What To Expect At Your Anatomy Scan With Twins (Or A Single Baby)
What To Expect At Your Anatomy Scan With Twins (Or A Single Baby)
My beautiful twinkies are now 4 years, 6 months, 3 weeks & 2 days old.
(All about your anatomy scan & any questions you may have are listed in this one post for your educational, reading pleasure.)
Pregnancy is a very special time in a your life, but it is also a time for being extra careful in taking care of yourself and your unborn child or children, which means visiting your doctor for your regular, pre-natal appointments. These appointments will include several ultrasounds throughout. With twins you will have many more than your singleton friends will have, that’s a promise.
Ultrasounds are used to date a pregnancy early on. (Provide a due date.) Also, the early ultrasound is to make sure things are going well from the get go, though the fetus is still so small. You will see the heartbeat or beats, and you likely will get to hear the heartbeat as well. (8 weeks is average for this 1st scan, though some women may not have one.)
Then there will be an important NT scan that takes place between 11-12 weeks most usually. Some doctors may stretch it to 13 weeks, though it must be timed properly. This scan is mainly to check for any thickening at the base of the baby’s neck, which may or may not indicate a potential problem.
As time moves on you will have a mega important ultrasound midway through your pregnancy. Between 19, 20 weeks of pregnancy usually, but it may be done between 18-22 weeks technically. This will be your longest scan of all… the level 2 anatomy scan. Anything after that will be to check your baby’s position and check the cervical length, but with twins you will have very regular scans to make sure they are growing at the proper rate as you go along.
Today we discuss the anatomy scan. This is your longest, most detailed scan, and it is usually the time where you will be asked, ”Do you wish to know the gender, boy or girl?” (Maybe both.. ha, ha.)
What does the anatomy scan (also known as a level 2 scan) show? Also, what is the doctor or technician looking for?
Ten fingers, ten toes, check the femur lengths, check the nose. (OK, just a rhyme there, though true.) They will check the crown to rump length, which is done at every scan. They check the heart, not as detailed as an echocardiogram would be, but it would tell the doctor if your baby would need such a test done. Most commonly not. Most babies check out fine, but that is what this ultrasound is for. They look for the organs that once were too small to be able to visually inspect with care. The baby is bigger so not everything, but much more can be seen.
The doctor will make sure the baby (or twins) has all of his or her important parts: a bladder, 2 kidneys, a stomach, a normal spine, sex organs, a check of the brain and the heart as mentioned before. Measurements of the head are taken to make sure all is well there. The heartbeat is listened to, or heart beats in the case of twins. They check the blood flow from the fetus to the placenta and to the heart.
They can see enough for the heart to rule out most major anomalies at this time. Like making sure there are the 4 chambers of the heart visible and the size of the heart. Anything much beyond that is done in a separate test, again not usually needed nor commonly ordered unless need be. One of my twins had an echogenic focus (bright spot on the heart) seen repeatedly, so I was referred to a hospital for an echo by specialist. Not just for that mind you, but also because baby A had previously had an abnormal NT scan result, which could indicate a heart issue. It was nerve-wracking, but all was fine with both babies. It usually is. A cleft lip may also be detected at this time if present, by a trained eye.
The location and condition of the placenta is viewed, the umbilical cord is observed, and measurements of the amount of amniotic fluid will be taken to ensure that they are at a safe and normal level. The doctor is looking to make sure everything is where it should be, your baby or twins are growing normally for their gestation, they look for any markers. Makers are spots viewed on ultrasound (the echogenic focus I just spoke of is considered one of them, but there are others.) The more markers found, the higher the chance of Down’s Syndrome and other possible chromosomal abnormalities, but having one means basically nothing. Two or more markers does not guarantee any problems with your baby AT ALL, but it can be nerve-wracking. I had the CVS test at 11 weeks with my twins, so I knew for sure I didn’t need to worry there. Your child can have no markers and still have Down’s. So while there is no need for panic, markers (or lack thereof) do not mean everything.
How long does the anatomy scan take?
Since this is the most detailed scan of all, expect to be there for awhile. It is nice though to be able to view your baby or twins for a longer period of time, up on the monitor. If you wish to know the sex of your baby or babies-to-be, the doctor will try his best to oblige. Hopefully your baby or twins will be ready, willing and able to show off their stuff for you. You have a better shot at this ultrasound because of its length and the sex organs are formed.
The scan itself takes about 45 minutes to complete, and nearly double or even more than that for twins. If your baby is uncooperative (one twin usually is if you are in that boat) it takes longer. Sometimes it can be as short as 30 minutes, but usually, in my experience, it hits closer to the 45 minute mark with a singleton. My twins were about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Expect to have to make two back to back ultrasound appointments for your babies. The office should know and do this for you, but just have that knowledge going in. You don’t want to have to make a return trip for baby b.
When will you get the results?
It depends. With my office, they had a tech do it with my 1st 3, and then I got called into the waiting room again to wait to see the doctor (same day.) My doctor then went over the results with me. Hopefully, you will have a similar experience as waiting sucks and the mind wanders. With the twins it was a Perinatologist doing my scan, so she told me things as we went along.
If you have a technician doing the scan, aside from the sex of the baby, don’t expect him or her to answer many IF any questions at all. They really aren’t supposed to do that. (I have pulled one or two answers out of one before, but it isn’t usual. Most will keep their lips sealed.) Don’t freak out over the technician’s stone-faced disposition. It does NOT ever indicate the results like it can feel like it does while you are lying on that table. I always thought, ‘OMG, what is wrong? Look at her face!’ NOT the truth. In fact, I took a course in becoming an ultrasound tech. No matter what the scan, mum is the word, the doctor is boss. If your doctor is doing the scan you may get the answers on the spot, it just depends on how your office and your doctor works.
Does it hurt?
No! Aside from the cold jelly that wakes you up in 1.5 seconds, there is NOTHING uncomfortable about this test. It is the same as any other sonogram, except that you likely will be asked to lie on your side at certain times and move on the table a bit so they can get a better view of any particular area(s). With twins it can be mighty tricky for them, so just follow instructions and chances are on your side of coming out with good news about your child or twins.
Who performs the test?
Your doctor might want to do this one, but it may be a trained ‘specialist sonographer’ inside of the office. If you are having twins, most likely a Perinatologist will do the anatomy scan for you. That is how it was done for me this last time around. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, they just have more experience with checking for any potential issues with multiples and simply in viewing multiples in a whole.
(IF you have a technician, he/she may consult with a doctor if he or she can not view something or has any questions about something specific. This does NOT mean that anything is wrong. This happened to me in the past, and I worried for nothing.)
What to remember about this level 2 anatomy scan, and yes I am yelling :lol:.
1) GET A FEW PICTURES BEFORE YOU GO!
Most technicians or doctors will remember this, but there have been times I needed to ask or I would have walked out of the office with nothing, and I surely would have been sulking the whole way home. They take a number of pictures, and certainly can provide you will a few in addition to the ones they keep for your file. Don’t be shy about it.
2) IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW YOUR BABY OR TWINS’ SEX(ES) MAKE IT KNOWN BEFORE THE SCAN!
I never had the strength to wait on that one, but if you are a strong mom-to-be and truly do not want to know the gender(s), the technician or doctor needs to know this or they might have a slip up, or not tell you to look away while they are examining the genital region. You will want them to know straight away so there are no disappointing oopsies.
3) Have your partner there with you for this one. DON’T LET HIM MISS IT!
This test is worthy of an afternoon off. Your partner will get to enjoy your baby or twins for longer than average. It is a great time to bond, and you may well get the results that day. Plus, it is nice for somebody you love to be at your side. If this proves impossible, bring a family member or special friend. Do remember it is not a 3D/4D scan, so do not invite more people than one. The person at the controls doesn’t want the whole family in the room. They need to focus on what they are doing, and that all measurements and results come out complete and accurate.
I hope this has shed some light about what to expect before, during and after your level 2 anatomy scan. It has always been my favorite scan of all!
A very happy pregnancy to you!