What Happens At The Twelve Week Ultrasound?
When you receive a date for your twelve-week ultrasound it may seem completely surreal. I remember daydreaming about that date knowing that it would hopefully be the time where I could finally reveal my pregnancy to the outside world provided everything went well. It also marks the end of the first trimester which for a lot of women is overshadowed by fatigue and sickness due to the surging hormones and body changes.
The twelve-week ultrasound can also be referred to as a “booking in appointment” and is likely to be your very first encounter with the maternity hospital you will be receiving your care from. It can feel really daunting for this reason. You may have never stepped foot in a maternity hospital or unit before and that in itself is a bit scary. As well as a scan you could also be meeting a midwife who will chat with you, take your measurements and discuss your pregnancy to date. You may be asked about your birthing and feeding preferences as well as having a blood test.
Twelve-week marks the beginning of your second trimester. The purpose of the twelve-week scan is the first in-depth look at the baby in your tummy. It will also confirm that you are carrying just one baby (many parents find out that they are carrying multiples during this scan). At this stage, your baby has little toes and a large head which can make the whole thing suddenly feel very real. The twelve-week scan is an important time for your care team to check on the baby and ensure that they are developing and growing properly.
Before the scan, your sonographer may ask you to drink a bottle of water. This will be communicated to you in your letter or text message so you can do it on the way to the hospital or private clinic. In some cases, it can help the uterus move into the positions that make the scan clearer.
The sonographer will put a cold gel on your tummy before the scan. He or she will then place a wand on top of the gel on your lower abdomen. This is the device that transmits a picture on to the sonographer screen. It will show what is going on in the womb.
The images you see on the monitor may look grey and unclear but at twelve weeks you are likely to see the baby moving and bouncing. Features like the chin and male genitalia can sometimes be seen too but you will have to wait until the twenty-week scan if you wish to ask for a reveal of the gender.
The sonographer will take a number of measurements from the pictures that the scan machine shows. They will measure the baby’s head and limbs to make sure that they are developing as they should be. They will also measure the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck which can help rule out certain chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome.
In total, the twelve-week scan takes 15-20 minutes but is understandably coupled with anxiety for parents. The risk of miscarriage after the twelve-week scan is very small and this is the reason why a lot of people wait until this point to share their pregnancy news with the world. A positive twelve-week scan can be a really reassuring experience for both parents.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.