An obstetric ultrasound is a very safe and accurate imaging investigation of your unborn baby. Ultrasound uses harmless high-frequency inaudible sound waves to obtain images. Ultrasound waves are not dangerous or irritating for you or your baby.

Using advanced imaging ultrasound systems, Taranaki Radiology provides high image quality for medical diagnosis in obstetrics. Our sonographers and specialist radiologists are highly trained and experienced in obstetric imaging.

Your Pregnancy Ultrasound Guide

Whether this is your first pregnancy or your third, each journey is unique and requires a level of expert care to assure that both mother and baby complete their journey in a manner that is happy, healthy, and rewarding.

Preparing for an Obstetric Ultrasound

Please be on time for your appointment to ensure there is sufficient time available to perform the procedure.


The ultrasound waves are transmitted and collected via a hand held probe that is moved over the abdomen. You will not feel any pain or discomfort.

Depending on the trimester, your scan will take between 15-60 minutes.


An ultrasound is an extremely accurate diagnostic tool. Very rarely, though, some abnormalities cannot be detected due to the position of the baby, gestational age (weeks), or other normal variations.

It is not unusual for the trained sonographer or specialist to recommend another scan or further tests. 

We understand that some patients are anxious about having tests performed.
If you do have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask our staff. Taranaki Radiology strongly advises that you return to your referring doctor/midwife, in order to discuss your radiology report with you.


Taranaki Radiology performs obstetric ultrasound examinations throughout the course of your pregnancy:

First Trimester

This ultrasound scan is frequently ordered to confirm a pregnancy, to check the age and progress of pregnancy in early stages, or to rule out miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy if a patient is experiencing pain or bleeding.

Second Trimester

This ultrasound scan provides your doctor/midwife with a detailed physical assessment of your baby and is usually completed between 18-20 weeks gestation. Baby’s position, growth and development are checked as well as the volume of amniotic fluid and the position and condition of the placenta and cervix.

Please note that Taranaki Radiology does not offer nuchal translucency genetic screening examinations.

Third Trimester

This scan is typically completed toward the end of a pregnancy and is used to check growth and development and that movement is appropriate for gestational age. It can also be used to confirm your baby’s position in the uterus (i.e. head down, breech presentation etc.).


  • We will give you a call before your appointment to talk through any preparation instructions.
  • For first and second trimester scans you will need a full bladder for the examination.
  • One and a half hours before the appointment empty your bladder.
  • Drink 1 litre of water within the next ½ hour, finishing it one hour before your appointment time. Try not to empty your bladder.
  • If you feel very uncomfortable you may need to partially empty your bladder but you need to retain as much urine as is possible so that the scan can still be performed. If your bladder is not sufficiently full, this may delay or cause the scan to be rebooked.
  • You may eat normally and take any necessary medication.
  • On the day of your exam, please arrive at 56 Fulford Street 10 minutes early for check-in.
  • Once you have arrived and checked in at 56 Fulford Street, you will be led to the scan room.
  • The sonographer will help position you on a cushioned table.
  • Gel will be applied to your skin.  The gel acts as a conductor.
  • A transducer, a hand-held device that sends and receives ultrasound signals, will be moved over the area of your body being imaged.
  • Sometimes as part of a first trimester scan an internal (transvaginal) transducer scan will be required, though this will be discussed with you at the time if necessary.
  • Images will be instantly captured on a monitor and will be sent to a radiologist for review.
  • When your scan is complete, the gel is removed. Your appointment is complete.
  • After the examination, your images will be sent electronically to a radiologist who will review the information and send a radiology report to your referrer.
  • You should follow up with your referrer to discuss your results.


What is an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of organs, tissues and blood flow. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs as well as blood flowing through vessels.

Why has my doctor/midwife requested an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a non-invasive investigation to assist in monitoring your pregnancy. This examination may provide valuable information about your pregnancy that will assist the doctor/midwife in ensuring a successful outcome for you and your baby.

There are many reasons a doctor may request an ultrasound. Some of these are:

  • To assist in determining the gestational age (when the baby is due)
  • To assess the growth of a baby
  • To assess the number of babies
  • To check for possible abnormalities
  • To follow-up on any bleeding during the pregnancy
How much does a pregnancy scan cost?

Maternity Services Benefits 

To be eligible for Maternity Benefits funded pregnancy scans you must be a New Zealand resident/citizen and you must have a valid referral form from a midwife, doctor, or specialist. 

At Taranaki Radiology a copayment is charged for funded maternity scans. 

If you are not a New Zealand resident, or you do not have a referral form, full private prices apply. 

Am I allowed to bring a friend or relative to my appointment?

Due to the complex nature of this ultrasound examination, the sonographer needs a very high level of concentration to obtain the necessary images.  This medical examination is best performed with limited distractions and we request that only one support person is present during the examination.

Will the Sonographer tell me the results of my scan?

No. Even though Sonographers are registered and specially trained to perform your examination, only Radiologists are qualified to interpret your results. For this reason our Sonographer cannot discuss what they see with you. The Radiologist will interpret your images and a report will be sent to your referrer.

How long does an obstetric ultrasound scan take?

Scans typically take between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on the trimester.

What is the difference between a nuchal translucency scan and an obstetric ultrasound scan?

A nuchal translucency scan is an ultrasound usually performed between 11th to 13th week of pregnancy. It is a screening process (ultrasound and blood test) to assess the risk for your baby of certain chromosomal abnormalities, including Down Syndrome. Please note that Taranaki Radiology does not perform nuchal translucency scans.

Is this test safe for my baby?

Ultrasound is a very safe and accurate investigative tool used to assess many organs in the body. Ultrasound uses harmless high frequency inaudible sound waves to obtain images. Ultrasound waves are not dangerous or irritating to adults or children. There is NO radiation with an ultrasound examination.

Service Location: Fulford


56 Fulford Street, New Plymouth

8am-6pm Monday, 8am-5pm Tuesday – Friday

Phone 06 759 4317 extension 700