19 Oct 2022 | 7 min Read
Author | 759 Articles
One of the most crucial scans you will have during your second-trimester pregnancy is the level 2 ultrasound, more commonly known as the 20-week anatomy scan. Generally scheduled between 18-22 weeks, this special pregnancy ultrasound helps your doctor determine your baby’s development and if there are any risks, or if your pregnancy is going exactly as it should!
The level 2 ultrasound involves a transabdominal scan compared to the transvaginal scans conducted earlier in your pregnancy. Since this ultrasound is a bit different and detailed, it can be nerve-wracking for expectant mums undergoing it. Nonetheless, a little bit of knowledge about this scan can help prepare you for the experience, and also indicate what you should expect during the ultrasound.
To begin the scan, your doctor or ultrasound technician will ask you to lie down on the exam table and apply an ultrasonic gel to your belly. The physician or doctor will then move the ultrasound transducer wand over your abdomen. During this process, your doctor might press your belly a bit, don’t worry, it will not hurt your child. But if you do feel uncomfortable at any point during the scan, do let your doctor know right away.
Now let us give you a little bit of insight into what exactly happens during this scan. During the ultrasound, the doctor will assess fetal anatomy and your baby’s size. They will determine if your baby’s size is steady and apt in comparison to other babies of the same gestational age and whether your placenta is healthy. Additionally, if you are carrying twins, the doctor will scan each fetus separately to understand their growth and development.
The scan itself will take 45-75 minutes to complete, and you often receive the results on the same day. In some cases, the doctor will also suggest follow-up ultrasounds for growth and reevaluation based on the results of your initial scan.
By the time this scan is conducted (between 18-22 weeks), your baby develops rapidly, and that helps your medical practitioner study details of their organs from head to toe. The doctor will specifically scan the following organs during the ultrasound to rule out the risk of any anomalies or defects.
The images produced by the ultrasound appear to live on a particular screen, and your doctor will record them to provide you with all the scan images later.
In the next section, we give you a deeper insight into what the level 2 ultrasound during mid-pregnancy indicates about your baby’s organs. Keep reading to learn more.
One of the first things that parents do right after their child’s birth is count the number of fingers and toes they have. But now, with the advent of technology, you can do the counting of your baby’s fingers and toes, even before they are born, via the level 2 ultrasound.
But there is one little flaw in the process. Whether you are able to count your little one’s fingers and toes during the scan depends on their level of cooperation. If your baby is moving and squirming too much, then it might be an impossible task for you to keep and continue the count, and you might actually have to wait until they are born to determine if they have the right number of fingers and toes.
Unlike your baby’s fingers and toes, you are likely to see bigger body parts, such as their legs clearly during the ultrasound, despite the movement.
During the scan, your doctor will measure the baby’s thigh bone (femur) to calculate how is your baby developing for their gestational age. Sometimes, it’s also possible to see your baby kicking during the scan, which can be a potentially exciting moment for the parents.
In addition to your baby’s legs, the doctor will also measure the bones of their arms. Also, depending on their position, you may see your little one waving their arms or sucking their thumb.
If you are lucky, your doctor might even be able to snap a still picture of your baby sucking their thumb or waving their arms. You can keep it as a cherished keepsake, and also show it to your child when they are older.
At this point, the appearance of your baby’s brain has a butterfly look. During the scan, your doctor will examine the anatomic landmarks in your little one’s brain. They will also note the risk of any anomalies found, such as plexus cysts.
The doctor will also have a look at your baby’s stomach, kidneys, urinary tract, and other key structures. They will also inform you about any abnormal findings or anomalies at the end of the scan.
Your baby’s spine is also examined during the level 2 ultrasound. During the scan, the doctor examines your baby’s neural tube and spine to confirm that they have been formed healthily without any cysts.
During the ultrasound, the doctor looks through your baby’s heart to measure the fetal heart rate, and look out for any structural problems, such as defects in the ventricles or other heart-related complications. If your doctor suspects a defect in your baby’s heart, they will recommend a fetal echocardiogram for further diagnosis.
During the anatomy scan, the doctor will confirm where the placenta is located and its condition to rule out the risk of placenta previa.
The doctor also reviews the umbilical cord and its functions and structure. If the doctor finds any anomalies, they will let you know about it once the scan is complete.
The level 2 ultrasound scan can also help determine your baby’s sex. However, under India’s rules and regulations, parents are strictly forbidden from finding out the gender of the baby or even asking the doctor about their little one’s gender.
In addition to normal ultrasound scans, like level 2 anatomy scans, your doctor might also recommend a 3D ultrasound to give you a detailed view of your growing baby. In fact, 3D ultrasounds give you much clear and life-like images as compared to the grainy ones from 2D scans.
The uncertainty of what will happen during your level 2 ultrasound might make you anxious, but remember, it’s a good way to determine your baby’s growth and development, and the possibility of any anomalies, way ahead of their birth. In fact, if needed, you can also start the necessary treatments after the scan results to enhance your little one’s health and well-being.
Besides determining their health, the level 2 ultrasound also gives you the perfect opportunity to see your baby up-and-close and also study their facial features, and more! So instead of getting anxious, seek support from your doctor and ask them thorough questions to ease your mind.
The level 2 ultrasound scan is one of the most important pregnancy scans that give you an overview of your baby’s growth and development, and also helps determine the possibilities of any defects or anomalies.
During the level 2 ultrasound, your doctor studies and analyses your baby’s organs, including arms, legs heart, lungs, umbilical cord to detect any abnormalities.
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