What to Expect At Your 20-Week Pregnancy Ultrasound

As an eager mom-to-be, you prob­a­bly have many ques­tions about the bun­dle of joy that is grow­ing inside you. By your 20-week ultra­sound, you are about halfway through your preg­nan­cy and your baby bump is show­ing. Many peo­ple may be ask­ing you if you think you are hav­ing a boy or girl, but your 20-week ultra­sound has much more impor­tance than just show­ing you a sneak peak of your baby. The main pur­pose of the 20-week preg­nan­cy ultra­sound is to ensure that your baby is devel­op­ing nor­mal­ly, not to reveal the gen­der of your baby.

The 20-week preg­nan­cy ultra­sound is a screen­ing exam that eval­u­ates your baby’s growth, devel­op­ment and deter­mines how your preg­nan­cy is pro­gress­ing through the use of sound waves. The echo from the sound waves bounce off your baby which trans­lates into video images. Preg­nan­cy ultra­sound is com­plex because there are many struc­tures in your devel­op­ing baby that need to be eval­u­at­ed, doc­u­ment­ed and mea­sured. This test is com­mon­ly per­formed when you are between 20 and 22 weeks.

Pri­or to Your Exam

Depend­ing on your obstet­rics prac­tice, some 20-week ultra­sounds are per­formed in-office while oth­ers will be referred to a radi­ol­o­gy depart­ment. Either way, the per­son per­form­ing your exam is well-trained and spe­cial­izes in ultrasounds.

On the day of your exam, you will be asked to drink a spe­cif­ic amount of water one hour before your appoint­ment time. Try to go to the bath­room first and then drink your flu­ids. You are sup­posed to drink the water ear­ly enough before your ultra­sound so that it has time to fill your blad­der, but not so much that you are try­ing to hold it” while in the wait­ing room. Above all, the less air that is in your blad­der, the clear­er the images of your baby will gen­er­al­ly be.

Dur­ing Your Appointment

At DMG, we ask that only one adult accom­pa­ny you dur­ing the tech­ni­cal por­tion of the ultra­sound exam­i­na­tion. The tech­nol­o­gist or physi­cian will be con­cen­trat­ing dur­ing the exam and may be qui­et. Don’t wor­ry, they are doing their job and need to ensure that they get images and mea­sure­ments of cer­tain struc­tures of the baby.

Upon com­ple­tion of the tech­ni­cal por­tion, an addi­tion­al fam­i­ly mem­ber or two will be invit­ed into the room to see live imag­ing of your baby. To help ensure qual­i­ty and safe­ty, chil­dren will need to remain with addi­tion­al fam­i­ly member/​s in the wait­ing room until this por­tion of the ultra­sound is com­plete. A preg­nan­cy ultra­sound gen­er­al­ly takes about 30 minutes.

What is Looked at Dur­ing an Ultrasound

The technologist/​physician will show you your baby dur­ing your ultra­sound as well as take a lot of dif­fer­ent images and mea­sure­ments including:

  • Shape and struc­ture of your baby’s head
  • Face to check for a cleft lip
  • Spine at length and cross sec­tion to make sure bones align and the skin cov­ers the spine at the back
  • Abdom­i­nal wall, to make sure it cov­ers all the inter­nal organs
  • Depend­ing on the baby’s posi­tion and ges­ta­tion­al age, the tech­nol­o­gist will do their best to deter­mine the gen­der of your baby, if desired. Please keep in mind that ultra­sound is not 100% accu­rate in fetal sex determination.

At DuPage Med­ical Group, you will be pro­vid­ed with a CD of images from your ultra­sound upon com­ple­tion of the exam (offices do not pro­vide CD). Under HIPAA guide­lines: video, cam­eras and cell phones are not allowed inside the exam room with the inten­tion of doc­u­ment­ing or record­ing the exam.

If the technologist/​physician sees a par­tic­u­lar issue, or if the baby’s growth is falling out­side the pre­dict­ed range, addi­tion­al test­ing may be rec­om­mend­ed. Don’t pan­ic. Many times a fol­low-up test shows that any sus­pi­cious find­ings are no cause for con­cern. In the unlike­ly event that there is a health prob­lem, your ultra­sound results can help your physi­cian deter­mine the best care plan for you and your baby.

For most par­ents, the 20-week preg­nan­cy ultra­sound is a very hap­py expe­ri­ence and the best tool for your physi­cian to deter­mine how your baby is progressing.