Pregnancy

What to Expect at Your 20 Week Ultrasound

Team Peanut
Team Peanut7 months ago5 min read

So, you’re halfway through your pregnancy! And it’s about time to have your 20 week ultrasound scan.

 20 Week Ultrasound

This scan (also called the 20 week anatomy scan) is a chance for your medical team to check on your baby’s physical development.

You’ll generally be offered the scan between weeks 18 and 22 of your pregnancy.

It’s an exciting time, as there’s a good chance you haven’t seen your baby since your dating ultrasound in the first trimester.

But it’s also understandable if you’re a little nervous.

Try to relax, mama, and let’s take a look at what to expect at your 20 week ultrasound.

In this article: 📝

  • How to prepare for my 20 week ultrasound?
  • What can I expect at my 20 week ultrasound?
  • What abnormalities can be detected at a 20 week scan?
  • Can I find out the sex of my baby at 20 weeks?
  • Can I get a 20 week ultrasound in 4D or 3D?

How to prepare for my 20 week ultrasound?

First, make sure you allow plenty of time for the ultrasound appointment.











It could take as little as 30 minutes—but it might take up to an hour if your baby is feeling camera-shy and they’re not in the right position for the technician to get a good view.

Often, you’re allowed to bring along your partner or a friend to support you during the scan.

But different clinics have different rules, so just check before you go.

And you may also be wondering:

Do I need a full bladder for my 20 week ultrasound?

It’s possible, but ask your healthcare provider in advance to avoid needless discomfort!

If you’re having a transabdominal ultrasound (where the ultrasound wand goes over your belly) followed by a transvaginal ultrasound (where it goes inside your vagina), you might need a full bladder for the first scan.

But then you’ll get a bathroom break before the second one.

What can I expect at my 20 week ultrasound?

It’ll probably go something like this:

  1. You’ll lie on a couch, the ultrasound technician will cover your belly with gel, and then they’ll move an ultrasound wand (transducer) over your skin.
  2. Looking at your baby’s image on the ultrasound screen, the technician will check and measure different parts of your baby’s body, including their arms, legs, feet, and hands; their spine and brain; and their heart and kidneys.
  3. The technician will also check the umbilical cord and placenta, and they’ll make sure your little one has plenty of amniotic fluid to swim in.
  4. They might then change to a transvaginal ultrasound wand to have a close look at your cervix. It’s essential that this is still high and closed, or there could be a risk of premature labor.
  5. While all this is going on, you might find that the technician doesn’t say much to explain what they’re doing. This is partly because they need to concentrate, but it also might be against the clinic’s rules for them to tell you their findings. You might need to wait for your doctor to give you the results after the scan.

If your baby isn’t in an ideal position for the technician to see them, they might try various techniques to encourage your little one to move.

That could include prodding your belly (gently!) with the ultrasound wand and getting you to walk around for a minute.

What abnormalities can be detected at a 20 week scan?

As they’re checking your baby’s body, the technician will also be looking for signs of certain medical conditions:

  • Genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18
  • Organ abnormalities: for example, congenital heart defects and anencephaly (a problem with the baby’s brain and spinal cord)
  • Cleft lip

It’s understandable to feel anxious about this—of course, you just want your baby to be happy and healthy.

But spotting any issues early will allow your medical team to give you and your baby the best care going forward.

Can I find out the sex of my baby at 20 weeks?

Usually, yes! If you want to, and if your baby is in the right position.

The technician should be able to see the baby’s genitals and make the call with reasonable accuracy.

But, then again, it’s always possible that they could get it wrong and you’ll have a surprise at the birth. (So maybe go easy on the pink/blue paint in the nursery.)

Can I get a 20 week ultrasound in 4D or 3D?

One of the most exciting things about the 20 week ultrasound is being able to walk away with a picture of your baby.

But bear in mind that a standard 2D ultrasound scan may not give you a very detailed image.

It is possible to get a 20 week ultrasound in 3D or 4D, but that involves special equipment that not every clinic will have.

Ask your medical team what equipment they’ll be using for your scan.

But whether that image is grainy or high-definition, it’s still a precious memento of your pregnancy. ❤️

💡 More from The 411:
8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
16 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
30 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
What is a 4D Ultrasound?
Your Pregnancy Week By Week Guide
Your Cervix in Early Pregnancy
What to Do About Early Pregnancy Headaches
How Many Ultrasounds During Pregnancy?
What Do Your Breasts Look Like in Early Pregnancy?

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