A head-to-toe tour of your baby’s ultrasound

18- to 20-week ultrasound
The 18- to 20-week ultrasound

More than any other prenatal appointment in our office, the appointment for the 18- to 20-week ultrasound is often seen as a social event. At this appointment, we’ll show you the fetus and check on its features and organs – and of course give you the opportunity to learn the baby’s gender.

Patients frequently invite more than just their partner to the ultrasound; parents, in-laws, siblings to the unborn child, and best friends often make the guest list. It’s great to see families and friends gather to show support of the baby and mother-to-be.

But for your healthcare providers who perform and interpret ultrasound images, these visits are more than an opportunity for parents to bond with the baby. We gain a lot of medical information during these exams. Ultrasound – also called sonography – is a type of medical imaging that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images which help us examine the baby’s brain, heart, and spine, among other things.

I have the opportunity to educate my patients directly when I talk with them about their ultrasound. But I thought this video description of what we’re looking at and why during these visits might be helpful to those of you receiving care elsewhere – or those of you who were too overwhelmed during your ultrasound to remember everything I told you!

The 18- to 20-week ultrasound is so much more than measuring the size of the baby or determining its sex. It’s an opportunity for us to look at the development of major organs and see if they’re functioning properly. It can prepare all of us – patient, family, and provider – for problems we might anticipate later in the pregnancy or in the delivery room. But the ultrasound also can be very reassuring that everything is looking just the way it should be at this time in the pregnancy.

If you want more information about pregnancy, labor, and delivery, visit our Your Pregnancy Matters blog. We publish new stories every Tuesday.

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