12 Week Ultrasound Scan

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on July 12, 2017
The first trimester, or the first 12 weeks, of a pregnancy could be the most daunting episode for a woman carrying a baby in her womb and awaiting its birth. This period of her pregnancy is the most critical, where the risk of miscarriage, or the loss of the unborn child, is very real and at its peak. Sometime during this period, your doctor is likely to recommend an ultrasound scan. This is a screening procedure using sound waves to produce an image of the baby in the womb. The image of the baby from the scan enables the doctor to determine its state of health. 

12 Week Ultrasound Scan

The first trimester, or the first 12 weeks, of a pregnancy could be the most daunting episode for a woman carrying a baby in her womb and awaiting its birth. This period of her pregnancy is the most critical, where the risk of miscarriage, or the loss of the unborn child, is very real and at its peak. The end of this first trimester of pregnancy, on the other hand, means that you and your baby have overcome this challenging period, and you can share what you may have kept as your “secret”, to relatives and friends.


What is an ultrasound scan?

Sometime during this period, your doctor is likely to recommend an ultrasound scan. This is a screening procedure using sound waves to produce an image of the baby in the womb. The image of the baby from the scan enables the doctor to determine its state of health. An ultrasound scan is generally a happy occasion for the baby’s mother and her loved ones. It is the first time the mother sees her child’s face and body in a picture, and she most likely would readily show it off to her partner and immediate family with fondness and anticipation.

Good and bad

The doctor gets vital information from ultrasound results, both good and bad. He or she willlook for possible pathological or chromosomal abnormalities in the child. An example of a chromosomal abnormality is Down syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by delays in physical growth, distinctive facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. This is why some couples do not wish to pursue this process for fear of such an eventuality. However, doctors strongly recommend the scan to correct some abnormalities that can still be rectified through early detection. The 12-week scan enables the doctor to take a closer look at the anatomy of your growing baby, to check the condition of his or her head, brain, heart, arms, legs, and other vital parts and assess how they are developing.

Simple and painless

The procedure is simple and painless. A medical technician called a “sonographer” will apply some gel on your stomach and will move a transducer device, similar to a handheld scanner, over your abdomen. The purpose of the gel is to ensure a good contact between the skin and the device. With the device in place, the doctor can listen to your baby’s heartbeat and take a close look at a black and white image of the baby in your womb, as it appears on the ultrasound screen. If you are overweight, or if your womb is perched too deep in your pelvis, a vaginal scan could be another option. This allows the sonographer to get a closer and better angle to your baby.  

Importance of ultrasound scan

On the 12th week of your pregnancy, the baby in your womb is about 1.7 inches in length and 0.28 ounces in weight, which is about the size of a regular lemon fruit. The fetus already has the shape of a little person, although the size of its head is still noticeably larger than its body. While it is ultimately up to the mother to decide whether to undergo a 12th week ultrasound or not, doctors cite the following reasons why they should undergo one:

-To check if baby is developing as it should;

- To see if baby has normal heartbeat;

- To confirm pregnancy dates and estimate date of delivery;

- To check and confirm the presence of more than one fetus;

- To measure the size of the fetus and placenta;

- To make risk assessment for Down Syndrome and other physical abnormalities; and

- To assess condition of mother’s uterus, fallopian tubes, and pelvic region for possible complications.

The reality of raising a child in this world is not dictated by what you want, or wish to have for the fragile little one. It is dictated by available circumstances, like the condition of the child in your womb. The ultrasound scan is a gift of medical science that helps you to take a look at the state of physical and mental health of the child in your womb. This will help you decide the best course of action to take for your baby.

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