The second routine scan that you’ll be offered during your pregnancy is at around 20 weeks gestation and is called the anomaly scan. This one will be quite different from the dating scan you had at around 12 weeks, because there are lots of important checks to be made. Some hospitals have a ‘no children present’ policy during this scan, simply because the sonagrapher needs to be able to concentrate on the task in hand. Here is a very quick guide to what to expect at your anomaly scan.
Be prepared for it to take a little longer than last time
During the anomaly scan, your sonographer will check:
- that baby is developing and growing at the normal rate
- the shape and structure of baby’s head
- baby’s face
- baby’s spine, to make sure that all bones are aligned and the skin covers the spine at the back
- baby’s abdominal wall
- the placenta, unbilical cord and amniotic fluid
- baby’s heart
- baby’s stomach
- baby’s kidneys
- baby’s arms, legs, hands and feet
Now that you can see the full list, you can see why most hospitals prefer that children are not present- your sonagrapher will need to concentrate hard to take all of the measurements accurately, and don’t be alarmed if he/ she doesn’t speak to you much either. Silence simply means that the measurements are being taken.
What else to expect
As there are a few measurements and checks to be made all over baby’s body, sometimes the position of baby can throw a spanner in the works. If baby is especially wriggly during the scan, you may be asked to go for a walk to lull baby to sleep so that proper checks can be made. You may also be asked if you want to find out the gender of your baby. Remember that this is not 100% accurate and whether you are carrying a boy or a girl is not the main point of the scan, so don’t be disappointed if your sonagrapher cannot tell you. Your sonagrapher will also check baby’s head circumference, abdomincal circumference and thigh bone to make sure they match up with your dates.
Picking up abnormalities
The anomaly scan is so important because it can be the first indication of any abnormalities during pregnancy. Your sonographer will have a list of conditions to look out for, some of which are serious, and some of which are not. Some abnormalities will not be detected until much later than the anomaly scan but try not to worry; the vast majority of anomaly scans rule out any conditions and babies are born healthy and well.
If an abnormality is detected
If an abnormality is detected, you will be told straight away. Most problems that require a repeat scan are not serious, with around 15% of scans being re-done with no serious outcome. If you are told that there is a specific problem, you will be booked in to see a specialist within 72 hours so that you can discuss everything in detail.
It’s normal to worry ahead of your scan, but its important to remember that the vast majority of pregnancies are problem free and result in healthy babies. Speak to your midwife about any fears that you may have and talk to your partner too. Nothing that you worry about is insignificant or silly, so don’t be afraid to voice your fears. Having a baby is a highly emotional time and for mums-to-be there can be a lot of pressure felt around the anomaly scan.
Don’t forget change for the scan photo- you’ll want a momento of your growing baby! And don’t forget to drink plenty of water too- but not too much!