Even if you don’t plan to find out baby’s sex, the anatomy ultrasound that occurs near the midway point of pregnancy is a big deal.
For you, it may very well be the last time you’ll get to see the little one dance it up on the screen. ?
For the ultrasound technician (and the doctor who reviews the scanned images), it’s a chance to study how baby is developing to make sure everything is on track — which can be nerve wracking for you.
We know this may be easier said than done, but to keep that anxiety in check ahead of time it could help to understand what the technician will be looking for and to plan what questions you’ll ask.
The mid-pregnancy ultrasound is used to carefully check the baby’s anatomy for problems, see if the placenta is in the proper place, determine the amount of amniotic fluid and even screen for birth defects such as Down syndrome.
Some ultrasound technicians or doctors will talk you through every step while others may keep quiet during the scan.
If you have one of the latter variety, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are a few to get you started...
How’s that little heart? ?
According to the March of Dimes, nearly one perfect of infants are born with some type of heart defect.
The good news is that these conditions can often be detected during the anomaly scan, which can help you and your doctors adequately prepare for treatment.
Boston’s Children’s Hospital recommends asking a few heart-specific questions during the ultrasound.
Those include whether there are four chambers, whether the valves are in the proper places, if the vessels cross where they exit, if the wall between the lower chambers is intact and if everything else appears normal.
What does her brain look like?:
The big brain defect the ultrasound technician will be looking for is anencephaly, which means part of the brain or skull isn’t present and is almost always fatal shortly after birth.
Also ask if there appear to be any cysts. Even if there are, it isn’t a huge cause for concern—these happen with an estimated one-in-50 healthy babies and often disappear before birth.
However, in less than one percent of the cases where a certain kind of cyst is present, the baby also has trisomy 18 or three copies of chromosome 18.
For that reason, if a cyst is detected, your doctor may recommend further tests.
Can I see baby’s sweet little face?:
The ultrasound technician should see if baby appears to have a cleft lip, which is one of the most common birth defects.
Just ask to make sure this is checked out because determining if there is a cleft lip in advance will give you time to get in touch with specialists who can help after birth.
What’s inside baby’s abdomen?:
With so many major organs, there is a bunch the tech will be looking at during this part of the test.
For starters, you can ask if two kidneys are visible, if the bladder appears to be working properly and if the stomach, liver and abdominal wall are all in place.
On the back side, the technician will check the spine to make sure it’s covered by skin and the vertebrae are aligned.
Can we see that chest?:
A little bit higher up, the tech should take a good look at baby’s diaphragm and lungs.
Most congenital lung defects can be diagnosed at this time, so it’s important to make sure the technician is taking a good look at the lung tissues, whether there are any masses and if everything seems to be forming properly.