34 answers

How Early Can an Embryo Be Seen in an Ultrasound?

I just went to the doc yesterday to have an ultrasound to determine how far along I am in my pregnancy. I just had my son 9 months ago, I was breastfeeding exclusively, so I never had a period. I took a test last week and to my surprise, it was positive! My doc. confirmed that I was pregnant and requested I do an ultrasound to find out exactly how far along I was. When the technician was doing my ultrasound, we could not see the "baby" and she mentioned my gestational sac was very small and that I could be really early. For now, I have just been ordered to do blood work every other day so they can test my HCG levels. Does anyone know at how many weeks the baby could be seen in ultrasound or has anyone else ever had this happen?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your encouraging words and information. I spoke to my doc. today. My HCG levels are doubling like they are suppose to. On Mon. my levels read 1582 and then by Wed. they were 3321. I have another ultrasound scheduled for next Tues. He said we should be able to get a better indication of how far along I am then. This was a relief to hear. This baby was certainly a surprise but obviously something I really wanted deep down. Thanks again!

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I had an ultrasound done at 5 1/2 weeks. I was having some bleeding so my doctor did one. We saw the sac and everything was fine. I now have a beautiful little boy.

My 5 week old was conceived 8/12 and I had a positive home test by Labor Day. I had some abdominal pain, but the doc said he could see 'something' but wouldn't confirm a pregnancy until he saw a heartbeat. Two weeks later, no luck. End of September, they heard the heartbeat. So about 6-7 weeks.

I just found out monday that I'm pregnant... and the doctor said it was too early to do an ultrasound... we are doing one in 2 weeks.. and so they did blood work and said I'm about 3-4 weeks pregnant... so you're fine don't worry!

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I had an ultrasound done at 5 1/2 weeks. I was having some bleeding so my doctor did one. We saw the sac and everything was fine. I now have a beautiful little boy.

Cindy D is correct. As of now your MD is doing the right things.

I wasn't sure how far along I was when I started having cramping and bleeding. I went to the ER where they did several tests including an ultrasound. The technician couldn't see anything so she did a vaginal ultrasound. At that point she was able to tell me I was 5 weeks and 3 days pregnant. A blood test confirmed that timeline. I then bled for a month! So I did blood tests every couple of days for 3 weeks. The blood tests are very accurate so as long as those are coming up with elevated levels, you should be fine. Vaginal ultrasounds are not cheap but if you are really concerned with how far along you are, you could ask for one of them. Good luck and congratulations!

I'm no doctor, but I wonder if just having had a baby, so to speak, is the reason why it's so hard to see. If I remember correctly, my first baby showed up on the ultrasound around 5 weeks. I was taking fertility treatments so I was getting "ultrasounded" with every checkup.

All that you are being told is correct AND it also depends on the quality of the ultrasound machine.

Congratulations!!!!!! My doctor could see mine at 7 weeks!
Good Luck

I just found out monday that I'm pregnant... and the doctor said it was too early to do an ultrasound... we are doing one in 2 weeks.. and so they did blood work and said I'm about 3-4 weeks pregnant... so you're fine don't worry!

usually the guide is 5 weeks. Unless its twins then its like 6-7 weeks. I know bc I just went thru this in august. Same thing happenend to me and finally we were able to see the little thing. it drove me nuts with worry. But I forgot that with my first child I didn't even know I was pregnant until 6 weeks along. That's how busy I was. Good luck.

With me they were able to do a vaginal ultrasound at 5 1/2 weeks and they say two embryos both with a heart beat.

I think it's between 5-6 weeks where you can a baby. Until then, it's very typcial to only see a sac. i wouldn't be worried.
Congrats on your SURPRISE!

With my first preganancy, my doctor was surprised to see my son at 7 weeks. She said it is usually 8 or 9 weeks. I wouldn't panic if they think it is really early, just wait a few weeks and keep up with the blood tests. It is probably their only way to check on you right now.

From my own experience, the baby should be visible by 7 weeks at the latest, not just the gestational sac. Two times, I had an u/sound at 7 weeks and only saw the sac. Both times I had a miscarriage. The third time, we saw the baby at 7 weeks and now I'm expecting in 3 weeks.
I believe it might even be visible by 5 weeks, but I'd follow the hormone levels to see what's really going on.
Good luck

G B-

I do know that your HCG level should be pretty much doubling every other day. You cannot see a sac unless the level is somewhere higher than 2000. I think it is around 2500- but I'm sure you could find that exact info. on-line somewhere. That means that the difference of a day is a huge deal when looking at the ultrasound. Hang in there and don't pee on any sticks in the meantime!

Congratulations on your 2 little ones and remember that there is a plan for you. As Eckart Tolle writes in his book A New Earth, which I paraphrase- "The experience you are having right now is exactly the one that is meant for you." Not always the easiest the deal with but it always helps me to realize that I'm really not in control of the big stuff!

Good luck!

I believe most commonly it is at 8-9 weeks along. Good luck & God Bless!

You will not be able to see the embryo in the uterus until usually around 7 to 8 weeks. I know that I had an ultrasound done when I was about 4 weeks and they still could not see it but when I went back about 3 weeks later there it was. I would say you are just really early. Hope all is going well.

i was 2 weeks pregnant and they were able to see the embryo at that point and were able to tell that it was 2 weeks :) that was my son i was pregnant with and he will be 13 this year. if they were able to see that 13 years ago, i am sure they can see even better today :)

With my first I was in the ER at 5 weeks saw and heard his heart beat! Was cramping and spotting. With my 2nd 6 weeks at the doctors office again cramping and spotting. I think everyone is different so don't worry unless someone tells you too. So keep the faith and hope alive! You have done this before it's not easy and you stress a lot but try not to do that to yourself! Good luck

embryos are usually seen in u/s until about the 6th week. a very small sac can be seen at this time and can also be measured for a more accurate gestational age.

My doctor always did my first ultrasound at eight weeks.

Hey GB, THis also happend to me, I was very early, like 4 weeks maybe and all they could see was the "sac" so don't worry, you just need a little more time and I am sure they will see the baby just fine! I have 4 kids and 1 step daughter, ages 15, 14, 13, 2 (will be 3 in July) and 10 months. I am happy for you! Congrats! Best of luck, M.

Hi G.B.

You got some great advice. In my case they were able to to a vaginal ultrasound at 5 weeks and they were able to see the embryo. They also had me testing the HCG levels every other day to make sure they were doubling. I went back and had another vaginal ultrasound at 8 weeks and they were able to see the heartbeat.

Good luck!!!!

I Saw mine at 5 weeks. From what my doctor told me, is that as soon as the heart starts beating is when you can see it. I had an U/S too early and they couldn't see anything, and the next week he was there. So you probably are just too early to see on the U/S.

Good Luck!

My 5 week old was conceived 8/12 and I had a positive home test by Labor Day. I had some abdominal pain, but the doc said he could see 'something' but wouldn't confirm a pregnancy until he saw a heartbeat. Two weeks later, no luck. End of September, they heard the heartbeat. So about 6-7 weeks.

The same thing happened to me... you just happened to find out very early that you were pregnant. My ob/gyn had me wait 2 weeks and then come back to see if the sac had gotten bigger. It was a difficult 2 weeks but made me realize how much I wanted the "surprise" baby. He just turned 3 a few weeks ago! Best of luck!

Hi G B,
First, congratulations, as you are pregnant!

I'm not an expert, but I think the earliest they can see the gestational sac and fetal is about 4 weeks, and then the heartbeat should be detected at 5.5 weeks, or about 27 days after conception. I suggest returning to see your doctor in one week, which is probably what was suggested. Also, beware of what the technicians say: depend on what the doctor says. I fully respect them, but sometimes they take the liberty to say something that could lead to worry when it was not necessary. If your HCG levels are doubling every 2 days, that is normal.

I today have a perfectly healthy 3 month-old baby boy, but my 1st pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 8 wks. Within the first weeks of that not viable pregnancy, my ultrasounds showed a gestational sac, then a heartbeat at 6.5 (too late acc. to docs), then the embryo measured smaller than expected (as though it was delayed a week in size) in my 7 wk scan. My HCG levels were normal throughout the entire 8 wk span. Though, this is solely my experience. Plenty of women have similar scans and go on to have perfect babies. I have a few friends who have lived this, with weeks of worrying due to early size concerns, but great end results. Also, medical staff often "guesstimate" comments in early pregnancy, which can lead to unnecessary worries. They are often trying to medically assess and and to carefully lay out the statistics, but it is sometimes hard to handle such news. Their job is medical, rather than therapeutic/emotional/spiritual. Early pregnancy is somewhat of a guessing game, it is really up to a higher power!

I wish you all the best!

You can see it as early as 6 weeks but at 8 weeks you can see the heart beating

Is there any reason you can't just wait three or four weeks until it would be more obvious anyway?


Breastfeeding isn't a very effective form of birth control. It works pretty well as long as you are exclusively breastfeeding (no water, no supplements, no bottles, no pacifier, no solid foods and baby not sleeping through the night - but the more of those things that you are doing, the more ineffective nursing is as birth control). I've managed to get pregnant twice while breastfeeding so if you really don't want to get pregnant, you really should use some form of birth control (I really didn't care if I got pregnant so it wasn't such an issue for me).

But, all that said, I've had 2 high risk pregnancies and 2 miscarriages. How early they can see a baby depends entirely on how sensitive the equipment is and how good the person is who is doing the ultrasound. For a really early pregnancy a transvaginal ultrasound will show you much more than one done through you abdomen. The earliest ultrasound I've had that I could "see" the baby was 2-3 weeks (3 weeks gestation which is a bit different than how they typically count how pregnant you are - they usually count from your last period so you add 2 weeks to the gestation age typically - so I was 2-3 weeks gestational but considered 4-5 weeks along I suppose) - all we could really see is the "yolk sac" and a heartbeat. But I also had an ultrasound at 8 weeks with a different pregnancy where they couldn't see the baby at all, said I was miscarrying and had me come back a week later. I wasn't bleeding and my hormone levels weren't dropping so they did another ultrasound and there he was, plain as day. He's a healthy 19 month old now.

The HCG levels will tell you a lot. They should basically at least double every other day in the early stages of a healthy pregnancy. If they don't, that is a very bad sign and you will likely miscarry. At some point (I can't remember when but later like 7 or 8 weeks or so) the levels quit doubling but should still continue to rise. They can also date how far you are along based on those HCG levels, assuming it is a healthy pregnancy.

Good luck! I know all of this is very stressful.


Usually around 5 weeks or so the sac is visible on u/s. By 6 1/2 - 7 weeks the heartbeat is usually visible. It just looks like a tiny flashing light, and you still really can't see the baby at that point, just a spot that will become the baby. The actual baby isn't visible until 8 weeks or so. That's been my experience, anyway.

My doctor confirmed my twin pregnancy at 5.5 weeks and was was able to see the embryo and the heartbeat. He wasn't able to do that with the abdominal ultrasound, but the vaginal u/s clearly showed two sacs and two heartbeats. Good luck to you. Don't worry and just take your vitamins and take care of yourself.

at about 5 weeks. As a matter of routine, my Doc does an in office vaginal sonogram/ultrasound... with this you can see the gestational sac and heartbeat... although with each person, it varies.
While doing the vaginal ultrasound...my Doc "looks around" to find the sac... and to make sure it is implanted in the right place. Sometimes it's hard to find.

Just wait, and then perhaps your doctor will do it again to check...perhaps it is too early still. This type of vaginal sonorgram/ultrasound is also done to evaluate the age of the embryo and to see how far along your are, and yes, to confirm the pregnancy.

the blood tests will also confirm your pregnancy.
Good luck and take care... keep taking pre-natal vitamins in the meantime.
All the best,

The embriotic sac (I think that's what it's called) can be seen at about 4 to 4 1/2 weeks, but viability can not be confirmed before about 6 weeks. I saw the heart beat at 62 3d. According to my OB, once you can see or hear a viable heart beat, your chance of miscarrage is less than 4%.

Also- if the Dr hasn't explained it yet, you want the HCG levels to double every 48-72 hours. At 4w 3d, my beta (HCG level) was 75, at 6w 0d, it was 4198.

Try not to freak out too much about your baby! I know- MUCH MUCH MUCH Easier said than daone! I have been there! that is why my first beta was at 4w 3d and why my first u/s was at 6w 3d. I am not 17w 1d.

I am not sure on the exact time frame. With my 3rd child I had an ultrasound at 5 weeks pregnant and you could tell. Best of luck to you.

do not worry at this point as the gestational sac can be seen as early as 3-4 weeks but fetal pole or fetal heart after 5 weeks gestation .for now the best detection is serial BHCG and to repeat ultrasound in 2 weeks. meanwhile relax and follow your ob/gyn recommendations.good luck.

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