20 week fetus

At 20 weeks pregnant you have now reached the halfway mark in your pregnancy – congratulations! You should be getting your 20 week scan now. This scan will be a little more detailed than the first as they will want to give your baby a complete health check. This ultrasound based diagnostic imaging is used to check all your baby’s body structures including muscles, joints, vessels, tendons, umbilical cord and all the major organs for any malfunctions or lesions.


20 Weeks Scan

They will also measure the head circumference, spine length, limbs, amount of amniotic fluid and check for any facial defects such as cleft palate on your 20 week fetus. You can even find out what the sex of your baby is if you want to and take home a treasured first picture. This scan usually falls somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks, depending on your antenatal routine.

Once you are the proud owner of the first picture of your baby to take home and show everyone, perhaps even knowing what color you are going to paint the nursery, then a really fun way to remain engaged in your baby’s development is to get a basic home device called a ‘doppler’. This can be used solely to hear your baby’s heartbeat at home. Watch this video to see how to use a doppler yourself.

There are actually 2 types of doppler that the medical professionals use:

  • Fetal doppler – which monitors the blood flow from the baby to the placenta. It scans the main artery in the umbilical cord and other fetal blood vessels. If the placenta is not working to full capacity then this can lower the baby’s oxygen levels. To compensate for lower oxygen, the baby will naturally divert blood towards the brain. Using a fetal doppler, doctors can assess if the situation is serious or not, or warrants closer monitoring.
  • Uterine artery doppler – this monitors the blood flow from the mother to the placenta. High resistance doppler waveforms can indicate an abnormal flow of oxygen through the uterine artery that leads to the placenta. If this is confirmed then you may need closer monitoring, regular scans and blood pressure checks as there is a risk of having an underweight baby or developing pre-eclampsia.

At 20 weeks pregnant you are likely to be showing now as your uterus will be up to your bellybutton by now and your hormones will be relaxing and dilating your blood vessels to cope with the increase in blood flow, without raising your blood pressure.

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(See Pregnancy Week 20 – The Baby’s Development)

STAGES OF PREGNANCY DEVELOPMENT

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