Nuchal Scanning – My Rollercoaster Experience

My nuchal scanning experience was quite the emotional rollercoaster, but not for the reasons you might expect. It’s taken us nearly 3.5years to fall pregnant again (I have fertility issues) and we are absolutely over the moon but the early stages were not without worries. All women in the first trimester worry about something going wrong, it’s a sad fact of life that sometimes things don’t go to plan. Having miscarried before and due to my irregular cycles my GP suggested an early scan to check all was ok this time and to get a more accurate date. It took some doing but I managed to get a scan date for 26th May, and terrified everything had gone to pot again we trundled off.

I was pleased to find the radiographer was my specialist fertility nurse from my previous pregnancies, and she wasted no time in getting me up on the bed and starting the scan. I couldn’t look, my eyes were closed so tightly it hurt, my husband was sat so still. Quite harrowing to be honest. When the Radiographer asked how far I thought I was I whispered,

“7-8weeks” almost inaudibly and with such hope in my voice.
“Well you aren’t” she replied, and my heart sank, not again, but wait!
“You are 12 weeks and all looks fine”. I am not at all ashamed to say I cried like a baby and wasted no time after the scan in throwing my arms around her. The relief, excitement, the elation is hard to describe!


 As I wasn’t yet booked into the midwife, the Down Syndrome test, the nuchal fold measurements weren’t done there and then as it is procedure to book in with the midwife and discuss the tests, implications and to decide if you want to have the test. We did so a week later we were back, baby looked great and then I was sent off for the bloods which combined with the nuchal fold scan measurement, and some details about myself would give a risk factor which would give an indication of the risk of our child having DS. I was told that the results would come back in two weeks max by post if all well, but potential much sooner by phone if there was call for concern.

A week later, at 8am I found a phone message on my home answer phone from the previous afternoon,

“Mrs Cawood, this is a midwife from the hospital maternity day unit. We need to speak to you urgently, can you ring today before 5pm or we are open from 9am, but please get in touch asap”. My whole world fell apart. First off, I thought the tests had come back and there was a high risk of DS but the “Urgent” need to get in touch convinced me that it was something else, something life-threatening, that perhaps something had happened to the baby already, was I even pregnant anymore? I was in pieces. I couldn’t ring until after 9am and poor Kieran was thrown into preschool. It took 30 minutes to get in touch with someone who could help me (and it was the midwife who had left the message).

Midwife: Ah hello Mrs Cawood, thank you for getting in touch so quickly. There has been a problem with your bloods, a case of blood didn’t reach the testing unit in time as there had been a transit problem so the samples are now no good and will have to be done again.

I wailed, like a banshee, I could barely talk for hysterical sobs.

Me: “MISSING BLOODS? I thought something really serious had happened, something was wrong with my baby!”.

Midwife: It is serious, you are 13wk+6days today. Today is the last day we can take new bloods if you want to have the test redone.

Well, I got to the hospital, had the bloods done and came home, feeling very drained as you’d imagine. Surely a message like “There is nothing to worry about but there has been a mix-up” would have been adequate? As it happens I got a letter a week letter saying no further tests were required and my results/risk factor was 1:50000 which I’m told is a good and low result. I do have to say though that the majority of the worry I had whilst waiting for the second test to come back was fed by lack of knowledge of what the test results would determine, what the risk factors meant etc and this information I found from online sources. The nuchal scanning has only been done on-site at my local hospital for a few months, and I think the process needs streamlining a bit more. Certainly, more information of the ins and outs of the results etc should be available earlier on, either by the midwives or the hospital scanning.

Such a worrying time anyway- this extra worry didn’t help! Thankfully I am 18 weeks tomorrow and so far so good, as far as we know. Am I right to feel slightly let down by my care during my first trimester or am I being a bit precious? I don’t remember having the DS test when I was pregnant with Kieran, but would definitely remember worrying phone messages and such doubt.

Did you have the Nuchal scan done, and did you feel reassured that you were in full possession of the facts about the testing and results? I’m interested to hear about other people’s experiences. As the results were happy ones I should be able to forget about it all but it’s niggling me, and I’m not sure if its a remembrance of the awful morning of tears waiting to speak to a midwife
or the cloudy knowledge I had beforehand that has left me worried/unsettled.

Please do comment and forward on.


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  1. I have 5 kids. Only did the nuchal scan with the fifth because I was over 35 at the time.Here over 35 qualifies you for an amnio, but because I have a clotting problem, I was not doing one unless really necessary. So did nuchal scan and blood tests and went for a genetic screening where they told me that they were satisfied enough to recommend that I not do the amnio.All was well. She is 4 now. (oldest is turning 20)

  2. Sorry I missed this comment Susie!I'm very glad everything turned out well for you and your daughter. It is definitely a useful test to have available but certianly in my case/my hospital the way it is delivered and results are explained etc need to be streamlined to avoid any undue panic! I hope your experience was mhc smoother. Five kids sounds great by the way, I am one of six siblings and absolutely love it, even though we are all grown up now and mostly married with children!

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