What Should You Expect at Your Twelve Week Ultrasound?
The twelfth week of pregnancy is an important and exciting milestone. The twelfth week marks the end of the first trimester (one down, two to go!) and at this point, your baby is fully formed, right down to the teeny-tiny toes. For many women, an ultrasound at twelve weeks provides the first glimpse of what is happening inside, and it is certainly the first in-depth look at the little one you’ll be holding in a matter of months.
Why get a Twelve-Week Ultrasound?
Beyond the pure joy of seeing your baby for the first time, the twelve-week ultrasound provides your doctor with important information about how your baby is developing.
The twelve-week ultrasound allows your healthcare provider to:
- Make sure you are carrying just one baby and not two (or more)!
- Check the baby’s heartbeat. It’s usually around 160bpm at this point.
- Look at baby’s head, chest, arms, legs, and sometimes kidneys to ensure everything is developing as expected.
- Measure baby from the crown to the rump to determine baby’s gestational age.
- Measure nuchal translucency (a collection of fluid under the skin at the back of your baby’s neck).
- Nuchal translucency is an early measurement that can help to identify babies that might be at risk for a chromosomal abnormality.
How the Ultrasound Works
To have your 12 week scan make an appointment with the maternity hospital or you can schedule an appointment at t private ultrasound clinic such as Ultrasound Dimensions.
Before your appointment, drink a little water – a slightly full bladder helps push your uterus into position for easier viewing. Don’t overdo it! You don’t want to spend your first glimpse of baby wishing you could empty your bladder.
A medical diagnostic sonographer or midwife will put a little gel on your belly to ensure good contact and comfort with the transducer – a wand that slides across your belly to provide an image of what’s going on inside.
What You’ll See, and What You Won’t
On the monitor, you will be able to see what the sonographer sees, though it may be difficult for you to interpret all of the images. The image appears in black and white and various shades of grey. If the baby is in a good position, you may get a 3D look at baby as well.
Your baby is about three inches long right now, and you’ll be able to see him or her stretching, bouncing, and moving around.
Speaking of gender, the external genitals are apparent on a twelve-week ultrasound, but they appear only as a small nub between the legs. There are theories about how to tell the difference between a boy and a girl at this stage, but they aren’t universally accepted and you’ll probably need to wait until later to know for sure. In any event, the baby’s nose and chin are easy to make out and provide you with your first look at your baby’s face.
In all, the twelve-week ultrasound takes about 10-15 minutes to perform. Fifteen minutes to lie back in a quiet, darkened room and get a first look at the little one growing inside of you. Enjoy that quiet and that first glimpse of what’s to come.