14 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound: What to Know Before Your Appointment

14 weeks pregnant ultrasound image of fetus

If you didn’t get an ultrasound in weeks 11 to 13, you’ll likely be prepping for an ultrasound at 14 weeks pregnant. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

By 14 weeks pregnant, you’re officially in your second trimester! Your baby is now fully formed and has even started to develop hair (also known as lanugo) to keep warm as it continues to grow in the coming months.

If you did not have prenatal ultrasounds between weeks 11 and 13, your practitioner will send you for one in week 14 to screen for any chromosomal anomalies. Miscarriage rates also drop significantly in the second trimester compared to early pregnancy, according to the University of California Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

If you getting ready for your 14 week scan, read on to find out:

  • What the sonographer will be screening for and what details you can see
  • What information you’ll gain from a nuchal translucency screening test
  • What questions you can ask at your ultrasound appointment and follow-up
  • How to understand and share your ultrasound images

Why get an ultrasound at 14 weeks pregnant?

Your practitioner won’t likely send you for a 14 weeks pregnant ultrasound unless you didn’t have a scan between 11 and 13 weeks. During this scan, the sonographer or technician will be screening for:

  • The size of the fetus. Your practitioner will likely start using head and thigh bone measurements to measure development, called biparietal diameter measurements.
  • Bone tissue formation. Your technician will be able to see more well-defined and proportionate arms and legs.
  • External development of sex organs. Sex organs will continue to develop on the outside of your baby’s body, while ovaries or testes continue to grow inside. This development may not give a clear indication of sex just yet, though.
  • More proportionate sizing between head and body. Your baby’s body will lengthen and become more distinct from the head.
  • Structural irregularities. As your baby’s body develops, your doctor will monitor growth to make sure different externally visible parts are growing as expected.
  • Fetal heart rate and blood flows. Your doctor will be able to track your baby’s heart rate to ensure it falls within the expected beats per minute and that vessels are developing normally to allow blood flow.
  • Movement. Your baby will be able to make small, abrupt movements and so you may be able to see your baby in different positions than previous ultrasounds.
  • Sufficient amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid levels must not drop below a certain level or it can impact the health of you and your baby.
  • The health and location of your placenta. Your placenta provides nourishment for your baby and your doctor will check to make sure your placenta is able to support continued development.
  • The condition of your cervix, ovaries and uterus. As your pregnancy continues, your body will change to prepare for delivery. In particular, your doctor can ensure your cervix is lengthening as appropriate for this stage of pregnancy.
  • Discerning the source of vaginal bleeding, if you are experiencing any. Vaginal bleeding is not always cause for concern, but an ultrasound can help your doctor determine the cause.

If you didn’t have a scan between 11 and 13 weeks, your ultrasound technician may also screen to determine:

What does a nuchal translucency screening tell you?

A nuchal translucency (NT) screening is not a diagnostic test, but a measurement of 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).

11 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Image Showing Nuchal Translucency Measurement

Pregnancy ultrasound image showing increased nuchal translucency

If your NT test comes back inconclusive or positive, you have the option to request more information about the results. You can also ask your practitioner to discuss further testing with you, including:

  • Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT): This test is not diagnostic but rather screens whether the fetus is at risk of having a chromosomal disorder, like Down Syndrome. The test can also determine the sex of the fetus. The test is done using a sample of your blood, which will also contain fragments of your baby’s DNA. This DNA can indicate the fetus’ genetic makeup, including chromosomal anomalies.

Diagnostic testing is also available and includes the following options:

  • Chorionic Villus sampling (CVS): Performed by extracting a small number of cells from the placenta. These cells are called chorionic villi and carry the same genetic material as the fetus and can test for many anomalies. CVS tests for Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and other conditions but does not test for birth defects like heart problems.
  • Amniocentesis: This test uses a needle to extract a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus, and a lab uses that fluid to test for certain specific conditions. Amniocentesis can test for chromosomal and genetic conditions like Down syndrome or certain genetic conditions like sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis. The test can also indicate neural tube defects like spina bifida, which CVS cannot test for, and Rh disease. Note that amniocentesis is normally performed after 15 weeks.

You can 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 between 18 and 20 weeks.

What to expect at a 14 weeks pregnant ultrasound appointment

During a medical 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.

You’ll most likely receive a transabdominal ultrasound at your 14 weeks appointment. During a transabdominal ultrasound, you’ll be asked to change into a gown and lie down on your back on a reclined, cushioned table. 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 womb, cervix and the developing fetus.

Pregnancy ultrasounds require some preparation. You can make sure you’re ready for your 14 weeks transabdominal ultrasound by:

  • 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).
  • Arriving with a full bladder. Sound waves travel more easily through liquid, so a full bladder helps your sonographer capture the best images possible of your baby.
  • Booking your appointment when your baby is more active. Drinking a cold sugary beverage right before your appointment can also help make your baby more active, which allows the ultrasound technician to capture as many images as possible.
  • Having a support person join you during the appointment. Not all facilities allow support persons to attend, so be sure to check ahead with the imaging clinic or hospital for guidance.
  • Drinking lots of water in the week leading up to your ultrasound. Staying well hydrated helps keep amniotic fluid clear, allowing for better images.
  • Wearing loose and comfortable clothing. Make sure that whatever you wear is easy to take off and put on.

What can you see on an ultrasound at 14 weeks pregnant?

Using the results of your 14 weeks ultrasound, your healthcare practitioner will learn valuable information about how the fetus is developing and how your body is changing. This week, the fetus will be about 3.4 inches (8.5 cm) from head to bottom.

By this stage of pregnancy, biparietal diameter (measures the developing skull of the fetus) will also be taken to better determine fetal weight and age. The baby’s head will begin to round out and become more proportionate to the length of its body as its body, as its arms and legs continue to grow. Ovaries or testes will be fully formed, and genitalia is now becoming distinct on the outside of the body. Your baby can also turn its head and even bring its fingers to its mouth.

Although you won’t be able to see it on your ultrasound, your baby will be developing muscles for swallowing and will be testing them out. The fetus will also begin to grow fine hair (lanugo) and develop unique fingerprints. You may notice that the yolk sac has disappeared—it’s been absorbed by the fetus for nourishment.

Can you tell the sex of the baby at 14 weeks pregnant?

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 sex are fairly accurate at 14 weeks. By now the baby’s genitalia have developed internally and have become much more distinct externally, but it is common to wait until around to determine the sex of the baby during your anatomy scan ultrasound between 18-20 weeks.

However, your doctor will likely 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. And accuracy continues to increase with gestational age.

Questions to ask during and after your ultrasound appointment

At your 14 weeks ultrasound appointment, the ultrasound technician can’t legally answer questions about what can be seen in your ultrasound or discuss the results of your ultrasound report. The technician will prepare 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 ultrasound technician during your appointment:

  • How long will the appointment last?
  • Can I have someone in the room 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 healthcare practitioner will go over the results of your 14 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 make sure to ask any questions you may have, including this list to get you started.

Questions to ask your practitioner at your follow-up appointment:

  • What are the signs of a healthy pregnancy at 14 weeks? Am I on track?
  • How big is the fetus?
  • Is the heartbeat in the normal range?
  • Do any results require more testing? If so, what kind?
  • What changes to my body or moods will I notice in the next few weeks?
  • When is my next ultrasound?
  • Is there any change to my due date?

How to access or share your 14 weeks pregnant ultrasound images and report

You may be eager to access your 14 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.

Feel empowered throughout your second trimester

Your 14 weeks pregnant ultrasound will track your baby’s development, using biparietal diameter measurements for the remainder of the pregnancy. If you didn’t have an ultrasound between 11 and 13 weeks, your practitioner will also measure nuchal translucency.

Being prepared for your 14 weeks pregnant ultrasound can help you feel comfortable during your appointment and confident when speaking with your practitioner. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you’ll be as you continue through your second trimester.

How PocketHealth works

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

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