It’s time to clap your eyes on that baby for the first time and it’s the most exciting pregnancy milestone yet. So just what does happen at the 12-week scan?
Can you only have your 12-week scan at 12 weeks?
Your 12-week scan can take place any time between 11 and 13 weeks. It’s amazing to think that at this point, your baby is fully formed. So you can see all his organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place, and the sex organs are well developed too.
Will I find out the gender of my baby at 12 weeks?
The 12-week scan is usually just about determining whether your baby is healthy and growing as it should be. Although the sex organs are well developed, it's usually too soon to see them at 12 weeks. Some people believe in nub theory, which suggests you can determine the gender of your baby from that first ultrasound photo.
Getting ready for your 12-week scan
First things first, keep those nerves in check. We know how exciting/terrifying the whole thing is, but too much anxiety and you’ll be jumping off the bed as soon as the gel touches your belly (it’s very cold).
In order to create a clear view of your baby, it’s worth drinking a pint of water an hour before the scan.
‘This pushes the uterus into a better position so we can see the baby more easily,’ says Dean Meredith who is a Sonographer at The Portland Hospital, London. But don’t overdo it – we all know how often you need to pee these days.
Where do you go for your 12-week scan?
You will get a hospital appointment with a sonographer for your scan.
How long will the scan take?
12-week scans normally take between 15 and 30 minutes.
But it might take longer if your baby is lying in an awkward position.
It’s a good idea to have someone with you for the scan, whether it’s your partner, mum, or a friend.
What happens during the 12-week scan?
- The sonographer will put some gel on your tummy, and will move a hand-held transducer device over your skin. The gel makes sure there is good contact between your skin and the device. The sonographer will tuck tissue paper around you to protect your clothing from the gel.
- A black and white image of your baby will appear on the ultrasound screen, which the sonographer will position so they get a good view.
- You will feel some pressure, but it shouldn’t be painful.
- You might be offered a vaginal scan instead, if your womb is sitting very deep in your pelvis, or if you are overweight. This type of scan will allow the sonographer to get closer to your baby.
What is the sonographer looking for at 12 weeks?
The 12-week scan is the first in-depth look at your growing baby and assesses the early development in the womb.
‘The first thing we do is look and listen for the heartbeat. The CRL is measured to check the date of the pregnancy and make sure it is in the 45 to 84mm range,’ explains Dean. ‘We then look at the anatomy of the baby as far as possible at this early stage. This includes the skull, the brain, that there are two arms, two legs, the heart, stomach, bowel, pelvis and bladder.’
The 12-week scan is the first in-depth look at your growing baby and assesses the early development in the womb
‘Current guidelines for the 12-week scan is undertaken alongside the Nuchal scan or Down’s screening,’ says Dean. The 12-week scan will also check the location of your placenta to ensure placenta praevia is not a concern.
What happens if a problem is found at the 12-week scan?
The 12-week scan is the first opportunity for your baby to be examined for any abnormalities that could indicate a problem with his development. If a problem is spotted you’ll be to referred to a fetal medicine consultant for confirmation of the findings with a view to undergo further testing and recommendations for the remainder of the pregnancy.
There’s no evidence to suggest scans offer any risk to your pregnancy and offer you those first precious glimpses of your unborn baby and give you the peace of mind that your baby’s development is as it should be.
When will you have another scan?
After your 12-week scan, your next ultrasound probably won't be until you're 20 weeks' pregnant when you have your anomaly scan. This can also be a chance to find out if you're having a boy or girl if you want.
Read next: The pregnancy myths that hint at your baby's gender:
It might be too soon to see on the scan, but take a look at these pregnancy myths that hint at your little one's gender -
Low heartbeatIf your baby’s heartbeat is lower than 140 beats per minute, you could be having a little boy.
You’re moodier than normalFeeling grumpy and down in the dumps? It could mean you’re pregnant with a girl.
Sleeping on your left sideDo you keep finding you wake up on your left side? It’s another sign you’re having a boy.
Your skin is softBeing pregnant with a girl could mean you’ve finally got that baby soft skin you’ve always wanted.
You’re carrying lowIf someone tells you you’re ‘carrying low’, it means your bump is lower and your baby lying closer to the pelvis – a sign that some believe suggests your baby’s a boy…
Glossier hairGot luxurious locks and all-round a better mane than you’ve ever had in your life? It could be a sign that you’ll have a son.
Thin hairHair lacking in volume? Apparently, it’s an indication that you’re pregnant with a daughter.
Hairier legsFound yourself reaching for the razor more frequently? It could mean you need to start thinking of some baby boy's names.
Frequent headachesSome believe that suffering from more headaches during pregnancy than normal is a sign that you’re expecting a boy.
Carrying weight in your hips and rearSuddenly found yourself with a more pronounced derrière? And more rounded hips? It might mean you need to paint the nursery pink.
You’ve got cold feetA strange one, but having chilly feet could indicate that you’re pregnant with a son. We’re not quite sure why…
No pregnancy ‘glow’While everyone’s talked about that ah-mazing pregnancy glow you’re bound to experience, you still haven’t come across it. Which could signal that you’re having a baby girl.
You crave salty foodsHankering after cheese, crisps and really salty meats is another signal that you’re carrying a boy.
You crave sweet thingsIf you’re eating even more sugary treats than usual then you could have a girl. We reckon it’s a good excuse to indulge a little during your pregnancy.
Your partner has put on weight during your pregnancyThis has to be the strangest of the lot. We reckon your partner packing on the pounds just means that he’s been having one too many sweet treats – but some think it could mean a baby boy is on the way.
If you ate a high calorie diet before you got pregnantIf you had a low-calorie diet and you didn’t have much of an appetite, you’re having a girl.
Holding a ring on a piece of string over your belly and it moves in a circleTie a ring you wear every day to a length of cotton thread and hold it above your bump - moving in a circle means you’re having a girl, while swinging side to side means you’re having a boy. However, there’s some debate over which action signifies which gender. If you live in America, you’re more likely to believe the opposite!
If you conceived in winterIf you fell pregnant in the summer, you’re having a baby girl. If you conceive in spring or autumn, there’s an equal chance of having a boy or girl.
If someone asks you to hold your hands out in front of you, and you hold them palms facing upIf you hold them out palms facing downwards, you’re having a boy.
If you pick up a key and hold it by its round upper section, you’re having a boyIf you pick the key up by its thinner lower section, it’s a girl.
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