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Second Trimester

19 weeks pregnant | Pregnancy week 19

This week I had my anomaly scan. This is done using ultrasound around the 19 week stage to look for any structural abnormalities of the baby, this is also the opportunity to learn your baby’s sex (if you want to)!

The ultrasound scan requires you to have a full bladder, which I find in this pregnancy is no problem at all. It’s just holding it in that’s the problem.

Anyway it happened again, we did the 15 minute drive from our son’s nursery to the hospital and I was busting, so again I had to rush in, go to the toilet and then refill my bladder. As per usual I literally had ten minutes to fill my bladder before the scan so I just drank tonnes of water and a big cup of tea.

 - 19 weeks pregnant | Pregnancy week 19
19 weeks into pregnancy ©Hemera

As we sat in the waiting room, my Sonographer husband teased ‘You’re going to be the naughty patient who hasn’t got the full bladder.’ Some kind of weird Sonographer humor I guess, as I wasn’t laughing.

We were called in and when the Sonographer put the probe on my abdomen, my husband started giggling because even I could tell that it was a very, very full bladder.

Anomaly scan

The ultrasound scan looks at several parts of the baby. I’m going to try and describe not only the parts of the baby being assessed but also what they are looking for.

My first tip is not to worry if your Sonographer goes quiet, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong - they’re probably concentrating as there are a lot of small structures that need to be identified and assessed.

The Sonographer takes the following measurementswhich are plotted on an antenatal growth chart. These include: the circumference of the head and abdomen, and the femur length.

These measurements check if the baby is too small or too big, but there is a lot of debate on what a ‘normal’ size baby actually is.

The Sonographer then visualizes the baby’s arms and legs. They count bones in each (e.g. humerus, radius and ulna, femur and tibia and fibula) and checks that there are hands and feet, but they don’t count fingers or toes as they are too tiny to see.

The Sonographer does an assessment of the baby’s head which confirms the skull bones, visualization of the internal structures of the brain and then depending on department protocol they may even visualize the facial profile and ears.

The image of the face is a little scary as the eyes looks like two empty black holes, but that just the way ultrasound views the ‘orbits.’ Our picture is very sweet of baby’s face as you can see two little hands just coming across the face in a kind of peek-a-boo fashion!

Scan time © iStockphoto


They then look at the spine, this looks like a little railway track on the image. They check the spine alignment (which includes the neck down to base of spine), skin covering of the spine and that there is no obvious defect such as spina bifida, which is where there is failure of the lower portions of the spine to fuse.

The chest of the baby is then assessed and this is where you will see baby’s heart. The Sonographer checks the four chambers of the heart, the outflow tracts, which are the great vessels, and show the passage of blood from the placenta. This is where the Sonographer will sometimes put a color over the vessels to look at output, known as ‘Doppler.’

The chest is also assessed to look at lung fields making sure there are no fluid collections or cystic spaces. There is also an assessment of baby’s diaphragm, making sure there is a divide between abdominal and chest cavities.

Then the final assessment looks at the integrity of abdominal wall, the appearance of the kidneys, the stomach, the bowel and bladder. The stomach is a very little black hole which shows baby is drinking and the another black hole shows the bladder is full and therefore the kidneys are working as they are allowing filtration into the bladder.

Baby boy or baby girl?

My second tip for expectant mums during this 19-20 week scan is, if you don’t want to know the sex of your baby, make sure you tell the Sonographer right at the beginning but also look away from the screen when the abdomen is being assessed, as some baby’s wriggle away and are desperate to show what they are, and as the Sonographer is looking in that area a flash could occur.

When our first baby was being scanned, I was convinced he was a girl and I kid you not every time the Sonographer placed that probe on my abdomen, our boy flashed his bits just to make sure we knew he was definitely a boy!

So as you can see, in a 25 minute appointment there is a lot to be assessed and in great detail. Us mothers come in all shapes and sizes and our baby’s wriggle and jump around a lot in there, so be patient and don’t panic if the Sonographer goes quiet, there is a lot to do in a relatively small amount of time.

Baby boy or baby girl © Hemera

Also the Sonographer will not scan in a specific order, it really depends on the baby and what they are willing to show. This sometimes means you have to empty your bladder, or walk around, sometimes eat just to get baby to move or to stay still!
The Sonographer also assesses where the placenta is and that it is clear of the birth canal.

So the big question is - did we want to know the sex of our baby. The answer is yes as we have one boy and I like to be organized so if it’s another boy, we will need to go up in the loft to get clothes down and if it’s a girl - bring on the pink shopping spree!

So before I spill the beans, let me tell you a conversation my husband had with my brother’s girlfriend a few days before the scan. She asked whether we were going to find out the sex of the baby, and Mark answered yes. Now my brother, my sister and I are convinced this baby is a girl.

My brother’s girlfriend and Mark think it’s a boy. Her reasoning - “No baby of Marks could be a girl as he is soooo manly.” Not only did this put a smile on his face for days, but she was right!

This baby is a boy.

We are so pleased but my husband now has a few ideas in mind. He’s thinking we can start a football or a rugby team (that’s a lot more babies!), or I’m chucked out of the house and they turn the house into a fraternity like in those movies ‘Animal House,’ Schools Out’ or the very funny comedy series ‘Glory Daze.’

As for me, I know who queen bee in this house is and my boys will know it too!

Anyway I’m off for a baby shopping spree- boy or girl - who needs an excuse really?!


Read more of Roanna's week by week pregnancy blog! 

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Parenting Editor
29/06/2011
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