Week 16 of a normal pregnancy usually does not have many complications. At this stage, your body has already come to terms with the reality of having another smaller body growing up inside it. Consequently, early pregnancy risks are substantially low. In addition, you longer have to worry about morning and evening sickness. Many women can begin wearing maternal clothing as their bodies expand.
Nevertheless, most women would be anxious to know the progress of their unborn. This is quite natural as it is maternal instincts kick in. Well, you most probably are dying to know the sex of your baby. For this reason, a good number of them find a visit to the hospital necessary. Now, this is not just any visit: you are going for an ultrasound scan. And because it is the 16th week of the pregnancy, it is referred to as the 16 week ultrasound. This is a procedure that relies on high frequency sound waves which are used to create an image of an organ inside the body. Only that in this case, it is not an organ but the unborn.
How it is Performed
To perform an ultrasound, the doctor needs a device by the same name. The device emits high frequency sound waves into the body. These sound waves hit and bounce off various parts of the body as they travel. A probe picks up the echoes created by the bouncing sound waves and converts then into a moving image. The doctor can access the moving images via a graphic display monitor.
Ultrasounds can be performed from anywhere. The correct place for this procedure is inside the radiology department of hospitals. They usually last from 15 to 45 minutes. Only specially trained physiotherapists or midwives are allowed to perform the ultrasound on pregnant women. Before getting under the scan, drink lots of water but give toilets a wide berth. You will also be expected to stay away from any food stuff for several hours as you wait for the scan. You can visit the toilet after the procedure is complete.
What it Can Reveal
If a 16 week ultrasound is conducted, it can bring to the fore several things. Remember that at week 16, the fetus is well-developed and certain parts of its body may be clearly visible from the scan. Consequently, the ultrasound will clearly show your baby’s facial features. Prominent aspects of the face such as the nose, lips, and the forehead will be clearly defined. If you are keen enough, you might just be able to tell who the baby will take after. The eyes will also be visible, but tightly closed.
The scan may also be able to reveal your baby’s sex. This is probably why you wanted it to be done in the first place. You are anxious to know whether you are carrying a boy or a girl. The ultrasound may reveal the baby’s external genital organs. However, this depends on the position of the baby at the time of the scan. If this is your primary reason for the scan, you may have to try several scans and different stages of the pregnancy. Nevertheless, the gender of the baby should not matter so much.
Other external body parts of the fetus are also clearly visible. You can see the legs, arms, the belly and shoulders depending on the position of the baby. Generally, the ultrasound will show you that the baby is doing well and that it is well-developed.
- First, for planning purposes, you may want to know whether the baby playing in your womb is a boy or a girl. This information will help you in charting out the baby’s life. You can plan where to take them to school, the kind of toys to buy for them and even the appropriate clothing. Although it is often argued that a baby is a baby regardless of its gender – and which is true, no problem – you will plan better if you know their sex.
- Secondly, the ultrasound can reveal if there are any defects on the baby. The scan is able to reveal a lot of information about the physical condition of the baby. The organs are clearly displayed. The doctor can study them closely to find out if there are any abnormalities. If any is detected early enough, corrective measures can be undertaken to salvage the situation. For example, physical deformities in the limbs may be rectified without causing much harm to either the mother or the baby.
- Third, the ultrasound can also help determine the general health of the baby. During this process, the doctor can check the heartbeat of the fetus. The heartbeat rate will tell the doctor whether the baby is healthy or not. To assess the heartbeat of the baby, the doctor will use another device known as a Doppler. There are tales of some ancient midwives who could tell the sex of the baby by reading its heartbeat. According to the tales, a heartbeat rate faster than 140 beats per minute meant that you were carrying a girl. The reverse would imply a boy. However, no scientific research has been conducted to verify the authenticity of these findings.
- Fourth, an ultrasound may help diagnose any complications arising at this stage of the pregnancy. The baby may twist and turn around the womb and end up in awkward positions. An ultrasound will enable the doctor identify the problem and correct it before it turns into a disaster. Any other complications arising from the position of the baby or the nature of the womb can be revealed by a scan.
- Cost. Compared to other complicated medical processes, a 16 week ultrasound is not an expensive affair. $150 to $200 would not be too much considering the importance of the procedure. Besides, you may not need several of them. Just one or two may be enough, that is, if you have no complications with your pregnancy.