Different Dates? Is Baby Okay?

QUESTION

Dear Ms Ultrasound,
Hi. I found out a few weeks ago that I was pregnant (first pregnancy). The first day of my last menstrual period was June 23 of this year. I was having terrible cramps and was concerned because the nurse at my OB/GYN's office said it could be an ectopic pregnancy. I made an appointment immediately, saw my doctor and was told that the cramps were normal. He did an exam and an ultrasound.

The ultrasound read out that I was 6 weeks 4 days and my calculations show that I am 6 weeks 1 day. Can a few days make a difference? My doctor was concerned that he didn't see a heart beat. A gestational sac could be seen with a yolk sac inside.

I am really very upset at this point assuming that the pregnancy is not viable. He scheduled me for an ultrasound in one week. Is it possible not to see a heart beat at this time? Please give me any information on this that may help me know what is going on either way!

Thank you,
Jennifer

ANSWER

Hi Jennifer,
Stop. Take a deep breath! It seems you have put yourself into panic mode early on in this pregnancy. Early pregnancy is such a tenuous time. Women can bleed, have cramps, have ultrasounds that aren't definitive, with an array of other symptoms, all many times ending in normal pregnancies.

What I try to remind women who are in a situation such as yours, is to remember the miraculous life you have created. So often, we as women get so caught up with counting the exact days, counting hormones, worrying about pains that would go unnoticed if you weren't pregnant, forgetting about the actual life growing inside you.

When I found myself in a similar situation, I decided to make a conscience effort to try and remove myself from the medical side of things when it wasn't going to benefit the life I created.

You are in what I call the gray-zone. This is that common one week waiting period in between ultrasounds. Your doctor saw an early pregnancy. Seeing a yolk sac is a good sign. Yes, in early pregnancy it is possible to not see a heartbeat and in a week you go in and voila -- a heartbeat! You could be too early to detect what is called the fetal pole. He measured the gestational sac to come up with the 6 weeks 4 days measurement. The difference of 3 days is not significant at all. I could measure the same pregnancy and come up with 6 weeks 1 day.

Next week when you have your ultrasound you will know for sure if the pregnancy is progressing normally or not. One week is enough time for the fetal pole with a heartbeat, to become apparent on an ultrasound. In the meantime, why don't you assume that the pregnancy IS viable and make the coming week a wonderful, stress-free time. This to me is the most important thing you can do to help the early developmental stage of a pregnancy.

-- Jane, RDMS

Jane Foley

Jane Foley has worked as a Sonographer (Ultrasound Technologist) since 1979. Jane has lived and worked in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia. She is a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or RDMS. She pulls a wealth of information from her experience in the field of Radiology and her interactions with such a broad cross-section of cultures she has visited. She now makes her home on the island of Maui with her English husband, Michael.