After an intense first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the time has finally arrived for your anomaly ultrasound scan – a pivotal appointment whose name strikes fear into the hearts of most first time parents.
While the chances of miscarriage after this stage of pregnancy are much smaller, this anomaly scan at 20 weeks provides your midwife with full disclosure about your baby’s health and development, checking everything from bone and organ development to blood flow and the strength of your baby’s heart.
If anything is out of place, missing or unusual, they’ll find out about it now. As a result, this appointment is, without doubt, the scariest so far. Don’t be worried though if you are booked in for this a week or two before or after your 20 weeks is up…the timing is entirely down to your hospital’s scheduling, rather than urgent need, in most cases.
After being ushered into a darkened room (45 minutes after the planned start time, if our experience is anything to go by!), the scan begins with the usual squirt of KY jelly on her now sizeable bump. But this time you’ll be asked a new question that you weren’t at your 12 week checkup:
“Would you like to know the sex of the baby?”
For it is at around 20 weeks of pregnancy that you can just about make out whether you are having a boy or a girl. But don’t go into the appointment expecting to find out for certain, as sometimes the gender can’t be confirmed at this stage (depending on if the baby is in the right position or not).
We (mainly my wife) wanted it to be a surprise so asked not to be told, although that didn’t stop her from taking a sneaky look while the baby’s lower half was being inspected. She’s adamant she saw the cross section of two large testicles, although I’m sure she imagined it. Surely it’s far too early to notice those?
Top Tip: if you really don’t want to find out the sex, it’s worth reminding the ultrasound technician to ask you to look away at the pivotal moment, to avoid any unplanned flashes of the genitals!
But the real reason for this appointment isn’t to confirm the sex of your baby but rather to check that everything is developing as it should be.
So don’t be concerned if the sonographer is a bit quiet during the scan itself as they will be busy locating and measuring all of your baby’s vital organs, bones and joints to make sure they are all present and the right size.
By far the most impressive moment of the scan is when the sonographer flips a switch and you can see the baby’s blood flow, with red (oxygenated) and blue (deoxygenated) blood, pumping around its tiny body. The wonders of modern medicine!
Finally, don’t be surprised if your sonographer is a trainee – they are always accompanied by a fully qualified colleague and are generally much kinder in terms of the amount of pressure they use when prodding your other half’s bump.
Only at the end of our scan did the qualified sonographer take over to get a good photo of the baby’s profile, pushing her ultrasound wand seriously hard into my pregnant wife’s belly.
“This baby just doesn’t want to cooperate” she said irritably, pushing harder still. “Hopefully not a sign of things to come!” Definitely a trait the baby has inherited from my wife…
Overall though, all was well with our little one, thank God, with 10 fingers, 10 toes and a strong heart. Only it’s tummy was somewhat larger than average…I’ll put my hand up for that one, which almost certainly has come from my side of the family!
Just 17 weeks and 6 days left to go…
So how did your 20 weeks anomaly scan go? Did you experience anything different? As always, we’d love to hear from you, so please do share your stories with the group via the comments section below.