12 Week Ultrasound: Pictures & What to Expect

Team Peanut
Team Peanut7 months ago8 min read

Do you know what the 12 week ultrasound marks? Drum roll please… The end of the first trimester. Can you believe it? You’re a third of the way there, mama!

12 week ultrasound

As well as this, your 12 week ultrasound might just be the very first time you get to have a glimpse of your little peanut— and that can be more than a little tear-jerking.

(Read: there’s no such thing as an overreaction to this experience — or an underreaction for that matter!)

We’re going to take you through how to prepare, what to expect, and what you might see with some 12 week ultrasound pictures.

In this article: 📝

  • What can I expect at my 12 week ultrasound?
  • What does a baby look like at 12 weeks?
  • Does your due date change at 12 week scan?
  • What does a 12 week ultrasound look like?

What can I expect at my 12 week ultrasound?

So what actually happens at a 12 week ultrasound?

The first thing to know is that there are two types of scans: transabdominal and transvaginal.

Chances are, your 12 week ultrasound will be of the transabdominal variety.

During a transabdominal ultrasound at 12 weeks of pregnancy, you’ll be asked to drink some water beforehand (so your bladder is a little full) and some gel will be rubbed on your bump.

The sonographer will rub their magic wand (aka a transducer) over the top, and the image of your baby-to-be will appear on the screen through the magic use of sound wave imaging.

During a transvaginal 12 weeks pregnant ultrasound, you’ll be asked to pee before your test (unlike a transabdominal), then they’ll need access to your lower body, so you may be asked to change into a hospital gown.

Then, you’ll lie down with your feet in stirrups ‒ we know, it’s not the most comfortable or elegant exam ‒ while the doctor uses a transducer (sort of shaped like a wand), inserted into your vagina so they can look at your uterus more clearly.

Neither the transabdominal nor the transvaginal 12 week ultrasounds are painful, although the transvaginal may feel a little uncomfortable.

Generally speaking, a ‘normal’ 12 week ultrasound tends to be done transabdominally.

12 week ultrasound

What should be checked on the 12 week scan?

There are a few checks that are carried out for a 12 week ultrasound, to make sure both you and baby are healthy:

  • It’s a date! The 12 week ultrasound is also called the dating scan. Your due date can be pretty accurately predicted at your 12 week ultrasound. Of course, “accuracy” is a loose term, but at least you’ll have a fairly good idea ‒ although the best way of telling how far along you are is to use the date of your last period ‒ the first day of your last period is, medically speaking, the first day of your pregnancy (yes, even before you’re technically pregnant).
  • Check in with how the baby growing process is going. Your doc will be able to flag any developmental concerns or chromosomal issues that can result in certain conditions during your 12 week ultrasound.
  • Size up your little one. During your ultrasound at 12 weeks, the measurement will be taken from the top of their head to their bum. The average size of your baby at this stage is around 2.5 inches. That’s about the length of two and a half paperclips!
  • Find out how many babies are actually in there. Yup, this may be the time when you discover whether you need to double up on future high chair purchases—or, in some cases, triple or quadruple up. If you are in for double trouble, your healthcare provider may also be able to tell whether you can expect fraternal or paternal twins. So you might find out during your 12 week ultrasound, twins are around the corner!
  • Nuchal translucency screening. The nuchal translucency screening checks for conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and Edwards Syndrome ‒ although these are usually only conducted if baby is considered to have a slightly higher chance of developing one of these conditions.
  • **You may be able to determine the sex of your little one. If you’re asking Can you see gender at a 12 weeks ultrasound? The answer is… maybe! You might be able to identify the baby’s sex at this stage at about 90% accuracy. Their genitals are currently just a little bump, but they might be able to be detected.

12 week ultrasound: 3D

Sometimes, you can have a 3D 12 week ultrasound, although it’s fairly uncommon.

There’s honestly not much to see at this stage, so if you want to have a 3D ultrasound, it might be better to wait until a little later on ‒ around 27 weeks can be a good time.

Can you tell gender on an ultrasound at 12 weeks?

So.. it’s the 12 week ultrasound ‒ girl vs boy.

Can a 12 week ultrasound tell gender? Well, yes, although there’s a slim chance it may ‘change’ with future ultrasounds.

This is because the 12 week ultrasound gender accuracy is about 90% ‒ so 1 in 10 times, the sex of your baby may be inaccurate.

It’s hard to tell baby’s sex from a 12 week ultrasound ‒ the bits that your ultrasound technician is looking for may be obstructed or just small at this point.

So take it with a pinch of salt, and maybe wait until your second-trimester ultrasound to confirm baby’s sex.

Can you see abnormalities in a 12 week ultrasound?

Yes, some abnormalities can be found during a 12 week ultrasound, although these tend to be more visible and more prominent abnormalities.

However, your doctor may suggest carrying out a nuchal translucency screening, which can pick up an increased chance of baby having a number of abnormalities, such as Down’s Syndrome.

If your doctor isn’t sure about an abnormal 12 week ultrasound, they may advise you to wait until around 20 weeks for another ultrasound to make sure.

Can twins be missed at 12-week scan?

Sometimes, yes, although it’s a very slim chance that multiple babies will be missed during your 12 week ultrasound.

It’s more likely to be missed during your 8 week ultrasound, but by this point, both (or more) babies are easier to see.

When do you get a date for your 12 week scan?

As you’re likely aware, everything to do with pregnancy allows for some leeway in terms of timelines.

Gray areas abound.

Such is the case with 12 week ultrasounds.

While this procedure is often referred to as the 12 week ultrasound, it can take place anywhere between 11 and 14 weeks.

If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant and you’re not sure when your 12 week ultrasound is, contact your doctor, hospital, or midwife to confirm.

12 week ultrasound

What does a baby look like at 12 weeks?

Want to take a peek at your 12 week fetus? Ultrasound!

Whether you opt for a 3D or 4D 12 week ultrasound, or a standard 12 week sonogram, you’ll be able to see your little peanut.

At 12 weeks, your fetus will be about 2.5 inches long ‒ around the size of a lime.

They’ll start to look a little more ‘human’, but they’ve still got a long way to go with growing!

Can you see arms and legs at 12 week scan?

Yes, although they’ll be teeny-tiny, baby’s limbs will be formed, along with their nervous system, circulation, and organs.

Baby’s face will also be taking shape ‒ their bone structure will be set, now they just need to grow!

Do you hear the heartbeat at 12 week scan?

Yes, you’ll likely be able to hear baby’s heartbeat during your 12 week ultrasound ‒ like a little flutter, beating at around 120-160 beats per minute.

Cue the tears!

12 week ultrasound

Does your due date change at 12 week scan?

Yes, your due date may change during your 12 week ultrasound, although if you’re calculating from your LMP (last menstrual period), that’s generally considered to be the most accurate way of predicting your due date.

But it’s worth remembering that only around 5% of babies are born on their due date ‒ first babies, in particular, tend to make their arrival after their due date.

12 week ultrasound

What does a 12 week ultrasound look like?

What will I see at a 12 week scan?

Well, typical 12 week ultrasound pictures are a sea of black and white and gray.

Within that sea, you should be able to make out some mini legs, a mini spine, a mini face (often with a mini nose bone), and a mini body.

In the 12 week sonogram, you’ll also be able to see your placenta and how your blood is moving around inside you to ensure the process all goes smoothly.

You’ll also likely get a beautiful snapshot to go up on your fridge ‒ that’s one of the best things about 12 week ultrasound pictures!

Onwards to the second trimester. Here we go!

🤰 More from The 411:
What to Expect at Your 7 Week Ultrasound
First Trimester Ultrasound: What to Expect
16 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 20 Week Ultrasound
30 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
36 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
How Many Ultrasounds During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy Must-Haves: Top 10 Pregnancy Products by Peanut

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