Second-trimester routine ultrasound screening: expectations and experiences in a nationwide Swedish sample




To investigate, in a large nationwide Swedish sample, pregnant women's expectations of the routine second-trimester ultrasound examination, with participants expressing themselves in their own words, and to determine whether they had been given sufficient information about why and how the examination was performed, and about possible risks. We focused specifically on reasons for women not having a positive experience.


Of 4600 eligible Swedish-speaking women, 3061 were recruited to the study in early pregnancy, during three 1-week periods spread evenly over 1 year (1999–2000), and these women completed a questionnaire at a mean of 16 weeks' gestation. A follow-up questionnaire at 2 months after delivery was completed by 2730 women. The representativeness of the sample was assessed by comparison with the total Swedish birth cohort of 1999.


The most prominent expectation about the up-coming scan was confirmation that the baby was well, followed by confirmation that the pregnancy was real. Detailed information, such as date of delivery and sex of the baby, was mentioned less often, and very few wrote about the examination as an exciting and joyful experience. After the birth, a large majority was satisfied with information about why (88%) and how (87%) the examination was performed, but only 58% said they had received sufficient information about possible risks. 94% had a positive experience of the scan, and those who had not had more ambivalent feelings about their pregnancy. Women with negative feelings about the scan were more often single and of non-Swedish background, and emotional problems were more common in this group.


Women's expectations of the routine second-trimester scan differ from those of caregivers, focusing on general reassurance rather than specific information. Level of satisfaction with the scan was high, but information given about risks could be improved. Women with ambivalent or negative feelings about pregnancy may have difficulties enjoying the examination. Copyright © 2008 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.