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Pregnancy is an indescribable journey that is an important moment in a parent’s life. When a woman reaches different stages in pregnancy, it is imperative she gets an ultrasound done to check on the baby and assess the baby’s growth and development. One such week, when an ultrasound is advised, is week 16.
Why Should Pregnant Women Have an Ultrasound at 16 Week?
Things start to get a bit exciting once you hit the 16-week mark and ultrasound is important to understand your baby’s progress. Prenatal care is an integral part of every mother’s journey and here are a few reasons as to why ultrasound is necessary at this stage.
- It can help you understand your baby’s growth and the sonographer can help measure certain parts of your baby’s body to ascertain it for any concerns.
- Ultrasound will become an integral part of your journey into motherhood. It helps determine the size, structure and any pathological lesions on the foetus.
- It can present a visual representation of your baby and help prepare for routine and emergency prenatal care.
- It can help understand if your baby is healthy and safe and if there are any abnormalities.
- Genetic issues can also be determined like Down Syndrome or any other chromosomal defects or have any other neural tube defect.
- The 16-week foetus ultrasound can determine the heartbeat and health of the heart and other organs. It can help determine if there is any heart defect as well.
What Preparation is Needed for 16-week Scan?
Your baby at 16 weeks’ ultrasound is the largest it has been in your pregnancy till date, and few things need to be done before you go for a 16-week scan. Your baby which measures around four and a half inches during the 16th week will grow double in size very quickly, here onwards, month on month. There will definitely be a weight gain during this time but morning sickness will completely disappear.
Your body will start producing milk, which will lead to breast augmentation. In addition, the belly will be bigger; the skin colour will change to a certain extent as well.
Before a scan, it is important to carry documents about your and your partner’s medical history to your gynaecologist and ask questions regarding any symptoms or issues you may be experiencing. You should also get a full physical examination including thyroid, breasts, lungs and heart. You should get a lab test done to check signs of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or any other urinary tract infections through urine tests.
Familiarizing oneself with terms which are associated with pregnancy and medical procedures such as ultrasound will also help in understanding your baby better.
How Long Does Sixteen Week Pregnancy Ultrasound Take to Complete?
An ultrasound can last anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes. Before an ultrasound, a patient is asked to drink lots of water or fluids and stay away from solid food. You cannot access the toilet when you wait for the scan but can go relieve yourself once the procedure is complete.
Before you begin the test, make sure to prepare yourself mentally to wait and to understand that they take time, to image the sonography. Imaging reports also take a day to be produced but both the parents will be shown the image of their baby on the screen.
How is Sixteen Week Scan Done?
A 16-week foetus ultrasound is done by using a device that emits high-frequency sound waves into the body. The waves hit and bounce off the various organs of the body as they travel. A probe picks up these echoes created by the bouncing sound waves and starts converting them into a moving image. These images can be accessed through a graphics display monitor. These tests are usually conducted in clinics, diagnostic centres or radiology section of a hospital. A specially trained expert will be the only one who will be able to conduct a scan.
What Can Be Seen in the Scan?
When you get an ultrasound done at 16 weeks, your belly will look like a small cantaloupe. On the inside, however, your baby is around 4-5 inches in size and will continue to grow. Hair, fingernails, are starting to develop although they will be more noticeable once your progress in your pregnancy. You will be able to make out the head, the eyes, ears and torso of your baby. All the muscles and bones are in place, and the central nervous system is starting to exert control so you may even see your baby move during an ultrasound
What if Any Abnormalities Are Seen in the Ultrasound?
When you go for an ultrasound, the sonographer will also conduct a variety of other tests to determine any abnormalities in your baby’s growth such as measuring the length of the baby’s nasal bone to determine any abnormalities in growth is one. There are several blood tests which are offered to determine any risks or abnormalities that can arise at this stage of the pregnancy.
The Triple screen is a prenatal blood test that will help assess any issues with the baby. The test primarily helps test looks at levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein produced by the foetus’s liver and two hormones: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estriol to determine any birth defects such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida.
It is important to discuss any concerns or anything that comes up during an ultrasound with your doctor in order to determine the next course of action for you and your baby. It is also important to take any medication or tests that are required to keep you and your baby healthy.
At 16 weeks every mother will have the pregnancy glow and move into the second trimester which is an enjoyable phase. As your baby continues to grow, more movement from the foetus will show, the belly will grow bigger, and the body prepares for the next phase of motherhood.