When you are finally up to 12 weeks in your pregnancy, you can have an accurate ultrasound performed, and see your new little one at last. This is a major milestone in a pregnancy. You can have the ultrasound between 11 & 13 weeks – it doesn’t have to be done at exactly 12 weeks.
Right now, all of your baby’s muscles, bones, organs and limbs will already be formed. You may wonder how an ultrasound is performed, if you’ve never had one before. Continue reading to learn more about the ultrasound procedure.
What Happens at your 12 Week Ultrasound?
During this scan, the technician will use a transducer, a simple hand-held device that emits sound waves through your abdomen. When these waves contact solid tissue, the images appear on the screen, so that the sonographer can interpret them.
Drink plenty of water before you go in for your ultrasound. This lifts the uterus and allows a clearer image to be seen. During the scan, the technician will squeeze cold gel on your abdominal area and slide that transducer gently over the area.
When the scan is done at about 12 weeks, you will be able to see your fetus’ nose, eye sockets and forehead. Your baby already has the very definite appearance of a human.
Your sonographer will discuss the scan with you during the ultrasound. He may show you his screen, or there may be a separate screen for you to view. Feel free to ask the sonographer any questions about what he is examining during the scan.
If the sonographer has uncertainties, a colleague may also examine your ultrasound. Don’t become worried if this occurs. It doesn’t mean there is necessarily something wrong – he may just be clarifying something on the scan.
HERE is a link to a short video of one routine 12 week pregnant ultrasound, so you will know what you’re looking for when you’re viewing the scan.
How Is the Baby Developing Now, at about 12 Weeks?
At this stage, your little one will still be quite small, only about 2.25 inches in length. However, he will appear fully formed, and all the organs will be in their proper places. After that, your baby’s job is to grow, and to practice breathing and suckling movements. The gender is not usually obvious at the 12 week ultrasound.
Your baby’s organs are also rapidly developing at 12 weeks gestation. The intestines, are regressing now, into the abdominal area and his kidneys are beginning to excrete some urine into his bladder.
Your baby’s skeleton at 12 weeks is still formed from basic cartilage, which will harden gradually into true bone during the following weeks. Newborns have a skeleton that includes 300+ pieces of cartilage and bone, but they will fuse as he grows, to become stronger and larger. The adult body has 206 bones.
The 12th week is usually the time your baby will begin practicing his reflexes, like sucking with his mouth and clenching the muscles in his eyes. He will also be bending his toes and fingers. If you press on your belly, he will squirm, but you won’t yet be able to feel his movements.
Even though you can’t feel them, your little one will be making more movements at 12 weeks than he did prior to this time. He will move his elbows and wrists. His eyelids will still be fused closed, but they are closer to the front of his head, in their final position.
Why should you have a 12 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound?
12 weeks is the very first opportunity to have a sonographer assess your baby, to ensure that there are not any problems in his development. If the ultrasound technician finds any issues, a specialist like a fetal consultant will confirm those findings and then let you know how the pregnancy should proceed. A 12 week ultrasound will allow you to make the choice whether you wish to continue your pregnancy if there are serious complications. You will take clinical recommendations into account, and consider the personal, religious and ethical beliefs you adhere to.
Other Valid Reasons for a 12 week Pregnant Ultrasound:
- To see if you are carrying more than one baby
- To confirm your date of pregnancy, which helps in estimating the baby’s date due
- To perform risk assessments for Downs syndrome – To do this, the sonographer will measure the fluid amount at the base of the fetus’ neck. The waves of the ultrasound will return measurements of areas free from echoes, meaning that the space is translucent.
- To make an assessment of the overall fetal development – The skull will be measured and compared to other babies at similar times of gestation.
- To check the size of the fetus and its development in the placenta
- To detect the fetal heartbeat – It should be easily heard when you are 12 weeks into your pregnancy.
- To check for physical abnormalities
- To check for any other developmental issues, by checking your pelvic area, uterus and fallopian tubes
Do 12 week Ultrasounds have any Disadvantages?
If your ultrasound is performed by a well-trained sonographer, it is very safe for you and for your baby. Don’t worry if this scan shows minor issues – these usually resolve themselves.
Ultrasounds, like all tests, may show false positives or false negatives in their results. The Downs syndrome test, for example, has a false positive rate of 5%. This means that one out of 20 women who are not carrying a Downs syndrome-affected baby will still be told that the test was positive.
The choice to have a 12 week pregnant ultrasound is yours, and your sonographer will be supportive of your decisions.