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What To Expect During Your Level 2 Ultrasound

It’s the day that you’ve been waiting for- it’s time for your Level 2, 20-week prenatal ultrasound. You are about to get an in-depth, close-up look at your baby, you’ll get to take home a set of ultrasound pictures to show off, and – if you want – you’ll even find whether you’re carrying a little lady or a little man. No matter how amazing that all sounds, you need to reign in your excitement just a little bit and remember these essential pieces of advice.

Your second-trimester ultrasound, called an anatomy scan, will last between 20 and 45 minutes and will be used to assess your baby’s growth and physical development. Your baby will be measured inside and out – literally- and the sonographer will evaluate your baby’s heart, brain, spine, kidneys, bladder, stomach, and sex organs. Your amniotic fluid levels and placenta will also be looked at.

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Remember that you’ll only find out your baby’s sex at the end of the exam. The sonographer has a lengthy list of items to evaluate, and the baby’s gender is at the end. A repeated “so is a boy or a girl?” to your sonographer is as annoying as the incessant “are we there yet?” whining during long car rides, so be patient. If you want your baby’s sex to be a surprise, inform your sonographer at the beginning of the exam so that you don’t accidentally find out.

Be sure to prepare yourself physically for your ultrasound. When you schedule your appointment, confirm with your doctor whether you’ll be expected to have a full bladder for the exam. The ultrasound exam itself involves rubbing a hand-held transducer directly on your belly, so make sure that you wear clothes that allow the sonographer easy access to your entire stomach.

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As for ultrasound etiquette, don’t show up for your exam with a dozen different family members, regardless of how excited they all are about your pregnancy. Your ultrasound exam is, above all, a medical exam, and having to perform in front of a large group of over-zealous aunts and over-protective in-laws can be extremely stressful for the sonographer. You wouldn’t want them to miss anything while they’re answering questions from eight different people, would you?

You should also consider that on rare occasions, ultrasounds do uncover abnormalities that require further testing; do you really want an audience in the room with you when that news is presented? Bring one person- a spouse, a family member or a friend- with you. If you have no choice but to bring your baby’s older siblings with you, use your judgement- if your kids have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, this may be one of those occasions where unlimited screen time is allowed. You don’t want your sonographer distracted by a bunch of kids running unchecked around the exam room.

Many clinics nowadays offer pictures taken during the ultrasound for a fee, however, don’t expect your clinic to allow you or anyone else with you at the exam to take their own pictures or videos. Many practitioners nowadays are against being filmed during medical procedures in order to protect themselves.

While I was able to watch most of my ultrasound while it was being performed, my clinic was against providing pictures of a baby’s organs because they didn’t want parents going home and self-diagnosing their babies with rare conditions or disorders. Let your sonographer know at the beginning of the exam if you’d like a picture, and they’ll make sure to get you the most beautiful shot they can.

Finally, and most importantly, try to relax during the exam and enjoy getting to know your baby. Take the time to bask in how much your body has accomplished in just 20 weeks. There are only 20 weeks left until you get to meet them for the very first time!

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