Everything you need to know about Fetal Anomalies

As far pregnancy events go, the anomaly scan is up there with one of the biggest concern. It tends to be referred to as your 20-week detailed scan, but can be between 18 to 22 weeks, so don’t worry if yours is booked in for a bit later. It’s a mum-to-be milestone, so get clued up on what happens at your 20-week scan. Get ready to say “hello” to your Baby!

Also most of the excitement often revolves around potentially finding out whether you’re having a boy or girl, there are other elements to this all-important scan.

What your sonographer looks for?

In summary, this scan is about confirming everything spotted in your 12-week scan – so the number of babies you’re carrying and a heartbeat – as well as seeing how your little one is developing.

You can clearly see individual structures in your baby, such as his heart, brain and organs. How things like his hands, tummy, face, spine and feet are forming, as well as the circumference of his head. All this can help detect certain conditions like cleft lip.

The location of your placenta will also be checked as, if it’s lying low (placenta praevia or simply low placenta) as it can affect your birth. Thus, the scan is all about confirming everything spotted in your 12-week scan including the development and health of your little one.

What happens during the scan

This scan is pretty much the same as your first one (yes, you can bring someone with you and yes, you’ll need a full bladder again) although it may take a bit longer – between 30 minutes and an hour – because it’s looking at more measurements and aspects of your baby’s development.

During the scan, they’ll talk you through findings and will then refer you to your Gynae for further explanations or details. There won’t be a second chance to find out everything you want to know about what you are seeing. If you don’t ask now, you probably won’t have a chance to ask later.

Physical abnormalities in the fetus and fetal organs can often be detected via ultrasound within 22 weeks of pregnancy and normally they are detected at the 20-week detailed scan (usually detect up to 90% of the major abnormalities).

Doppler blood flow studies is a special type of scan which allows the physician to study in great details the blood flow to various fetal organs and the placenta. These studies are often very useful in assessing fetal health.

Girl or boy?

You can ask any question during the scan and tell him or her whether you want to know the sex or gender. Some parents choose not to know the gender (so that it remains as a surprise).

If you wish to know, these are what you need to know. Girl parts look like three lines, while a boy part often appears pretty much as you’d expect (a line). However, be sure not to confuse the umbilical cord and the penis. You might get a surprise at birth if you try to interpret the scan on your own!

What to wear?

Wear a loose-fitting top that can be easily moved up and pants with enough give to be pulled down a bit. Also, DO NOT wear a dress – it is not very nice to wear only your undergarment throughout the scan.

Lastly, just relax! You will be reclining on a padded table or exam chair, the lights will be dimmed and it will be quiet. It’s a perfect environment for “meeting” your baby for the first time!

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