What I'd Look for in a Pregnancy Scan

By Maria Birch, Obstetric Sonographer

Hi, I'm Maria Birch, an obstetric sonographer and owner of Sneak-A-Peek Ultrasound. Thank you very much visiting my website.

Like many women, when I was pregnant with my daughter Mabel, I had a private early pregnancy scan.

Based on my experience - and 9 years scanning other parents - here's what I'd look for in a private pregnancy scan.

Even though it would be easier and cheaper to omit these things from Sneak-A-Peek Ultrasound scans, it's my duty and goal to give you everything I'd want for myself and more.


I would look for safety, above all else, in a pregnancy scan - so here are three things that help make a scan safe.

Experienced sonographer

Firstly, safety requires an experienced sonographer who can differentiate normal from abnormal. That means you get appropriate care when you need it, and avoid unnecessary worry when you don't.

At Sneak-A-Peek, you can rest assured that I've differentiated normal from abnormal, boys from girls, and good from bad imaging in thousands of cases over 9 years as a sonographer.

Quality machine

A safe pregnancy scan also requires a quality ultrasound machine.

Therefore, I would look for a scan with a cutting-edge machine that helps you and the sonographer see your baby's features clearly.

Unfortunately, obstetric ultrasound machines are extremely expensive, so most provider's use the same one for at least 10-15 years.

At Sneak-A-Peek, you'll be scanned on a relatively new top-of-the-line machine: a 2019-model GE Voluson S10 Expert.

Plenty of time

Even the best sonographer is at risk of making mistakes under pressure, so safety also requires time to assess your baby's health.

At Sneak-A-Peek, every scan is at least 50% longer than most others, so there's time to perform our 7-step fetal well-being assessment without rushing.


I would also want to feel comfortable at the scan.

Therefore, I would look for a scan performed in a calm, relaxing, cosy environment.

When you arrive at Sneak-A-Peek Ultrasound, you'll smell the lavender and see colourful flowers hanging from a beautiful red-brick building.

Inside, the cosy sofa's, relaxing decor, and calming music are more like a spa than a healthcare practice.

"We loved the setting. The place has such a lovely feel about it. And Maria was so professional, yet so welcoming and friendly. We felt totally at ease to relax and felt comfortable to ask anything!" - Fran Dennis


I would look for a scan that eased my mind.

As strange as it may sound, I hear from women every week who had a scan... and their baby was healthy... but they still felt worried.

In most cases, this was because they were rushed out of the door, leaving with more questions than they arrived with.

At Sneak-A-Peek, I take time to guide you through your baby's anatomy, explain their appearance in plain English, and answer all your questions.

This is only possible because every scan appointment is at least 50% longer than at most other clinics (in some cases, twice as long).

I'd only pay for another scan if it eased my mind - and that's what I'd like for you too.

"We were made to feel so special. You really are treated as if you are the only person in the world having a baby! From the moment you walk in the door, you feel calm and relaxed and totally at ease with Maria." - Hannah Cordery

NHS referral

I would look for a scan with close links to NHS services.

The reason is that, if the scan revealed an abnormality, I'd want to be referred for appropriate care as quickly as possible.

At some private pregnancy clinics, the referral is not made by the sonographer. This means NHS staff often have to spend time clarifying the scan findings, which delays your care.

As Sneak-A-Peek, I'm responsible for all NHS referrals. I speak to the midwives and nurses and explain your situation in detail. As a result, you get access to the right care as soon as possible.


I would look for a great experience.

When I had a private early pregnancy scan with Mabel, I felt like a number being ticked off a sheet.

Yes, it was a relief to know my baby was ok, but other than that, it was a very underwhelming experience.

If I did it again, I'd want to feel that I could take my time, ask questions, and get to know my baby a little.

Ultimately, assuming a positive outcome, I'd want an experience I could look back on and remember how happy I was.

That's exactly what I've baked into every Sneak-A-Peek Ultrasound scan and it's what I'd want if I were in your shoes.

"The whole experience with you was so personal, relaxing, and simply magical. I knew seeing our daughter in 4D would be special but had no idea how special it would be made by you and your homely personal little clinic." - Ruby Harr


Last but not least, I would look for reviews from parents in a similar situation to me.

Pregnancy scan providers - myself included - can say anything they want about their services. So it's the feedback from clients I'd pay most attention to.

After 9 years as a sonographer - and 2 years at Sneak-A-Peek - there's nothing that makes me prouder than parent's trusting me with their scan - and it's my daily goal to justify their trust.

Ultimately, it would be easier and more profitable to omit the factors on this page from scans at Sneak-A-Peek Ultrasound. By minimising appointment times like other clinics, I could do twice as many scans and make more money. But that's not my intention.

I wouldn't pay for a scan like that again, and I will never provide one. Enough parent's will always want a quality pregnancy scan - safe, comfortable, reassuring - that I will always be busy. And those parents will always have kind things to say about their experience.

You can, of course, experience this for yourself if you want to. But before you do, I recommend reading what other parents have to say about each scan service. They have been where you are right now - wondering whether a private pregnancy scan is worth it - and the answer can be found in their words.

I wish you a very happy and healthy pregnancy.

Maria Birch