7 Things i learned at my 20-week ultrasound babycenter blog electricity synonyms

The 20-week ultrasound is usually a very important one. Here’s my very basic, unscientific explanation of what happens: The ultrasound tech slathers gel onto your tummy and scans the baby in your belly, projecting images onto a screen. The tech types in all kinds of fancy medical terminology while clicking away and measuring the body parts of the tiny person inside of you.

When I scheduled my appointment over the phone, the nurse made sure to tell me that I needed to drink 32 ounces of water an hour before coming in. When the doctor’s office called to confirm my appointment, they reiterated the fact that I needed to have a full bladder. When I checked in for the actual appointment, the receptionist behind the desk asked if I had finished my water. Finally, when I saw the ultrasound tech, she asked if I had a full bladder. Due to the repetition of the questions, I assume having a full bladder is pretty important.

Since I actually followed orders this time, my bladder was full. It really hurt when she pressed on my tummy. Halfway through I asked if I could use the restroom and thankfully she said yes. I think if she had said no I would have gone anyway. As it turns out, many pregnant women lie about having a full bladder before doing the ultrasound scan. Well, ladies, the ultrasound tech knows whether or not you are telling the truth. She has the scanner and can literally see what is inside of you.

I am pretty sure ultrasound techs have some type of magic vision that comes along with their education. Seriously, I could not tell what she was looking at on the screen. I went in there thinking I would be able to tell what everything was right away. I mean, I have done this twice before. I should be a pro by now. Unfortunately, that was not the case because I only saw random floating blobs of black and gray. Luckily, the tech kindly pointed out my baby’s hands and feet and legs and head. That’s good to know.

Apparently this kid can’t sit still. It just kept rolling and turning and kicking and punching and wiggling. After numerous tries to find a certain body part, the tech said, “I’ll just leave the scanner here and eventually the baby will roll into the right spot.” I believe I just found my excuse to eat more and sleep more. My active baby needs it.

My placenta is implanted in the front of my uterus. This is not as common as having a placenta in the posterior, or back, of the uterus. This also means that most of the baby’s movements are cushioned by the placenta and explains why I have not been feeling movement. However, as the baby gets bigger, there will be less room for it to move around and I’ll be able to feel more of the movements on the outside.

At one point, the ultrasound tech pushed on a part of my belly and I inadvertantly said, “Ow!” It hurt when she did that. She looked at the screen and informed me I was having a contraction there. I did not feel it until she pressed on it, so that was interesting to me. Apparently my uterus is practicing for the actual birth.

According to my mother and mother-in-law, ultrasounds were only for when a doctor suspected something was wrong. Today, thanks to modern technology, the option to find out the sex of the baby presents itself much earlier than the delivery date. Depending on who you talk to, people will most likely tell you that you should find out right away, or that you should wait. People have very strong opinions on the topic. I am in the camp of finding out the sex of the baby. My type A planning personality feels like it can now get a head start on organizing and prepping baby items.

There are several reasons why some hospitals/companies ask for a full bladder and while we are all put together a little differently and it may not be necessary for some it is best to respect the instruction and not assume you know best just because someone else didn’t need the water or not all companies ask for it.

One reason for the full bladder not already mentioned is that it raised the position of baby up away from the pelvic bone allowing the operator a greater range of angles to approach baby. Ultrasound cannot see through the mothers bones and depending on the protocols and series of images that need to be taken, if baby is sitting too low down then it may not be possible to complete the scan.

Further to this, while some babies are quite active and move around during the scan, others are more restful and lay in a position comfortable for them and don’t want to move. This position is not always ideal for getting images of baby. Sure, we can roll Mum around, get her to cough, do jumping jacks, wobble her belly etc. to try and get baby to move but if the bladder if full, sending a lady to empty part way through the scan can also cause baby to move into a different position.

In my experience more often than not the bladder also assists with visualization of the cervix. While some companies routinely do a vaginal scan in order to see the cervix others will be happy with an external view where it can be seen adequately. Most ladies given the option tend to favor a full bladder over in internal ultrasound exam.

In summary, the point I was hoping to make is please don’t ignore the instructions given to you and assume you know better than the people trained to look after you simply because someone else had a different experience. Our bodies are not all put together in quite the same way, our babies don’t always behave the same way and different companies do have their own ways of going about things. But, if they are asking you to do something they have their reasons for doing so.

Ask questions by all means and if you genuinely can’t hold the bladder then empty some or all. If you try and drink the water but don’t keep it down due to the evils of morning sickness we won’t hold it against you. If you take the path of ‘I didn’t see the point so I didn’t bother’ however (as many patients have admitted to me over the years) please do not hold your technician responsible if they are unable to complete a thorough examination of your baby/babies.

I love this! I think we all learn something different when we go in depending on who is helping us through the process and the instructions we are given. At my 20 week the person was very up front letting us know that this was about the health of the baby and asked my husband to wait outside for the scan. He then did all of his magic taking over 100 pictures/ videos for the doctor while inverting my bed upside down. (No one ever told me they would have to do that) After he was done he invited my husband in and let us know that he can get his job done way faster without 100 questions while he is taking the needed information. He then showed us lots of important parts like head, spine, heart, face ect and the sex of the baby. At first I thought his bedside manner was a bit rude but the more I think about it the more it makes me realize that the 20 week scan really is about the health of the baby. It is fun and exciting to see and find out the sex of the baby as parents but the real important part is to make sure that the little one is safe and sound 🙂