Are you excited to catch a glimpse of your little one during the third trimester?
A growth scan, also known as a baby wellbeing or reassurance scan, offers just that.
This non-invasive ultrasound measures your baby’s size and overall health, providing vital information about their growth and development.
Whether you’re experiencing a smooth pregnancy or have concerns, a growth scan can offer peace of mind and an opportunity to connect with your baby.
Imagine watching as they stretch, kick, and roll around in the womb. These precious images will be treasured for a lifetime.
This article will cover what to expect during a growth scan, what the results may reveal, and what to do next. Let’s get started.
What is a growth scan?
A baby growth ultrasound evaluates your baby’s development during the last trimester. It measures your little one’s growth and progress.
This scan is usually performed between weeks 24 and 40 of your pregnancy journey and can provide important information about your baby’s size and overall health.
It’s not typically offered on the NHS but may be recommended for parents-to-be who have had a history of premature delivery, gestational diabetes, or other health concerns that could affect the baby.
Please reach out if you are unsure whether you are eligible for a growth ultrasound. Our friendly team would be more than happy to help.
While the scan is a great way to check in on your baby, it’s not a standalone diagnostic tool and won’t detect all potential problems.
Instead, it’s an added reassurance for parents and an opportunity to bond with their little one.
What to expect
During a growth scan, you will lie down on an examination table or bed, and a special gel will be applied to your abdomen and pelvic area.
This gel is water-based, so it shouldn’t leave any stains on your clothing or skin. The gel ensures the sound waves move properly and produce clear images of your baby.
Next, a small wand, called a transducer, will be used to capture images of your baby, which will be displayed on the ultrasound screen.
Your specialist will move the transducer around the gel area to view different angles of your baby.
They may ask you to shift positions or hold your breath while they capture images to ensure they get the best possible look.
The scan is performed externally and transabdominally and is entirely painless and safe for both you and your baby. It usually takes around 30-45 minutes to complete.
During the growth scan, your specialist will examine and measure several different aspects of your baby’s growth and development, including:
- The circumference of your baby’s head
- The circumference of your baby’s abdomen
- The length of your baby’s thigh bone (femur)
- The amount of amniotic fluid around your baby
- Your baby’s position and movements in the womb
- The position and maturity of your placenta
Using growth charts and measuring your baby’s size against the number of weeks in pregnancy, your specialist can assess your baby’s development.
They will also provide an estimated foetal weight.
What Essential Body Parts Are Checked During a Growth Scan?
In addition, during the scan, several essential body parts are checked to ensure everything is developing as it should.
Here are a few of the most important things your specialist will be looking at:
- During the growth ultrasound, your doctor will examine your baby’s brain to ensure it’s growing as it should be. This is crucial, as the brain acts as the control centre of the body, guiding all other bodily functions.
- The heart is one of the first things to form in the womb, so it’s important to check for any anomalies during your ultrasound scan. Your specialist will examine the heart’s size, shape, and rhythm, ensuring it works properly to pump blood throughout the body.
- To ensure your baby is breathing smoothly, your doctor will check the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for inhaling and exhaling air. They’ll check its size and position to ensure it’s within normal limits, so your baby can take those first breaths with ease.
- The stomach plays a vital role in your baby’s growth, acting as the first food processor. Your specialist will examine the stomach’s size and position to ensure it’s functioning normally.
- The kidneys are an essential part of the body’s waste removal system. Your specialist will examine their size and position during the ultrasound scan, making sure they’re developing correctly to keep your baby’s blood clean and healthy.
- The bladder is vital for holding urine and ensuring proper elimination of waste. Your doctor will check its size and location.
Comprehensive Growth Scans for Your Baby’s Well-Being and Peace of Mind
We also check for an Ebstein heart anomaly – a rare congenital heart defect in which the tricuspid valve forms abnormally.
Although this condition can be difficult to detect until the third trimester, growth ultrasound scans can help identify it early on.
Sometimes, a more detailed examination is needed. Your specialist may check your baby’s limbs and fluid spaces within the head and perform
Doppler measurements to confirm blood flow. Doppler ultrasound is a special type of imaging that employs sound waves to visualise blood moving through blood vessels.
It is based on the Doppler effect, where sound waves are reflected off moving objects, such as red blood cells, to measure their velocity.
If your baby’s measurements are within the expected range, they will likely be average-sized.
However, your specialist may request further testing if your baby is tracking small or larger.
This may include additional growth scans or amniocentesis to check for chromosomal abnormalities.
It’s important to remember that every baby grows at their own pace, and there can be significant variations in growth from week to week.
Your healthcare team will take all this into account when evaluating your baby’s development.
During the growth scan, you will see your baby on the screen and watch as they move around in the womb.
It’s a special moment for many expecting parents and can provide a sense of reassurance and comfort.
After the scan, your specialist will go over the results with you, answering any questions you may have and providing guidance on any next steps that may be necessary.
What might you find in a growth ultrasound?
Growth scans are about assessing the overall wellbeing of your baby.
Your specialist will look for potential issues or abnormalities that may affect your baby’s health.
A growth ultrasound may reveal that your baby is growing as expected and falls within the average range.
This is a reassuring outcome and could mean no further testing or monitoring is required.
If your baby is smaller than expected, it may be a sign of small for gestational age (SGA).
This can be caused by various factors, such as problems with the placenta or disease in the pregnant person.
SGA can heighten risks during pregnancy, birth, and beyond, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on your baby’s development through regular growth scans.
On the other hand, if your baby is larger than expected, it may be a sign of large for gestational age (LGA).
This can be caused by hereditary factors, weight gain during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes. LGA babies are at a higher risk of long and challenging deliveries, injuries at birth, and complications related to gestational diabetes.
Every pregnancy is unique, and your specialist will work with you to address any concerns or issues that may arise during your growth scan.
The most important thing is to ensure the health and wellbeing of you and your baby.
What do the results look like?
Rest assured that you will receive the results of your baby’s growth scan immediately following your appointment.
A detailed report will be sent directly to your email for your convenience and peace of mind.
When you receive your growth ultrasound results, you may see images of your baby.
These images will show different parts of your baby’s body, such as the head, abdomen, and thigh bone, as well as the placenta and amniotic fluid.
Your specialist will measure these different parts to assess your baby’s growth and development.
You might also be able to see your baby’s movement and their position inside the womb.
Keep in mind that ultrasound images can be affected by your baby’s position, so not all measurements may be completely accurate.
In addition, these images are snapshots in time, and babies tend to grow and develop quickly in the last trimester of pregnancy.
However, ultrasounds are still a safe and effective way to monitor your baby’s growth and overall wellbeing.
After your growth ultrasound, you should listen to the advice of your specialist and ask any questions you may have.
Depending on your results, you may need to schedule follow-up appointments or additional tests.
But in general, there’s no specific care required after the exam, and you can continue with your regular daily activities.
Finally, remember that even if the results of your growth scan fall outside the average range, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your baby.
Your specialist will work with you to ensure that you and your baby are healthy and safe throughout your pregnancy, birth, and into the future.
Schedule your private growth scan today
A growth scan is a safe and non-invasive way to check your baby’s growth and development during the third trimester of pregnancy.
In addition, the images captured offer a special moment for expecting parents. It’s an opportunity to bond with your little one and watch as they move around in the womb.