December 4, 2023Read More
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
While ultrasound scans are safe and low impact, but there are some steps you can take to prepare for your appointment, such as:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.