5 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Scan: What to Expect

Getting a positive pregnancy test is an exciting moment for any expectant mother. It confirms that you are indeed pregnant and brings about a rush of emotions and thoughts about the future. If this is your first pregnancy, you are likely both excited and overwhelmed about all the changes you are experiencing.  Many people have questions about when the first ultrasound will be after getting a positive pregnancy test. The 5 weeks pregnant ultrasound is an early scan that serves as a crucial milestone in your pregnancy journey.  

This early scan offers an initial peek into the little world forming within you. It is a crucial step in ensuring that your pregnancy is progressing as it should be. Whether you are brimming with excitement, feeling a tad anxious, or a bit of both, we are here to provide you with all the essential information you need to navigate this amazing yet mysterious phase of your life. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not give medical advice. Always check with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you have during your pregnancy.

What is the 5 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound?

The scan is an early ultrasound done during the first trimester when you are around 5 weeks gestation. This would mean you are around five weeks after your missed period.  Not all pregnant women get an ultrasound this early.  Early pregnancy scans are most often done if you are undergoing fertility treatment, such as in-vitro fertilization. You may also have an early scan if you have previously experienced pregnancy complications, such as a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.  High risk women, such as those with certain health conditions, may also get a 5-week ultrasound scan.

The typical dating scan is done around 8 weeks of pregnancy. This would be 8 weeks after the first date of your last period.  This early scan is usually a transvaginal ultrasound. It involves a probe that is inserted into the vagina to get a closer look at the uterus and developing embryo. The transabdominal ultrasound is not typically used until later in the pregnancy, such as during the second trimester. This is because the baby is still very small and not easily visible through the abdomen at 5 weeks. 

This ultrasound serves as an important tool for both you and your pregnancy care provider. Remember, pregnancy tests can only tell you that you are pregnant, but cannot tell you how far along you are. An ultrasound confirms the pregnancy and provides an estimated due date based on the size of the embryo. This is crucial information for tracking the growth and development of the baby throughout the entire pregnancy. Additionally, this early scan is the best way to detect any potential complications or issues that may need to be addressed. 

If any complications are detected, your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a plan of action and monitor the situation closely. It is important to stay calm and communicate openly with your healthcare team during this time. Remember, early detection of any issues can help to improve chances for a healthy pregnancy. It also helps protect the health of the mother.

A woman's hand points to an ultrasound image of a baby on a screen.

What to Expect During the Ultrasound?

Before the ultrasound, you will be asked to drink plenty of water and have a full bladder. This helps create a clearer image on the ultrasound machine. During the scan, your doctor or ultrasound technician will use a probe to capture images of your uterus and embryo. An ultrasound works by using sound waves to create images.  You may feel some slight pressure or discomfort during the procedure, but it should not be painful. The entire process usually takes around 15-20 minutes at most.

Your healthcare provider may also do a blood test to check for the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and progesterone. The HCG levels rise as the pregnancy progresses and can help confirm the viability of your pregnancy. Progesterone is a hormone crucial for maintaining the pregnancy and supporting the growth of the embryo. Low levels of progesterone may indicate an increased risk of miscarriage, so your doctor will monitor these levels closely.

You may also have blood work taken to check for other things, such as  your blood type and Rh factor. Knowing your blood type is important for potential risk factors, such as if you have a negative blood type and the father has a positive one. Your doctor will explain any additional tests or procedures that may be done during this visit.

Other Tips for Your First Trimester Ultrasound

  • Wear comfortable clothing: The early scans are typically a transvaginal scan. Since you will likely have to remove your pants or skirt during the procedure, it is best to wear loose-fitting clothing that is easy to take off and put back on.
  • Bring a support person: It can be overwhelming to go through this experience alone. Consider bringing your partner or a close friend or family member for support.
  • Ask questions: This scan is an opportunity for you to learn more about your pregnancy and ask any questions you may have. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor or ultrasound technician for more information. At this stage of pregnancy,  you may have many questions about what to expect in the coming weeks and months.
  • Relax: While it is natural to feel anxious before the ultrasound, try to relax and enjoy this special moment of seeing your little one for the first time. Most likely, you will not get many more additional ultrasounds during pregnancy. Try to enjoy the ones you do have. 
  • Know your body: When scheduling an ultrasound, doctors use the first date of your last menstrual period.  This method often assumes you have a 28 day cycle.  Many women have longer cycles.  Women with fertility issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have irregular cycles that do not follow the standard.  If you know you ovulated late, do not panic when the ultrasound shows you to not be as far along.  The time frame of your pregnancy will be adjusted when you give them this information.

What Can You See on the Ultrasound?

At 5 weeks pregnant, you will not yet see a distinct baby on the ultrasound. However, you may be able to see a tiny gestational sac and possibly even a yolk sac. The yolk sac appears as a small white circle within the gestation sac. It provides nourishment to the growing embryo until the placenta takes over. The fetal pole, which will eventually develop into the baby, may also be visible at this time. The amniotic sac and amniotic fluid, which protects the baby throughout pregnancy, will likely not be visible during this first pregnancy ultrasound.

These are all important structures that support the growth and development of the embryo. Your doctor may also be able to measure the size of the gestational sac. This measurement can help determine if your pregnancy is developing normally. At this gestational age, your baby is the size of a poppy seed and is still in the early stages of development. 

The major organs and body systems will not yet be formed. The embryo is already starting to form the neural tube, which will eventually develop into the brain and spinal cord. You will be able to see these structures during the 12-week ultrasound.

It is unlikely you will hear the baby’s heartbeat during this early scan. The embryo is still very small and the fetal heartbeat may not be strong enough to be picked up by the ultrasound. Typically, the cardiac activity starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Twins can also be detected during the early stages of pregnancy. It is still early and may not always be visible. If you have a history of twins in your family or are undergoing fertility treatment, your doctor may pay closer attention to look for the possibility of multiples. 

A pair of white baby shoes, an ultrasound photo, a positive pregnancy test, and a white pacifier all sit on a red background.

Important Things to Know About the First Ultrasound Scan

It is important to remember that every pregnancy is unique and different, so what you see on your first-trimester ultrasound may vary slightly from others. Some women may have a visible yolk sac while others may not. An empty gestational sac does not mean you do not have a viable pregnancy. It could simply mean that it is too early to see anything or that the embryo has implanted in a different position. Your doctor will likely schedule another prenatal ultrasound in a few weeks to get a clearer picture of your baby’s development.

It is also normal to feel nervous or anxious before your first ultrasound, especially if you have had complications in the past. This ultrasound can help to rule out potential complications, such as ectopic pregnancies.  It will be able to confirm you do have an intrauterine pregnancy and that everything is growing on track.  If you experience any vaginal bleeding or severe abdominal pain before your scheduled ultrasound, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.

The typical measurement during an ultrasound is the crown rump length.  The crown-rump length is the distance from the top of the baby’s head to its buttocks and can help estimate the gestational age. In the fifth week of pregnancy, this measurement may not yet be accurate as the baby is still in very early stages of development. As your pregnancy progresses, this measurement will become more reliable.

Your doctor will also check your reproductive organs, such as your ovaries and uterus, to ensure everything is healthy and functioning properly. They may also look for any signs of potential complications for the mother, such as uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts.

Remember to schedule any necessary follow-up appointments with your doctor and to continue taking care of yourself and your future baby. Ultrasounds are a special opportunity to get a glimpse into the development of your child and to ensure that everything is progressing as it should be. 


In conclusion, the early pregnancy ultrasound is an important milestone in your prenatal care!  This type of ultrasound provides a first glimpse into your developing baby and is more than just a medical procedure. The scan is the beginning of an extraordinary journey to meet your baby! This early scan aids in confirming your pregnancy, providing an estimated due date, and helps identify any potential complications. Understandably, it might be a time of excitement mixed with anxiousness. However, remember that each pregnancy is unique and it is normal for the images at this stage to vary widely among individuals. Keep an open line of communication with your healthcare provider, ask any questions you may have, and take proper care of yourself. This is just the start of an exciting journey, and every step is critical towards welcoming your new bundle of joy!

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