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3D Ultrasound at 18 Weeks of Pregnancy

Are you 18 weeks pregnant? If so, you are probably wondering what to expect from the 3D ultrasound. Today we will be discussing what you’ll be able to see at this stage of pregnancy and whether it is possible for your baby’s gender (boy or girl) to be determined at this point in time. As you wait patiently for your ultrasound at 18 weeks, here are some things you should know about what this scan will tell you about your baby!

Gender 3D Ultrasound 18 Weeks - What to expect? Boy vs Girl

What Is A 3D Ultrasound And What Can It Be Used For?

A 3D ultrasound (or “three-dimensional”) ultrasound is a type of medical imaging technique that gathers real-time data based on the ultrasound waves that the system sends and receives to and from the body. When using this technology, a sonographer can easily get a close-up view of the fetus, and visually inspect the baby’s development. Using other methods of scanning, the baby can be measured and further assessed for abnormalities.

In contrast with the more outdated 2D technology, the 3D or 4D ultrasound can help examine some conditions, such as spina bifida or cleft lip/palate more closely, and prepare a better management plan. Unfortunately, most medical labs in Canada still have not upgraded their systems to match the progress the technology has made. 

This type of ultrasound can be used to determine what the baby’s gender may be or whether there might be any abnormalities such as ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants in a location outside of the uterus, usually either in one of your ovaries).

How Accurate Is The 3D Ultrasound At 18 Weeks?

The accuracy of the ultrasound depends on many factors. Factors like how far along in your pregnancy you are, the position of the fetus, and if an accurate dating scan is done can affect whether or not it’s possible to determine the gender as early as 16 weeks. The further along the pregnancy is, the more accurate the determination is, so at 18 weeks, the gender determination is highly accurate, again, provided the baby cooperates. We have had occasions where we could tell what gender a baby was from as early as 14 weeks, while other times it’s not possible until the 20th week, due to the baby hiding or other factors.

In general though, if a woman has an accurate dating scan at 18 weeks and she is having a vaginal birth, we are able to detect the gender of her baby with a high degree of. In fact, at our studio, we have not had any incidents of wrong gender determination in our 6 years of serving the community and thousands of happy clients! 

There are many different positions for the baby to be in. If you’re interested in finding out if your baby is a boy or a girl, then it is possible to determine this at 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, there are some factors that can affect whether or not we’ll be able to see them clearly on the ultrasound machine.

While it is possible to determine the baby’s gender at 16 weeks of pregnancy, but not this is not the case all the time. There are a few factors that can affect the accuracy of the scan:

  • The position you’re in when your ultrasound takes place. The sonographer may ask you to change or adjust your position as the exam progresses.
  • Your baby’s position  
  • Your baby’s size and positioning within your uterus
  • Your pregnancy stage  
    Ultrasound accuracy is increased as gestational age increases, so it may be possible to determine gender sooner than 18 weeks. At our studio, we start the gender determination services at 16 weeks.

What To Expect From The 3D Ultrasound With Your Baby At 18 Weeks?

The baby is now about 15 inches long and weighs about two pounds. In the third trimester, your baby’s weight will average between three to four pounds. His or her head has grown from a size of an orange 11 weeks ago to a size that now resembles a watermelon in comparison. The skin on their face and hands is much more developed. The baby is rapidly gaining weight and fat, which will allow him or her to put on the necessary amount of insulation against the cold environment outside.

The 18-week ultrasound provides a clearer picture than in previous weeks because it allows for an evaluation of your baby’s limbs, spine, heart, brain development as well as his or her other organs. This is an important step in the process of determining your baby’s gender. The external genitalia usually is formed around 12-13 weeks but can be difficult to spot via ultrasound. By 16 weeks, and certainly, at 18 weeks the genitalia can be well visible if the baby allows it.

The 18-week ultrasound also gives you a chance to have another look into the womb and see what they’re doing while not feeling them move. 

Babies at this age will sleep most of the day, but when they’re awake, you may notice them sucking their thumb or fingers.

If your baby is in a breech position (buttocks or feet positioned downwards), it’s likely that he or she will turn to head-down by 20 weeks gestation — however, some babies will remain breech until labor.

Tips On How To Prepare For Your Appointment

  • If your appointment is on a weekday, avoid strenuous work or exercise for 24 hours prior to the exam.
  • Wear clothing that you can change easily if necessary and pack a bag with extra clothes just in case. 
  • Bring a list of any medications you take with you to the appointment, as well as copies of images from previous ultrasounds that have been saved on a CD or USB drive if you are seeing this doctor for the first time. 
  • If possible, bring someone who can accompany you for the duration of the exam – it may seem like a long time. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 restrictions, many medical labs and hospitals have restricted visiting protocols, and do not allow for any guests to be present at your 18 weeks ultrasound. Our studio has always allowed partners to be in the room with the mommies while maintaining all proper cleaning procedures.
  • Have your phone easily accessible, as you may be asked to call someone in case of an emergency or if the doctor needs to speak with someone else while they are examining you.
  • If possible, watch videos on Youtube that can help prepare for what will happen at the appointment – this is helpful if your doctor has suggested that they will not be able to determine the gender of your baby at this point in time.
  • If you are carrying more than one fetus, it is possible for them to have different genders – so don’t worry too much about trying to guess which sibling’s ultrasound images you will see during the exam.

The Importance Of Having An Ultrasound Done At 18 Weeks

One of the most important things for expectant mothers to know is when their 18-week ultrasound appointment is. An ultrasound at this stage, also known as the anatomy scan or anatomy ultrasound, will be able to provide much more information than a standard checkup, so it’s worth making sure you have this done at an appropriate time, without delay. The anatomy scan should be done at 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, depending on scheduling opportunities.

The 18-week scan can help parents see the shape of their baby and how they are developing in the womb. The sonographer will take measurements as well as make sure that all limbs have developed correctly and there are no markers for any potential problems with organs or limbs.

The 18-week medical scan is also the first time that parents will be able to find out their baby’s gender unless they have had a 16 week ultrasound done privately. Even in that case, it would be another way to confirm the accuracy of that determination. 

The 18-week scan can also help to confirm the gestational age which is important for medical management of the pregnancy as well as parents whose dates might be different from that of their doctor’s estimations. 

The 18-week ultrasound is also important for other reasons, such as checking on the size and position of their child to make sure they are developing well. The scan is also useful for multiple pregnancies, for the same reason.

While the 18-week ultrasound can help detect many abnormalities,  it is recommended that those who think they may have a family history of genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis or Spina Bifida, get a CVS or amniocentesis to detect these problems earlier on.

Some of the things that are generally assessed during the anatomy scan are:

  • the heart’s development, including whether it has four chambers
  • Organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and intestines develop.
  • Cleft palate symptoms and other hereditary abnormalities
  • the placenta’s growth, especially if it is in the proper position
  • levels of amniotic fluid

The Best Time To Schedule Your Appointment

It is best to schedule an appointment for your baby’s anatomy ultrasound at 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. This stage in development will give you a good look at your unborn child and it should be possible to determine the gender if that is what you are hoping to find out during this time. While medical scans do not prioritize gender determination during this scan, private ultrasound clinics can help determine the gender as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy. If there are any concerns about fetal growth or health issues, it may be best to schedule your ultrasound sooner, but for the average pregnancy, 18-20 weeks is perfect.

How Long Will It Take For Me To See My Baby On The Screen?

The anatomy medical scan is an important milestone in your pregnancy journey. It checks and assesses a lot of aspects of baby’s developement. As such, some complicated and precise measurements need to take place in order to properly assess them. However, your baby might have plans on their own, and might not be in a great position to get the measurements done. While the length of the exam might depend on the baby’s cooperation, usually the scan should take around 20-30 minutes. It could also last as long as an hour, and you actually be asked to come back again if some measurements weren’t available.

However, at this stage, you may also elect to have a private 3D ultrasound done. Depending on the service you choose, and since there aren’t any measurements to be done, it may take anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, during which you can see the gender and/or facial features of the baby. 

The first thing we should look for with any ultrasound is a heartbeat. If the fetus is alive and there are no major anatomical abnormalities, then it should have one!

You will be able to see your baby’s face and body from as early as 18 weeks on the 3D ultrasound but you may need some patience for it to settle down enough to get a good picture. As your pregnancy progresses, the baby will be gaining more weight and the face will start changing. It may be worth it to come back and get another scan done at around 26 weeks to see how much the baby has changed.

3D Ultrasound - A Date With Baby

We hope that you found these tips helpful and are looking forward to your 3D ultrasound appointment. In the meantime, we will be happy to guide you as to when it is best to come for your private 3D ultrasound scan. Contact us to discuss!
If you would like more information about booking a 3D Ultrasound in 18 weeks or get answers to any questions related to this blog post topic please contact us.
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