Should you pay for additional antenatal scans during pregnancy?

additional antenatal scans

It seems to have almost become par for the course – forking out for additional antenatal scans during pregnancy, and apparently as mums we are collectively splashing millions of pounds on unnecessary antenatal scans during our pregnancies, a study by ChannelMum.com has found.

Although the NHS routinely offers two scans at 12 weeks and 20 weeks to check the unborn child’s development, almost a third mums-to-be pay for expensive private ultrasounds as well, despite fears that too many high-intensity scans may pose a threat to the foetus.

With private scan images costing from £35 up to £1,000 for a repeat package – I it does make you wonder whether we should be forking out all this extra cash, and why we do so. I asked fellow parenting bloggers to share their thoughts and experiences here:

High risk pregnancies

We paid for a gender reveal scan at 16 weeks. My pregnancy was high risk and if our baby died I wanted to know their gender.  My daughter was born healthy… ish! We ended up having around 15 scans in the end but never paid for another private one.  My reason for paying was I didn’t want the NHS scan to be about finding out the sex and instead focus on the importance aspects. – Katy Kicker 

I had 8 scans for each pregnancy as I was high risk. I paid for one during the early stages of my second successful pregnancy as I had a miscarriage that required medical intervention just before. I think they definitely have a place – but I also have a love/hate relationship with them. I often had things show up that needed extra tests and ended up dreading them. It is a double edged sword. – Someone’s Mum 

We paid for private scans with all of our children. Even though I was scanned every two weeks in the last trimester, having lost fifteen babies to miscarriage and one to stillbirth, we needed all of the reassurance we could get. We also found out the gender privately so that our eldest son could be there when we found out. – Five Little Doves  

Seeking reassurance

I paid to have an early scan both times. Only because I felt it gave me more reassurance.  In the end I had to have more anyway due to very high blood pressure but I’d have them again in a heartbeat. – Savings 4 Savvy Mums  

I had 9 scans with Emmy and 6 with Harry. I’ve had 5 miscarriages and was high risk so the extra reassurance was much needed and helped me to bond when I couldn’t enjoy the pregnancies – Emmy’s Mummy 

I was so scared during my pregnancy as it took so long to get pregnant. I had a 6 week scan as we had fertility medication. I would have paid for scans every week if hubby had let me! – You Baby Me Mummy 

To see things in more detail

I had 5 ultrasound scans under the NHS during my twin pregnancy, and paid for two private scans. The first to confirm the sex of our babies, and the second to see them in more detail and have lots of pictures to keep. I found it fascinating and felt reassured to see that they were growing well as my pregnancy was classed as high risk. – Two Little Misters 

…and get to know baby better

I’ve paid in my last two pregnancies for the 3D scans as it was nice to be able to get a feel for what my baby would look like (they’re actually really accurate) and also just to have that extra reassurance that all is ok between the 20 week scan and birth. – Even Angels Fall 

To confirm gender

I paid for an extra scan in my second pregnancy. I wanted to know what gender we were having but when I had my 20 weeks scan the woman couldn’t see. The baby had her legs crossed and the cord in between them! I didn’t think I was really that bothered about knowing the gender until I couldn’t find out. I was so upset! My husband thought I’d lost the plot. We booked a private scan for the next day. Luckily the cheeky monkey moved and we could VERY clearly see she was a girl! – Winnettes 

Because the wait between NHS scans is torture!

I had private early scans at 10 weeks both times. I found the wait for the 12 week scan torture and having had a miscarriage at 7 weeks it was reassuring to know that my pregnancy was viable. I also had a private nuchal scan with Neve as the cheeky madam wouldn’t cooperate during the NHS scans and there is a very limited time window for the tests to be carried out. It actually tested for additional abnormalities too so despite being expensive I felt it was worth every penny. I’m not having any more children but if I was, I wouldn’t hesitate to have a private scan again. – Real Mum Reviews 

To monitor for specific issues

I had ID twins so had scans every fortnight. For me they were such a reassurance that all was OK as we were monitored closely for twin to twin syndrome. It helped the pregnancy pass quickly and kept me positive during a worrying and unknown time! – Twinderelmo 

I had a private scan at 8 weeks with Jessica because I wanted the reassurance of having an early scan. After her heart condition was picked up at 20 weeks we had lots of extra scans – 17 in total. With Sophie I didn’t pay for any extra but we had two extra scans on the NHS to look more closely at her heart and check all was well. – Little Hearts Big Love 

Two scans feels too little

Coming from Italy, where during pregnancy you’re under the care of a gynecologist, I felt that having just two scans (at 13 weeks and 20 weeks) was too little! So when pregnant with my first, when I went to see my parents for holidays I had an additional scan at around 16 weeks. With my second one I had an early scan at 9 weeks, and the 2 standard ones provided by the NHS. I didn’t feel the need to have any extra. And similarly with my third, I had an early scan around 9 weeks, and the two NHS ones. – Mind Your Mamma 

We only had the NHS scans

I was happy to just have the two NHS scans with each of my three babies. I was however given an early scan at nine weeks with my eldest due to bleeding, and with my youngest I had a low lying placenta so had two additional scans at 32 and 36 weeks. Although those scans were just to check my placenta, the sonographer did a full check each time and it was amazing to see the baby that far along, so I can understand the appeal of private scans. – Quite Frankly She Said

We didn’t pay for additional scans

We didn’t pay for extra scans, we were high risk with both pregnancies and although couldn’t wait to find out the gender didn’t feel a private scan was worth the money when another 4 weeks wait and we could know and have more chance of it being correct. Many people I know had gone private at 16 weeks and they couldn’t find out or they got it wrong (although some got it wrong at 20 weeks too) I was lucky we found out on the NHS and they provided many more progress scans due to my complications that I always felt assured. However my youngest is 4 and I would worry about the strains on the NHS now and for health reassurances would possibly look into private anyway should we have another baby. – Fit for Parenting  

but wished we had….

We didn’t pay for scans just had 2 NHS ones (12 weeks and 20 weeks). But if I get pregnant again I would 100% pay for a private scan – waiting between the two we had and having 20 weeks of anxiety last time meant that i couldn’t really enjoy the pregnancy as I was convinced something would be wrong with the baby! Also at our NHS scans we were only allowed to purchase 2 pictures and I would have liked more. – Better Together Home 

Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, comments: “Having a scan can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby and provide reassurance when you are worried. But mums need to remember it is a medical procedure and should to be treated very seriously. Clinics which allow multiple repeat scans without a medical reason could be risking the baby’s health – so let’s hope the scan industry isn’t the next medical scandal.

Mervi Jokinen, Practice and Standards Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, comments: “Current advice by the National Institute For Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to have an early scan and then a screening scan for anomalies at around 18-20 weeks. These are recommendations based on the available research and takes into account the harm and benefit of scans. Any further scans beyond these recommendations should be clinically indicated and based on the needs of the women and her developing baby.

It is of concern that women are needing this extra assurance. It may reflect a need for women to have more confidence in their pregnancy and this type of reassurance and support is, and can, be provided by their midwife. Anxieties caused by reliance on technology can have an impact on a woman’s pregnancy, causing undue stress and anxiety.”

Are you pregnant and thinking about paying for additional antenatal scans? Or perhaps you have a view to share on the above? Do leave a comment below if so.

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15 comments

  1. This is such a great post. I had no idea so many people paid for extra scans. The gap between the two NHS ones is torture. I think with more and more budget cuts and more evidence coming out that makes mums nervous more and more people will be turning to private scans. Thank you for including my bit. X

  2. Great post, it’s sad that so many women needed the reassurance due to previous losses. I know that I was lucky to have a lot of scans on the NHS but for me, it still wasn’t enough. Thank god for private scans to keep me sane!

  3. Very interesting post this. People at work seem to spend a fortune on scans on the run up to their pregnancy and I sometimes wonder if it is money well spent

  4. I paid for a 3d scan for my gender scan as the hospital I went to charged for gender reveals. They did the usual 20 week scan but if you wanted to know the gender, it cost like £20 or something like that. I figured if I was paying for it anyway I might aswell get a 3d one and increase the accuracy.

  5. I think it is entirely up to the parents. I had scans almost every two weeks and then every week towards the end with mine as I had gestational diabetes and other issues. It did become a chore in the end
    Kara recently posted…Despicable Me MineezMy Profile

  6. Interesting the reason’s behind why people opted for extra scans. I never paid for extra with any of mine but my favorite one was when I got to see my youngest at 34 weeks as they thought he wasn’t growing properly. His facial features were so prominent we knew what he’d look like before he was born.
    Kizzy recently posted…Intentional Living or Minimalist Lifestyle?My Profile

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