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It may surprise you to know, that our Celtic relatives in Glasgow, were the first to use ultrasound back in 1956, for clinical purposes. The first prototype was developed by an engineer, Tom Brown, and an obstetrician, Ian Donald. Believe it or not the concept was based upon an instrument which was originally used to find flaws in ships. The team perfected its use for clinical purposes, and actually by 1960 Glasgow hospitals were using ultrasound routinely. Funnily enough it didn’t take off in American and British hospitals until the 1970s.

Of course since then ultrasound imaging has undergone an incredible amount of development, and by the end of the 20th century the majority of women in the developed countries of the Western world were going for routine pregnancy scans.

Today women in Ireland and other developed countries have come to expect ultrasound pregnancy scans as being an integral part of their pregnancy journey. In a way, we may have even come to take these pregnancy scans for granted a little bit, and maybe it is only at that moment when we are considering our first early pregnancy scan, that we may really give the technology more thought.

Ultrasound pregnancy scans explained

So how does this technology work, that enables us to see our babies long before they come into this world to meet us?

Basically when you come in to a clinic for your scan, ultrasound waves will be aimed at your abdomen. These ultrasonic sound waves are bounced in order to get the images, so that an image of your baby’s body and structure can be generated. In the early days of fetal ultrasound it was only possible to see the baby’s head. However as more expertise was gained, clinicians were able to discern many more features.

Pregnancy scans can be very emotional

Even though we may have come to take them a little for granted, going for a pregnancy scan can be a huge emotional experience. Each scan can be a combination of being nerve wracking, exciting and emotional – and some women experience this to be even more dramatic in their first pregnancy, and of course in the early stages of any pregnancy.

In the majority of situations pregnancy scans are both reassuring and somewhat magical. Unfortunately a smaller percentage of women will experience pregnancy scans which are not reassuring. This can happen in a variety of scenarios, such as when the sonographer not been able to detect a baby’s heartbeat, or has seen possible abnormalities during the scan. Any of these situations are obviously heart-wrenching, and depending on the circumstances, the scan may help to prepare a woman and her partner to accept whatever the news is.

However in most cases pregnancy scans are a happy occasion. There is something about seeing a developing fetus that is almost impossible to explain, but it is truly an amazing experience. This is the case even when we attend someone else’s scan, as I have done previously. In that particular case, it seems like the baby was waving at us, and actually she was delivered around 24 hours later, a few weeks early.

Are ultrasound pregnancy scans safe?

The procedure of an ultrasound pregnancy scan is non-invasive. Millions of women have had pregnancy scans, safely and although concerns have surfaced from time to time, the experts are confident that ultrasound is safe.

Choice of pregnancy scans explained

Just below you’ll see our colourful icons along with the names of the various pregnancy scans that are available to you. Click on any of those to read more about the scan itself, and in some cases one of the consultants has filmed a video which also explains about the scan.

Additionally we can offer the Harmony Prenatal Test, which you can read more about by clicking on the banner further below, or the link in this sentence.


Nuchal Translucency

11-14 weeks


Anatomy Survey

18-22 weeks


Later Dating

12-17 weeks


Gender Scan

19 weeks onwards


Growth & Well Being

22 weeks onwards


Post Dates & Liquor

40 weeks onwards


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About The Clinic

Merrion Fetal Health Pregnancy Scans Dublin 2

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About The Consultants

Dr. Rhona Mahony

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About The Team

Pregnancy scans lead sonographer at Merrion Fetal Health

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Screen of Pregnancy Scan

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Common Concerns


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FAQs - Your Questions


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GP Referral Scheme


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Health Conditions


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Healthy Pregnancy


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Medical Studies


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Patients' Information


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Pregnancy Diary


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Pregnancy Magazines

pregnancy health magazines

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Scans & Services

18 weeks pregnancy scan facial profile Merrion Fetal Health

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Susan's Trimesters

pregnancy trimesters

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Videos By Consultants


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