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Your 11-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect & What You Can See

last year6 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Curious about why you might have an 11-week ultrasound and what it can tell you? We’ll take you through all the details here.

11-week ultrasound

An ultrasound in the first trimester can help your healthcare team work out how long you’ve been pregnant.

That’s why it’s commonly referred to as a dating scan.

While it’s more common at 12 weeks, it’s possible you may have an 11-week ultrasound for this reason.

And finding out how long your peanut’s been hanging out in there is not the only reason you may have this procedure in the first few months of pregnancy.

We’ll take you through all the details.

In this article: 📝

  • What is an ultrasound?
  • What can you see at 11-week ultrasound?
  • What does an 11-week fetus look like?
  • What should baby heartbeat be at 11 weeks?
  • Can you tell the gender at 11-week ultrasound?

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a medical procedure that uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your body.











And if that sounds like magic, it’s because it pretty much is.

An instrument called a transducer (AKA magic wand) is used over your abdomen or inserted into your vagina to create sound waves.

These bounce around in your body and gather information to send to an ultrasound machine (via the transducer again).

And this intelligence is used to construct an image of what’s happening inside you.

It’s standard practice to have at least one ultrasound during your pregnancy.

The procedure is a safe way for your doctors to get inside info on your pregnancy so that, together, you can make informed decisions about your health and the health of your growing baby.

It’s important that ultrasounds only be conducted by medical professionals and only when medically necessary. Some private companies offer 3D and 4D “keepsake ultrasounds.” While a detailed image or video of your growing baby might seem nice to have, we just don’t know whether excessive exposure to this technology is good for us long-term.

That’s why experts advise that you stick to having this procedure done when your medical team says it’s a good idea.

The bottom line?

As tempting as it may be to get a commercial 11-week 3D ultrasound, it’s best to save this procedure for the doctor’s office.

What can you see at 11-week ultrasound?

At this point, you won’t be able to see a whole lot of detail when it comes to the development of your little one’s limbs and organs.

For this reason, there’s a good possibility that you won’t actually have an ultrasound at 11 weeks pregnant.

But there are reasons you might.

One is a nuchal translucency (or NT) screening.

It’s done in the first trimester and uses ultrasound technology to screen for genetic differences like Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart problems.

The test is done by measuring the fluid at the back of a fetus’s neck.

If there’s more fluid than average, it could be a very early sign of one of these conditions.

It’s important to note that an NT screening is not a diagnostic test, which means it won’t tell you for sure whether your baby will have a specific medical condition.

It’s more about determining the risk.

Other reasons to have an 11-week ultrasound include to:

  • Estimate how long you’ve been pregnant.
  • Check if there’s more than one human growing in there.
  • Examine the fetus’s heart rate (more on this in a moment).
  • Assess if there’s been an ectopic pregnancy, when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus — a condition that will, unfortunately, lead to early pregnancy loss.

A routine ultrasound, referred to as the anatomy scan or the 20-week ultrasound, is usually done in the second trimester.

This scan will give you information on the fetus’s size, weight, position, and movement.

Your health team will also be able to see the location of the placenta (the organ that provides nourishment and oxygen to your growing baby) and if there’s enough amniotic fluid in there to protect them.

What does an 11-week fetus look like?

While it may be hard to see all the details on an 11 week sonogram (that’s the image produced by an ultrasound), here’s the look your baby is sporting at this point:

  • They’re about 1.57 inches long (think Brussels sprout)
  • Their webbed fingers and toes are turning into more human-like digits, and their nails are starting to develop.
  • Their heads make up about a third of their whole being.
  • Their ears look more and more like ears every day.
  • Their eyelids are closed.

By about 12 weeks, they’ll be fully formed.

From there, their job is to keep growing and developing so that they’re ready for the big world out there.

What should baby heartbeat be at 11 weeks?

At 11 weeks, your Brussels sprout’s heartbeat will have likely increased to above 160 bpm (from 110 bpm at about 5 to 6 weeks).

A week 11 ultrasound may be able to give you this info. (In fact, some ultrasounds may even be able to detect a heartbeat as early as six weeks

But it’s only at about 10 weeks that you can expect to hear a heartbeat on a Doppler fetal monitor.

While your developing baby might be assessed for an irregular heartbeat (fetal arrhythmia) as early as 12 to 14 weeks, it’s likely that this would only be detected at the later 20-week assessment.

Can you tell the gender at 11-week ultrasound?

Answering the 11-week ultrasound gender question means looking into what gender actually is.

While sex refers to differences in our physical bodies, gender refers to how we identify in the social world.

When a baby is born, they are assigned a sex at birth based on their biological characteristics, like reproductive organs and chromosomal makeup.

So with that in mind, it’s definitely not possible to tell gender through an 11-week ultrasound.

But what about sex?

How much can we see on a sonogram that might give you a clue?

This research tells us that you’ll be able to get an accurate result about 75% of the time in the 11- to 14-week period.

If you wait until after this, the rate goes up to 100%.

So yes, it’s possible to tell what sex your baby will be assigned at birth at an 11-week ultrasound.

But if you want a more surefire prediction, you might want to wait a little longer to find out.

Curious about what other mamas-to-be have navigated this time in their pregnancy?

Check-in with your Peanut community.

We’re having the conversation.

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