11 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound: What to Know Before Your Appointment

11 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Image of Fetus

Prepping for an ultrasound at 11 weeks pregnant? Here’s what you need to know before you book your next scan.

At 11 weeks pregnant, you’re almost finished your first trimester! Your baby has already graduated from an embryo to a fetus and is starting to look more like a tiny person day by day.

If you’re prepping for a scan this week, read on to discover:

  • Why you may get an ultrasound at 11 weeks pregnant
  • What to expect and questions to ask during and after your appointment
  • What the sonographer is screening for, and which details you’ll be able to make out
  • How to understand and share your ultrasound images

11 reasons to get an ultrasound at 11 weeks pregnant

At 11 weeks, it’s typical for your practitioner to requisition an ultrasound for you. An ultrasound at this stage of pregnancy will screen for several things, like:

  1. Confirming weeks of gestation to adjust your due date. An ultrasound at this stage is sometimes called a ‘dating scan’.
  2. Measuring the fetus. The crown rump length is also used to narrow down your due date.
  3. Analyzing the progress of fetal development.
  4. Checking for multiple embryos, and if confirmed, identifying the types of twins or multiples.
  5. Verifying that your pregnancy is intrauterine (embedded in your uterus), and not an ectopic or molar pregnancy.
  6. Discerning the source of vaginal bleeding, should you be experiencing any.
  7. Examining the condition of your cervix, ovaries and uterus.
  8. Checking the location and health of the placenta.
  9. Ensuring your amniotic fluid is sufficient.
  10. Assessing the fetal heart rate.
  11. Screening for genetic abnormalities by measuring nuchal translucency.

What does a nuchal translucency screening tell you?

A nuchal translucency (NT) screening measures the fluid level at the back of the fetus’ neck. Some fluid is to be expected, but too much might be indicative of a potential risk of certain chromosomal anomalies, like Trisomy 21 (i.e., Down syndrome). It is often one of several routine prenatal screenings during the first trimester. But keep in mind that it is a screening test, not a diagnosis.

11 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Image Showing Nuchal Translucency Measurement

Pregnancy ultrasound image showing increased nuchal translucency

If your NT ultrasound comes back positive or inconclusive and you want more information, your practitioner may order further screening tests. For instance, noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a highly accurate genetic screening based on blood samples. NIPT identifies the risk of Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.
After screening tests come diagnostic tests. These are the tests that provide diagnoses. With your consent, your physician may order the following:

  • Chorionic Villus sampling (CVS): A small sample of tissue is removed from the placenta for genetic testing and analysis.
  • Amniocentesis: A sample of amniotic fluid is withdrawn and sent to the lab for testing. Keep in mind that amniocentesis is normally performed after 15 weeks.

What to expect at an 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound appointment

During your appointment, a trained ultrasound technician or sonographer uses a wand called a transducer coated in a conductive gel to transmit microbursts of sound waves through your body. Painless and at too high a frequency for human ears to hear, these sound waves create echoes as they come in contact with structures and tissues. Ultrasound technology processes the echoes into images that you can see in real-time on a monitor.

When performed by physicians, sonographers, and other trained technicians, ultrasounds are a safe, low-risk procedure according to Health Canada and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Is an 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound internal or external?

There are two main types of pregnancy ultrasounds: transvaginal and transabdominal. In a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound, the gel-coated transducer wand is inserted into the vagina. In a transabdominal (external) ultrasound, the technician applies the clear gel to your abdomen and rubs the transducer through it to capture images.

By 11 weeks pregnant, you’ll likely receive a transabdominal ultrasound. At this point in your pregnancy, the fetus is large enough that the technician will be able to capture details through your abdominal wall.

How to prepare for your appointment

While ultrasound scans are safe and low impact, but there are some steps you can take to prepare for your appointment, such as:

  • Bringing a copy of your requisition. This documentation communicates exactly which type of exam you require and makes the check-in process easier (in case your practitioner hasn’t sent your requisition in advance to the clinic or hospital).
  • Setting your appointment for a time when your baby is active. Fetal movement helps the ultrasound technician capture more and better images. Having a cold sugary beverage before might also give your baby a little extra stimulation.
  • Showing up with a full bladder. Sound waves travel more freely through liquid. A full bladder gives your technician a better chance to capture clear images.
  • Drinking plenty of water during the week before your ultrasound. If you’re well-hydrated, your amniotic fluid stays clear, which makes for sharper images.
  • Wearing loose and comfortable clothes. Choose clothes you can easily take on and off.
  • Having a support person with you. Not all hospitals or imaging clinics support persons to attend ultrasound scans.

What can you see on an ultrasound at 11 weeks pregnant?

You and your health team will learn valuable information at your 11 weeks ultrasound. Your fetus will be about 2 inches (5 cm) long, and the head will make up almost half its total length. Your ultrasound will show you the beginnings of recognizable features including:

  • Visible limbs, on which fingers and toes are no longer webbed and developing nails
  • Ears moving into proper position
  • A nose gaining definition
  • Translucent skin
  • Closed eyelids
  • A gradually hardening jaw

Other development is not visible at this point, but still ongoing and important. Internal organs like lungs and intestines are forming, while glands and the circulatory system are beginning to operate.

11 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Labeled Diagram

Ultrasound image at 11 weeks pregnant

Can you tell the sex of the baby at 11 weeks?

Though sometimes used as synonyms, sex and gender mean different things. Sex refers to physical characteristics and attributes, while gender refers to the social roles individuals use to identify themselves in the world. At 11 weeks pregnant, the fetus is beginning to develop genitalia and other sexual characteristics, but your ultrasound technician may not be able to discern them at this time depending on how the fetus is positioned.

Before the genitalia is fully formed, it’s referred to as the genital tubercle. The nub theory predicts sex by examining the angle of the tubercle and predictions are accurate in almost 91% of cases at 11 and 12 weeks.

Questions to ask during and after your ultrasound appointment

Your technician cannot legally answer questions about the details found in your ultrasound or discuss the results with you. Instead, they’ll prepare the images, which are reviewed by a radiologist. The radiologist then prepares a report for your practitioner to discuss with you at your ultrasound follow-up appointment.

Questions to ask the technician before and during your ultrasound appointment:

  • How long will the appointment last?
  • Can I have someone in here with me?
  • Can I take photos or videos of my own during the appointment?
  • How will you share the results with my healthcare team, and when?

Your practitioner will go over the results of your 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound with you at a follow-up appointment. The ultrasound provides insight into your own health, as well as fetal development, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Questions to ask at your follow-up appointment:

  • What are the signs of a healthy pregnancy at 11 weeks? Do I fit those markers?
  • Is there any adjustment to my due date?
  • How big is the fetus? What is the crown rump length?
  • Is the heartbeat in a normal range?
  • What were the results of the nuchal translucency test?
  • Do any results require more testing? If so, what kind?
  • What changes will I notice in the next few weeks?
  • When is my next ultrasound?

How to access and share your 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound pictures and report

At 11 weeks, you may want to share images of your fetus with loved ones. If you want early access to your images, possibly even prior to your follow-up appointment, you can use PocketHealth. Access your records here.

PocketHealth enables fast access, sharing and permanent storage of all your health images and information in one place. You can conveniently share your pregnancy ultrasound images with friends and family so everyone can keep track of your progress.

If you need clarity on the terms in your ultrasound report, PocketHeath can lend a hand. The PocketHealth Report Reader provides definitions of imaging terminology so you can read and understand your reports with ease and confidently discuss the results with your practitioner.

Moving into your second trimester with confidence

Your 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound will confirm or adjust your due date, track the development of your fetus, and measure nuchal translucency. You’ll be able to discern limbs and digits and see some facial features, though it may be a bit too early to determine the sex with accuracy.

Being prepared for your 11 weeks pregnant ultrasound helps you be comfortable and confident both during your scan and at your follow-up appointment. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you’ll be at every step of your pregnancy journey, especially as you enter your second trimester in week 13.

How PocketHealth works

Learn more about how to use PocketHealth to access and share your pregnancy ultrasound records.

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