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16 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect

last year5 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Congratulations on the sweet 16 of your pregnancy! You’re at the beginning of the fourth month and into the second trimester—and likely very curious about what on earth is going on inside you.

16 Week Ultrasound

While 16 week ultrasounds aren’t routine, there are reasons why you might have one at this time. So what will a 16 week ultrasound reveal about the mysterious inner workings of your pregnant belly? Let’s take a look.

16 weeks pregnant ultrasound

An ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of what is brewing inside you. It’s a safe and effective way to monitor your pregnancy, see how your baby is growing and developing, and check for any health complications.

Unless your doctor would like to monitor you more closely, you will usually have just two routine ultrasounds during your pregnancy—one between six and 14 weeks, and another between 18 and 20 weeks.

  • The first ultrasound is often called the dating ultrasound. That’s because your due date can be predicted quite accurately at this appointment based on the size of the fetus. And there’s all sorts of other important info that it will give you too, like how that growing peanut is moving and breathing, and how their heart is beating. It can also tell you the location of the placenta and how much amniotic fluid you have in your uterus.

  • The second ultrasound is known as an anatomy scan, where they will take measurements of your baby and see how their growth and development is going. A 16 week anatomy scan is possible—but a little early. Your doctor may suggest that you hold out for about two more weeks.
    While a 16 week ultrasound doesn’t fall into the exact windows of the two routine appointments, there are several reasons why your doctor might recommend one.

Some possibilities are:

  • You missed your earlier ultrasound. It’s not too late to get that due date and check on the progress of your baby.

  • You have experienced health challenges. If you have a health condition that needs to be monitored and/or have experienced any unusual pregnancy symptoms like unexplained bleeding, your doctor may want to do an additional scan.

  • Your doctor wants to monitor your growing baby closely. Your doctor might want additional ultrasounds if they suspect any potential complications, such as heart abnormalities, Down syndrome, or a neural tube defect like spina bifida. Your doctor might also do additional blood tests if they’re worried about anything that shows up on the scan.

  • Multiples are suspected. If an earlier scan has detected that there’s more than one baby in there, an additional scan will help confirm this.

What can I expect at my 16 week scan?

You will either have a transvaginal scan, where a special tool called a transducer is inserted into your vagina, or a transabdominal scan where a transducer travels over your belly.

Both will give you access to an image of your baby, the placenta, and your uterus.

Hot tip? Have something to drink before you go for your scan. A bladder that’s on the fuller side can help position your uterus for optimal viewing.

What does a 16 week ultrasound look like?

Here’s some of what you might expect to uncover:

  • You may be in for a rather moving experience—quite literally. After about 16 weeks in the womb, your baby might be ready to move around a bit. And if they’re laying low, don’t worry. There’s still time for them to get up and running.

  • They’re looking human! That little fish is starting to look more like a person. There are legs, arms, fingers and toes now. And while their eyelids are still closed, those eyes might be moving around behind them.

  • Look at them grow. At this point, your baby will be about 4.7 inches long and weigh about 3.5 oz. Think avocado size.

Can you tell gender at 16 weeks?

The 18-20 week anatomy scan is the one where you usually find out your baby’s biological sex. But it’s possible you could also see it at a 16 week ultrasound.

How accurate is a gender sonogram at 16 weeks? In this study, results were 100% accurate when made after 14 weeks, and about 75% if done between the 11th and 14th week.

Bottom line? While not everyone will have a scan at 16 weeks, there are reasons why you might. No two pregnancies are alike, nor are the people having them.

One thing we all have in common though? The need for support through this. Join us on Peanut.

💡 More from The 411:
First Trimester Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 7 Week Ultrasound
8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
12 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 20 Week Ultrasound
30 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
36 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound: What You Need to Know
All You Need to Know About the 3D Ultrasound

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