Your 20 Week Ultrasound: Here's What to Know

Your 20 week ultrasound often gives you a detailed look at exactly how your baby is developing and thriving - and allows you to see just how much he or she has grown in the first half of pregnancy! Here's some tips to help you prepare for this exciting prenatal milestone.

Congratulations, Mama! Your 20 Week Ultrasound is Exciting for Many Reasons

The famed 20-week ultrasound is here – the one that most parents look forward to through the whole first half of their pregnancy and gives you a detailed look at exactly how your baby is growing, developing, and thriving. In many cases, the last time you caught a peek of your baby was during your original pregnancy confirmation appointment. Because that first appointment may seem like forever ago now, you’re probably beside yourself with excitement to finally catch a glimpse of the baby filling out that growing bump and getting to see how much he or she has grown.

For many parents-to-be, this is also the ultrasound where the gender of your little one is usually confirmed. Even if you were made aware of your baby’s gender before your 20-week ultrasound – oftentimes, early DNA and blood tests that may be required by your healthcare provider will reveal this information – it is still an incredible feeling to see your baby in real-time. Though certain aspects of pregnancy can be challenging or even stressful, your 20-week ultrasound is one of those once-in-a-lifetime, celebratory parenthood events to thoroughly enjoy! Know that some healthcare facilities and imaging centers have limits on the number of guests that can be with you during your 20-week ultrasound and/or how many people are allowed in waiting areas. Be sure to plan who you’d like to have with you during this time and make sure beforehand that the facility can accommodate your support people.

What to Expect at Your 20-Week Ultrasound Appointment

Because your ultrasound technician will need to take several detailed pictures of your baby, most parents-to-be can expect their 20-week ultrasound appointment to take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. This range can vary, depending on your unique situation and how long you may be waiting to be called back, but plan to block out at least 2 hours for your appointment to be safe. Here’s a few other key tips to help you prepare for this exciting appointment:

  • In many cases, you’ll be asked to drink several ounces of water prior to your appointment. Having the technician lightly press on your abdomen and upper pelvis with the ultrasound wand – while you have a full bladder – can be slightly uncomfortable, but be sure to let them know right away if anything hurts or the urge to use the restroom becomes unbearable. Having a full bladder when getting your 20-week ultrasound helps your technician get the best possible images.
  • Some parents-to-be swear by the idea of drinking a glass of orange juice, munching on some fresh fruit, or having a sugary snack in the hour or so before their 20-week ultrasound appointment, with the concept being that the temporary sugar infusion in the bloodstream will make your little one move around and be more active during the ultrasound. Often, however, there isn’t a need to give yourself or your baby an unnecessary extra sugar rush – If he or she is shy during the ultrasound, your technician will ask you to occasionally change positions during the appointment if they need a little help getting images!
  • This scan will inspect your baby’s full anatomy, including their arms, legs, spine, head, heart, and more – and you’ll be able to take home plenty of images for your scrapbook or baby book! The technician will be looking for any abnormalities that can indicate any development issues or physical or genetic disorders. Though this can be nerve-wracking, if you’ve had earlier prenatal screening and/or genetic testing completed, then this will have likely already provided important information about your growing baby. Your technician can usually answer basic questions you may have about the imagery – but more detailed questions or concerns should be saved to discuss with your doctor or healthcare provider as they will have the knowledge about your pregnancy and prenatal expertise necessary to have those conversations. Besides, your sonographer is typically not allowed to share details of what they find (aside from your baby’s gender). Be patient and know that any findings will be discussed with you at your follow-up doctor appointment.
  • This ultrasound is usually known as the big, exciting “gender reveal”! Commemorate the occasion by recording and taking video clips during the appointment, or asking your partner or support person to take some photos throughout the ultrasound (if allowed). Though you’ll certainly receive some image print-outs during the ultrasound to take home and show off, finding out how you can mark the occasion through your own photos or video can help keep the memory fresh and give you plenty to look back on for years to come.

    Also, if you’re planning to host a gender reveal party and want to be surprised, ask your sonographer to write down the gender and place it in an envelope for you (alongside any ultrasound images that may unintentionally spill the beans if your growing baby is a boy or girl!)

Get ready, mama! Not only are you just about halfway through pregnancy, but now you get to officially “meet” your baby through ultrasound. Enjoy this time, soak in every second, and look forward to saying hello to your new little girl or baby boy. We bet that he or she can’t wait to meet you either!