The 12 Week Ultrasound

12-Week Ultrasound Explained

January 19, 2019

12-Week Ultrasound Explained

12-Week Ultrasound Explained
12-Week Ultrasound Explained

Around 12 weeks pregnant, you may have your first full-on anatomy scan. Yay!

What will happen during the 12-week ultrasound? Your ultrasound tech will put some (cold) gel on your belly and glide a transducer over it with mild pressure. The transducer sends out sound waves, and when those waves hit solid tissue, they create an image on the screen.

Tip: If you drink a cup or two of water before your scan, you’ll get a clearer image.

The 12-week ultrasound is not just for the pretty pictures. (Though those are the best part and make a great profile pic for your Babylist registry.) So why get it done? The scan ensures everything is fine with you and baby by:

  • Confirming the baby’s heartbeat and your due date
  • Detecting potential problems
  • Making sure your body is ready for pregnancy

The tech looks at your fallopian tubes, uterus and placenta to see if you have a tilted uterus, placenta previa or other conditions that might make your pregnancy or labor unusual. These complications are very rare, but it’s great to check them out early.

(You won’t find out gender for sure until the 20-week anatomy scan, but if you don’t want to know, be sure to tell your tech during your 12-week ultrasound.)

You’ll also have the option of having a nuchal translucency scan, where the tech measures the back of your baby’s neck to test for a few particular issues. If this area is thicker than average (more than 2.5 mm), it could be an indicator of Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or heart problems. This doesn’t mean your baby has any of these issues, but has a greater risk of them. If this is the case, your doctor may suggest getting diagnostic tests such as CVS or amniocentesis.

In addition to your scan, your doc will send you up for a blood screening tests that measures plasma protein-A and human chorionic gonadotropin. The results of the 12-week ultrasound along with your blood tests give your doctors an estimate of your risk. Statistically speaking this is all very unlikely, and your docs can provide all the relevant information.

If your partner’s trying to figure out which prenatal visit to come to, this would be one of the most important—and most exciting—to join you for. It’s great to have a hand to hold and to coo over those 12-week ultrasound pictures together.

You are this close to the second trimester line!

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