Sonographers are radiographers or midwives who are trained in ultrasound. They usually have a postgraduate certificate, diploma, or master's degree in medical ultrasound, and will carry out most of your scans.
If you consent, you may also be scanned by someone who is training in ultrasound, under the direct supervision of a qualified sonographer. Having a scan with a trainee can be an interesting experience as it can let you know exactly what the sonographer is looking for during your scan.
If you need any additional, special scans, these will be carried out by a doctor who is trained in ultrasound (fetal medicine specialist).
How is an ultrasound scan carried out?
The sonographer will put some gel on your tummy and move a hand-held device (transducer) over your skin to pick up images of your baby.
If you’re having a scan in early pregnancy, you’ll need to drink a few glasses of water beforehand. A full bladder helps the ultrasound echoes to reach your womb, giving the sonographer a good view of your baby.
If your baby's still deep in your pelvis, or if you're overweight, the image may not be very clear. In this case, your sonographer may offer to do the scan through your vagina (transvaginal scan).
A transvaginal scan will give a much clearer picture of your baby, especially if you're at an early stage of pregnancy. You won't need a full bladder for this type of scan.
The vaginal transducer is long and narrow to fit comfortably inside your vagina. The sonographer will use a cover similar to a condom and will lubricate this with plenty of gel, so it slides in easily. She won't need to go in very deeply, and it won't harm you or your baby in any way.