Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that might help answer some of your queries. If you have questions about our non-diagnostic ultrasound service that are not addressed here, please call our toll free line at 1.888 SCAN ME 2 (1.888.722.6632).


Q. How far in advance should I book my appointment?
A. Book your appointment two to three weeks in advance in order to reserve a convenient time that works with your schedule.

Q. I just found out I’m pregnant. How long I should wait before I have an ultrasound?
A. There is no inopportune time to come in. Ultrasound imaging – at any stage of pregnancy – offers exciting opportunities.

Q. When is the best time to book an appointment if I want to know the gender of my baby?
A. We can have a look between the legs before 20 weeks and offer a “percentage” but there is not confirmation of the sex of the baby until 20 weeks. Gender rechecks are free after 20 weeks.

Here’s a list of what you might see at each trimester:

First Trimester

  • heart beat is visible
  • unborn child is the size of a peanut
  • arm and leg buds can be seen
  • unborn child demonstrates rest periods and twitches of activity

Second Trimester

  • movements peak at 17 weeks but are not always felt by the mother
  • unborn child is about 6 to 12 inches long and can easily be seen on the monitor
  • arms, hands, legs, and feet are fully molded
  • thumb-sucking can be observed

Third Trimester

  • unborn child can be seen swallowing
  • organs are easily identified
  • breathing motion is seen approximately one third of the time
  • hiccups are common
  • from the 7th month to term, the unborn child’s length increases 13 to 20 inches and its weight nearly triples


Q. I am four months pregnant and want to have an ultrasound. However, some of my friends say it may be harmful to the baby. Is this procedure safe?
A. We discuss this issue with everyone who chooses to have a non-diagnostic scan to ensure they make an informed decision. To date, there have been no documented side effects of ultrasound imaging. You may be reassured that Governing Health Officials would not permit the non-diagnostic service if there were known adverse affects to the unborn child.

Q. I have had three normal pregnancies and my doctor ordered routine ultrasounds with each pregnancy. I was never told of any risks. I am a little confused about the safety of the procedure. Has there been new research that proves it’s an unsafe procedure?
A. There are no new findings to indicate ultrasound is unsafe. In 1993, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine released an official statement regarding safety of ultrasound imaging. It states that ultrasound has been in use since the 1950s, including use during human pregnancy. No confirmed biological effects when using typical intensities have ever been reported.


Q. How much time does an ultrasound session usually take?
A. A session takes approximately 30 minutes for 2D or 45 minutes for 3D/4D. The actual scanning time takes between 10 and 20 minutes. Expect an extra 10 minutes for 3D/4D ultrasound scans.

Q. Why don’t I have to have a full bladder for this ultrasound?
A. The reason you don’t need a bursting bladder is that we need only enough fluid to see the birth canal to compare it to the size of the baby’s head. In the medical sessions, we need to see the lower uterine segment to rule out a placenta previa, or mass in that area that may complicate a vaginal delivery.

Q. Can you explain the procedure of ultrasound, particularly how you operate?
A. Ultrasound Preview offers a personal scan to expectant mothers. It allows you to bond with your unborn child by using a non-diagnostic approach to ultrasound imaging. The emphasis of the procedure is on the emotional benefits and our very realistic and recognizable 3D/4D images of the child, as well as high quality 2D images.

Q. Do I need a doctor’s referral or can I book my own ultrasound appointment?
A. You do not need a referral from your doctor. Many pregnant women discuss having a non-diagnostic ultrasound with their doctor and the medical acceptance has been favorable. Attending physicians are hesitant to order expensive ultrasound testing through Alberta Health Care when there are no underlying medical problems. People recognize there are intangible benefits to viewing the unborn child in a comfortable, informal setting.

Q. What factors determine the quality of ultrasound images?
A. Many factors, such as the position of the baby, the amount of amniotic fluid and the amount of tissue between the probe and the baby can affect the quality of the images. Although our highly-trained sonographers work hard to get the best images, the quality does vary from one scan to the next.

Q. How many people am I allowed to bring to my ultrasound?
A. You may bring as many people as you like to your appointment. Keep in mind that the room is quite small, but your guests are permitted to enter in and out of the room if they wish. Keep in mind that all sounds in the room are recorded so too many voices may interfere with what the technician is explaining on the video.

Q. I’ve already had a routine ultrasound ordered by my doctor. How is Ultrasound Preview different?
A. With healthcare cutbacks, quite often physicians will only order one ultrasound scan at an earlier stage of a normal pregnancy, which is chiefly focused on making sure there are no problems with the pregnancy. Ultrasound Preview offers the expectant parents an opportunity to view and bond with their unborn child for the duration of the pregnancy, in a relaxed atmosphere.

Some differences between routine ultrasounds and the scans we perform at Ultrasound Preview are:

Routine Ultrasound

  • Pictures of the ultrasound are not always available to take home.
  • Cross-sectional view of the baby is difficult to interpret.
  • Focus is not placed on the face of the baby.
  • Too early to positively determine sex.
  • Mother’s bladder must be full.

Ultrasound Preview

  • Printed ultrasound images as well as DVDs are offered.
  • Lengthwise view of baby is easier to see and interpret.
  • Much attention paid to facial features of the baby.
  • Gender determination guaranteed after 20 weeks gestation (if you want to know) or next visit is free.
  • No need to have a full bladder.

Q. What kind of DVD’s do you use?
A. We use DVD-R discs to record the ultrasound sessions. These discs work on most ordinary DVD players and do not require a computer for playback. We have found that DVD-R discs offer superior compatibility. If you are not sure if these DVDs will play in your DVD player, we encourage you to purchase both a VHS and DVD copy.

Q. Do I receive the pictures and DVD immediately to take home?
A. Yes! You receive the pictures, the CD (if applicable) and the DVD immediately after the appointment to take home and enjoy.