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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lagrone

What to Expect at Your 20-Week Anatomy Scan or Ultrasound

couple holding ultrasound picture

The anatomy scan is like a gender reveal party but with a side of medical expertise and a dash of excitement. Besides the obvious discomfort of a full bladder, get ready for a full-on visual journey through your little one's rapidly growing body. It’s like watching a sneak preview of the most complex and adorable movie ever. You'll witness tiny fingers, toes, and even their tiny pumping heart. Talk about worth the price of admission!

This scan also plays detective, looking for any potential plot twists that may have snuck their way into your baby's script. From checking for cleft palates to counting all the cute little ribs, the technicians will leave no unturned ultrasound stone. Are you ready? It will be a bumpy, exhilarating, and potentially life-changing ride!

What is the 20-week Anatomy Scan?

Ah, the famous 20-week anatomy scan appointment! It's like taking your unborn baby for a full-body X-ray session during the halfway point of pregnancy. This is the moment when the sonographer will be able to measure the length of little arms and legs, count the number of fingers and toes (phew, a relief if they stop at ten), and even take a peek at the precious heart and other major organs. It's like going to a high-definition cinema screening.

But wait, there's more! The 20-week anatomy scan is not only a chance for you to ooh and aah at those cute little body parts but also an opportunity for the doctor to investigate more serious stuff like any potential abnormalities your baby may have.

How to Prepare for the 20-week Ultrasound

The 20-week ultrasound involves much more than a typical prenatal appointment, so you might wonder how to prepare ahead of it. While it's not necessary to dress to the nines for this event, feel free to show off your fashion flair with a stylish pair of socks. But seriously, mentally preparing yourself to see your little bundle of joy in all their glory is a big part of preparing. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is just a blurry version of what's to come. But hey, the suspense is half the fun, right?

Don't forget to arrive with a full bladder, which helps the ultrasound images look clearer and more detailed. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to witness the utter marvel of modern technology as you catch a glimpse of your future mini-me.

What Does the 20-week Ultrasound Look For?

What exactly does this magical scan look for? First and foremost, it's on the hunt for any potential abnormalities in the baby's anatomy. Are all the adorable little fingers and toes accounted for? Is the heart pumping away like a well-oiled machine? These are the questions this ultrasound aims to answer. But don't worry, it's not all seriousness and medical jargon.

The 20-week ultrasound is also the perfect opportunity to get a sneak peek at the baby's gender if you are ready to discover what you're having. Are you team pink or team blue? Well, this scan might just spill the beans. So sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for a visual feast of undeniable cuteness.

What Happens at the 20-week Scan?

At the 20-week scan, also known as the "anomaly" or "anatomy" scan, they really take a close look at baby's development. So, are you curious about what actually happens during the scan? Here's your step-by-step outlook:

  • You'll change into one of those gown things and hop onto the exam table.

  • The ultrasound tech starts by slathering some goo on your abdomen.

  • They kick things off by measuring the baby's size and ensuring they're chilling in the right spot.

  • The tech gets super thorough, checking out all the baby's organs, like baby's heart, brain, and spine, to make sure everything's growing as it should.

  • They even scope out the baby's face, arms, legs, and kidneys. You'll be able to see all these cool things!

  • Want to know if you're having a boy or a girl? You might be able to find out the sex of your baby!

This scan is like a front-row ticket for parents to get a really good look at their soon-to-arrive little one. The tech might chat you through what they're seeing and point out all the cool baby parts during the scan. To top it off, they often print sweet keepsake pics of the baby.

Afterward, the tech wraps things up, explains what they found, and answers any questions you've got—within reason. Ultrasound techs often cannot explain everything to parents, and instead, they leave that to the doctor. Overall, it's a pretty awesome experience for parents-to-be!

Can I Find Out the Sex of My Baby?

Brace yourself for the news, my friend, because the answer is a resounding...maybe. Yes, that's right, the elusive gender reveal is like a Vegas magic trick of the reproductive world. Sometimes, the ultrasound technician can take a peek and reveal all the secrets, while other times, they might as well be searching for the lost city of Atlantis. It's a bit like playing a game of baby roulette. Will it be a boy or a girl? Place your bets now!

So, don't be too disappointed if the ultrasound leaves you in suspense. Sometimes babies move too much or are in a position that doesn't show their sex organs. After all, life is full of surprises, and finding out baby's sex can be a thrilling anticipation game. Who needs instant gratification when you can have a little fun along the way?

What Abnormalities Can Be Identified?

Ultrasound scans can identify abnormalities or potential problems in three main categories: structural stuff, how things are operating, and even genetic twists. For the structural scoop, it can pick up hitches in the heart, brain, kidneys, arms, and more. Stuff like cleft lips, spina bifida (a back issue), and heart defects are some things it's on the lookout for.

Then there are the functional quirks; that's when things don't run smoothly in the organ department. It can spot problems like funky blood flow or organs that are too big or too small. Finally, the scan can reveal more details regarding genetics and can even give a heads-up about conditions like Down syndrome. Overall, the 20-week ultrasound appointment does detective work to help docs catch abnormalities early.

When Will I Receive the Results of the Scan?

Patience is the name of this waiting game. First, the sonographer has to carefully analyze all the fascinating images they captured of your baby's tiny features.

Then, they have to consult with the radiologist, who is probably sitting in some dark room with a lab coat on, cradling a cup of coffee and squinting at your file. And finally, the results will make their way back to your doctor, who will then give you a call, play the waiting game with you, and reveal the long-awaited news. So, sit tight; your ultrasound results are on their way.


These anatomy ultrasounds are typically performed between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy and are informative! If you are really jonesin' to find out if you're having a boy or girl, it's important to note that the sonographer may not be able to determine the sex of the baby if he or she is positioned in a way that makes it hard to get the best views.

If this happens, the ultrasound tech may ask you to turn to see your little one better. This may involve turning on one side or emptying the bladder to get better images of the baby. So, be aware that it's possible you won't find out baby's sex right away. Either way, you'll still have tiny portraits of your little one to take home!


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