observing your little one’s heart and interior organs. These scans are mostly done 24-28 weeks (or about seven months) into your pregnancy to determine if any anatomical deformities are present. 

Note that 4D scans are simply the 3D version of your bundle of joy as he moves around in your womb. 

Why is this scan performed?

There are two main reasons why expectant mums might choose to take a 3D/4D scan: 

  • A 3D/4D ultrasound scan helps medical professionals to check any malformations seen through a normal ultrasound. 
  • To encourage parental bonding, as parents-to-be are treated to the beautiful sight of their baby’s face and their physical appearance (especially with 4D scans) while still in the womb. 

However, 3D/4D scans aren’t perfect, either. Not everything (primarily structures and facial features) can be visualised if there isn’t enough amniotic fluid bathing the unborn baby, or if it is oriented backwards in the uterus.

Many hospitals, such as NUH, Mount Elisabeth Medical Centre and Thomson Medical all provide 3D/4D scanning.


Mums-to-be, we hope this list of scans during pregnancy is useful to you. Which scans have you taken? 

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