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The 20-week ultrasound or second trimester ultrasound is important because it's the first chance to find out your baby's gender for most people. You'll also get vital information about how your baby's developing.
Here's my very basic, unscientific explanation of what happens: The ultrasound tech slathers gel onto your tummy and scans the baby in your belly, projecting images onto a screen. The tech types in all kinds of fancy medical terminology while clicking away and measuring the body parts of the tiny person inside of you.
I learned a few things at my ultrasound appointment.
1. I haven't been feeling the baby move because I have an anterior placenta.
My placenta is implanted in the front of my uterus. This is not as common as having a placenta in the posterior, or back, of the uterus. This also means that most of the baby's movements are cushioned by the placenta and explains why I have not been feeling movement. However, as the baby gets bigger, there will be less room for it to move around and I'll be able to feel more of the movements on the outside.
2. I have random contractions.
At one point, the ultrasound tech pushed on a part of my belly and I inadvertantly said, "Ow!" It hurt when she did that. She looked at the screen and informed me I was having a contraction there. I did not feel it until she pressed on it, so that was interesting to me. Apparently my uterus is practicing for the actual birth.
3. I have no idea what the blobs on the screen are.
I am pretty sure ultrasound techs have some type of magic vision that comes along with their education. Seriously, I could not tell what she was looking at on the screen. I went in there thinking I would be able to tell what everything was right away. I mean, I have done this twice before. I should be a pro by now. Unfortunately, that was not the case because I only saw random floating blobs of black and gray. Luckily, the tech kindly pointed out my baby's hands and feet and legs and head. That's good to know.
4. I have an extremely active baby.
Apparently this kid can't sit still. It just kept rolling and turning and kicking and punching and wiggling. After numerous tries to find a certain body part, the tech said, "I'll just leave the scanner here and eventually the baby will roll into the right spot." I believe I just found my excuse to eat more and sleep more. My active baby needs it.
5. It is important to have a full bladder.
When I scheduled my appointment over the phone, the nurse made sure to tell me that I needed to drink 32 ounces of water an hour before coming in. When the doctor's office called to confirm my appointment, they reiterated the fact that I needed to have a full bladder. When I checked in for the actual appointment, the receptionist behind the desk asked if I had finished my water. Finally, when I saw the ultrasound tech, she asked if I had a full bladder. Due to the repetition of the questions, I going to go ahead and assume having a full bladder is pretty important.
6. The ultrasound tech is all-knowing.
Since I actually followed orders this time, my bladder was full. It really hurt when she pressed on my tummy. Halfway through I asked if I could use the restroom and thankfully she said yes. I think if she had said no I would have gone anyway. As it turns out, many pregnant women lie about having a full bladder before doing the ultrasound scan. Well, ladies, the ultrasound tech knows whether or not you are telling the truth. She has the scanner and can literally see what is inside of you.
7. Finding out the sex of the baby is quite controversial.
According to my mother and mother-in-law, ultrasounds were only for when a doctor suspected something was wrong. Today, thanks to modern technology, the option to find out the sex of the baby presents itself much earlier than the delivery date. Depending on who you talk to, people will most likely tell you that you should find out right away, or that you should wait. People have very strong opinions on the topic. I am in the camp of finding out the sex of the baby. My type-A planning personality feels like it can now get a head start on organizing and prepping baby items.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.