The 20 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound – What to Expect At Your Anatomy Scan

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The 20 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound – also called the 20-week anatomy scan – is the mother of all pregnancy ultrasounds! While every pregnancy differs, most pregnant women will have an ultrasound sometime during the fifth month of pregnancy to assess the anatomy and health of their baby.

When is the anatomy scan?

The anatomy scan has typically been referred to as the 20 weeks pregnant ultrasound. Of course, that’s not always when it’s performed. The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology recommends this standard ultrasound be performed somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy (for routine pregnancies, that is).

Try to wait until at least 20 weeks of pregnancy for this ultrasound.

You should absolutely have your anatomy scan ultrasound whenever your doctor tells you to. They know you and your pregnancy best. Plus, this isn’t medical advice anyway. It’s just helpful information and general tips.

However, many patients schedule their ultrasound based on their own convenience, their partner’s schedule, the availability of ultrasound appointments, and their provider’s recommendations. Knowing ahead of time that you’re going to have this 20 weeks pregnant ultrasound can make it a lot easier to plan.

My provider always told me that while I could have it a little earlier, they really wanted me to go closer to my 21st week of pregnancy. Basically, later was better because Baby is developing so rapidly. They said they would get the best view of Baby’s organs if I were willing to hold out a few extra days.

20 weeks pregnant ultrasound

Can you find out the sex at your 20 weeks pregnant ultrasound?

Technology has evolved rapidly in this area. Many women know the sex of their baby well before the 20-week ultrasound. However, if you don’t already know, you can typically find out the sex of your baby at your anatomy scan. Of course, if you don’t want to know, that’s perfectly fine too!

I say “typically” because . . . well, sometimes Baby just isn’t willing to show off the goods. It’s possible you may not be able to see everything you want at your appointment. That includes the sex of your baby. 

From my personal experience, we were in the ultrasound room with the sonographer for over an hour with my second son. He just would not get in a good position to give us a glimpse of his fourth heart chamber or his boy parts.

They were about to send us home and have us come back the following day when he finally rolled over. Turns out, he’s a boy and all four chambers of his heart were in great shape. Hooray!

What if my ultrasound is abnormal?

The anatomy scan can be a bit worrying for expectant moms. It’s so exciting to get a look at your baby in such great detail. Even if you had a 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound or a 12 weeks pregnant ultrasound, Baby’s development is so much more advanced by the time of your 20 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan. 

You’ll get to see your baby’s profile clearly. The face usually shows a lot more detail than in any previous scans. As mentioned earlier, you’ll likely learn the sex of your baby (if you didn’t already know). You may even glimpse the adorable sight of your baby sucking his or her thumb. 

But the anatomy scan has serious medical purposes. Evaluating the health and development of your baby means not every parent gets good news during their 20-week ultrasound. Your ultrasound tech and/or radiologist may notice problems right away and discuss them with you.

On the other hand, they may identify areas of concern that warrant further investigation. In that case, they’ll likely ask you to come back for an even more detailed scan. This may be done at the same facility or it may be done elsewhere with specialists, based on the findings. 

Will the 20 weeks scan be my last ultrasound?

Possibly. And if so, that’s actually really good news!

Many providers only do ultrasounds after the 20-week anatomy scan if there’s a problem. If your pregnancy is progressing nicely and the baby appears properly positioned for delivery, the next “look” you get at your baby may very well be face to face!

If you do have additional scans after the 20-week ultrasound, your provider will explain the reason(s). Your particular provider may just perform them routinely or there may be a medical reason for the extra supervision.

Regardless, the 20-week ultrasound plays an integral role in ensuring a pregnancy progresses as healthily and safely as possible for both mom and baby.

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