The Morphology Scan – What Can Be Expected?
The morphology scan, often referred to as the anatomy scan, is a standard procedure conducted during the second trimester of pregnancy. This ultrasound plays a pivotal role in monitoring your baby’s development and providing parents with their first glimpse of a fully-formed infant. The morphology scan pictures are often a precious memory for many parents as it is the first time you can see your baby fully formed.
In this blog, we will understand all about the intricacies of the morphology scan and what parents can expect during this significant milestone.
What is a morphology scan?
Typically scheduled between the 18th and 20th weeks of pregnancy, the morphology scan is designed to evaluate the physical development of your fetus while also identifying potential congenital disorders and major anatomical abnormalities.
Anatomy scans can be performed using either 3D or 2D ultrasound technology, both of which are capable of capturing crystal-clear images of the fetus, allowing parents to witness their baby in the womb. Moreover, the 20-week appointment is an opportune moment to discover your baby’s gender if you wish to do so.
What Does Morphology Scan Examine?
Compared to the earlier, less detailed ultrasounds in the first trimester, the morphology scan provides significantly sharper and more detailed images. Here’s what the skilled sonographers will meticulously assess:
Measuring Your Baby’s Size and Organ Assessment:
During the scan, precise measurements of your baby will be taken, encompassing dimensions from crown to rump, around the middle, and the head circumference. The sonographer will also estimate your baby’s weight. Critical organs, such as the heart (with its four chambers), kidneys, bladder, stomach, brain, spine, and sex organs, will be examined, with special attention to monitoring the fetal heart rate.
Genetic Disorder Screening:
The anatomy scan also serves as a vital screening tool for genetic disorders, as it identifies both hard and soft markers that may indicate an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, congenital heart defects, single kidney, cleft palate, or spina bifida.
If you wish to know your baby’s gender, the morphology scan is a reliable mean to obtain this information. Be sure to communicate your preference with the sonographer beforehand if you’d rather keep it a surprise.
Amniotic Fluid Assessment:
The ultrasound will gauge the quantity of amniotic fluid in your uterus, ensuring it falls within the expected range. Additionally, the placenta’s location will be examined for any anomalies.
How to Prepare for the Morphology Scan?
Morphology scan is a thorough procedure, so please be prepared to spend some time on the examination table while the sonographer obtains the optimal views of your baby. We recommend planning your day accordingly. Some healthcare providers suggest maintaining a full bladder or having a light meal before the appointment, as these measures can improve image clarity and facilitate fetal movement.
What to Expect During the Morphology Scan?
Your morphology scan will typically last between 30 minutes to an hour. As you recline on the examination table, the sonographer will apply gel to your belly and maneuver the ultrasound wand around your abdomen. Images and measurements of specific organs and body parts will be captured, with moments frozen for examination. This is an exhilarating time during pregnancy when you can witness your baby on the screen.
If the baby’s position makes it challenging to obtain measurements, the sonographer may request you to change your position or have a sweet drink to stimulate movement. It is important to note that the sonographer may remain quiet during the scan and not disclose results. Your obstetrician will discuss the findings either immediately after the ultrasound or during a follow-up appointment in the coming days.
Once all the necessary images are captured, and the sonographer is satisfied with the measurements and angles, you can wipe off the gel from your belly.
Your Baby at 20 Weeks
Around your 20-week appointment, your baby is approximately the size of a banana, weighing about 10 ounces. By this stage, the limbs, face, neck, spine, and heart are fully developed, transforming your baby from a mere speck on the ultrasound into a recognisable miniature human.
Morphology scan is a significant milestone during pregnancy. While it is natural to feel some apprehension, remember that this appointment offers you the chance to see your little one on screen. Embrace this sweet moment and cherish the opportunity to witness your baby’s growth and development.