December 4, 2023Read More
By week 13, you’re moving past your first trimester and beginning your second trimester. Your baby, while tiny, is now fully formed, down to their fingers and toes!
If you’re getting ready for your 13 weeks scan this week, you’ll likely want to know:
A nuchal translucency (NT) screening measures the thickness of the area of fluid buildup at the back of the baby’s neck. Some fluid is expected, but too much might indicate a potential risk of 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 your blood sample, which will also contain fragments of your baby’s DNA. This DNA can indicate the fetus’ genetic makeup, including chromosomal anomalies. 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:
Ask your practitioner what information these tests can give you and whether they recommend one test over another. You can also choose not to receive more information at this time and wait until your next ultrasound at 18-20 weeks.
During an ultrasound, a sonographer or trained technician uses a hand-held device called a transducer to make sound waves (too quiet for human ears to hear) that travel painlessly through your body to your baby. An ultrasound machine can detect the sound waves and use them to create an image of your baby’s exact size, shape and position.
Unlike X-rays, ultrasounds don’t use radiation to capture images and are safe when performed by a trained sonographer or ultrasound technician, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Only practitioners trained to give fetal ultrasounds can give you a pregnancy ultrasound.
At your 13 week ultrasound, you will most likely receive a transabdominal ultrasound. During a transabdominal ultrasound, the sonographer will place gel on your belly and abdomen and slide a transducer across the gel to capture detailed images of different parts of your baby and your womb and cervix.
While ultrasound scans are safe and low impact, there are some steps you can take to prepare for your appointment, such as:
Using the results of your 13 weeks ultrasound, your healthcare practitioner will learn valuable information about how the fetus is developing and how your body is changing. This will likely be the last time the fetus is measured using crown rump length, which will be about 2.9 inches (7.4 cm). The body and head will be reaching more proportionate sizing and you may even be able to see the fetus yawn, suck its thumb, stretch and make faces!
Every part of your baby’s body is becoming more defined, and eyelashes, fingernails and hair are also starting to grow. Certain major organs, like the kidney system, are also developing and becoming functional now. Although you won’t be able to see it on your ultrasound, your baby will be developing vocal chords too, as well as ovaries or testes. You may be able to see more of these details in later pregnancy ultrasounds.
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. Predictions of the sex of your fetus at 13 weeks are fairly accurate, although it’s more common to wait until about midway through the second trimester.
At 13 weeks, your practitioner may be able to see the genital tubercle or the very beginnings of genitalia forming. Called the nub theory, by 13 weeks, it’s over 98% accurate in predicting sex by examining the angle of the tubercle.
Keep in mind that your practitioner will likely send you for an anatomy scan around the 20-week mark anyways to determine sex, but you can find out earlier if you are opting into additional diagnostic testing, such as NIPT, CVS or amniocentesis.
The ultrasound technician at your appointment can’t legally answer questions about what can be seen in your ultrasound or discuss the results of your ultrasound report. However, the technician can answer questions about your appointment and the procedure itself. They will prepare images, which is reviewed by a radiologist. The radiologist then prepares a report for your practitioner to discuss with you at your ultrasound follow-up appointment.
Your healthcare practitioner will go over the results of your 13 weeks pregnant ultrasound with you at your follow-up appointment. The ultrasound provides insight into the health and development of the fetus and your own health, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.
You may be eager to access your 13 weeks pregnant ultrasound images and report as soon as possible. With PocketHealth you can quickly and easily access and share your pregnancy ultrasound images and report–often before your follow-up appointment with your practitioner. Access your records here.
PocketHealth enables you to securely access, share and store your imaging and other health information in one place. You can also easily share images with family and friends and see how your baby is changing over time.
Pregnancy ultrasound terminology can be complicated, but PocketHealth Report Reader is there to help. Report Reader makes it easier to understand terms in your ultrasound report and feel more prepared and confident when speaking to your pregnancy care practitioner.
Your 13 weeks pregnant ultrasound provides you and your practitioner with important information about your and your baby’s health and can determine whether you may need additional testing.
Understanding what’s happening inside your body and how your baby is growing can give you confidence in how your pregnancy is progressing into the second trimester.