What happens at your 12-week scan? (2023)

Towards the end of your first trimester, as soon as you reach 12 weeks pregnant, you'll be invited for your 12-week scan. This is probably the first time you'll be able to clap your eyes on yourbaby as well as being the first of many pregnancy scans. It’s also the most exciting pregnancy milestone yet!

This milestone scan will show you a 2D image of your baby usinghigh-frequency sound wavesfrom a probe over your tummy, allowing you to get the first glimpse of your baby.It's sometimes called a dating scan, as this scan will be able to tell you the gestational age and when their due date will be.

So what exactly can you expect from your 12-weekultrasound?

When will I be offered my first pregnancy scan?

The NHS offers all pregnant women an ultrasound scan between 10 weeks pregnant and 14 weeks pregnant which usually ends up taking place at 12 weeks.

You will get a hospital appointment with a sonographer for your scan by letter. In the letter, there will be instructions on where to go and what is required.

The 2D image from the scan allows thesonographer to see your baby and work out baby's gestational age and when they're due, so you'll be given an idea of baby's due datewhich is why it is often called a dating scan!

You can see all their organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place, and the sex organs are well developed too.

Do I have to have a scan?

When you first find out you are pregnant, your midwife or GP will provide you with information about all the screening tests offered during pregnancy and what they are for which should help you decide whether you want the scan or not.

(Video) What happens at a scan and what will they tell me? | NHS

The majority of women are excited to have their scan but if you are concerned, do speak with your GP or midwife as they may be able to offer alternative options such as a handheld doppler.

What does the 12-week scan reveal?

The 12-week scan is the first in-depth look at your growing baby and assesses the early development in the womb. Here's what else you should learn:

Due date - Although you may already have a pretty good idea of roughly when you'll be meeting your baby, at your 12 weeks pregnant ultrasound you'll officially be given a due date. Eek! "The Crown Rump Length (CRL) is measured to check the date of the pregnancy and make sure it is in the 45 to 84mm range," explains Dean Meredith,a Sonographer at The Portland Hospital, London. Can't wait? Try our pregnancy due date calculator.

How many babies you're having - Yep, you'll be finding out just how many babies are growing away in there.

The heartbeat- Understandably one of the most nerve-wracking parts for any parents-to-be.

Detect anyanomalies- Your sonographer will make sure everything will be developing as it should. 'This includes the skull, the brain, the umbilical cord,the limb, the heart, stomach, bowel, pelvis, and bladder,’ says Dean.

Your baby's NT or nuchal translucency - Alsocalled a combined test, this is a specialised routine ultrasound performed at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.The nuchal translucency measures the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck, combined with a blood test,and gives you an indicationof the possibility ofDown’s syndrome.

"Current guidelines for the 12-week scan is that it is undertaken alongside the Nuchal scan or Down’s screening," says Dean. You will not be offered the combined screening test if your dating scan happens after 14 weeks. Instead, you'll be offered another blood test between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy to screen for your chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome. This test is not quite as accurate as the combined test.

Show the placenta positioning - The 12-week scan will also check the location of your placenta to ensure placenta praevia is not a concern.

(Video) What to Expect At Your 12 Week Baby Scan? Dublin, Ireland.

Watch Mother&Baby editor Maria Martin attend her 12-week scan below:

Who can go with me?

You'll need to decide who you want to take to your scan. In most cases, you'll want your partner with you but if this isn't the case, consider taking a friend or family member. The support is invaluable.It is not recommended children attend the scan but do speak to the hospital if you are unable to sort childcare.

Getting ready for your 12-week scan

First things first, keep those nerves in check. We know how exciting and terrifying the whole thing is that you'll finally find out an estimated date of delivery, but too much anxiety and you’ll be jumping off the bed as soon as the gel touches your belly (it’s very cold!).

In order to create a clear view of your baby, it’s worth having a full bladder and drinking a pint of water an hour before the scan. "This pushes the uterus into a better position so we can see the baby more easily," says Dean. But don’t overdo it – we all know how often you need to peethese days.

What happens during the 12-week scan?

• You'll first be invited into a private room and asked to lie down on the bed.

• The sonographer will then ask you to expose your little bump so it's a good idea to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to pull up.

• The sonographer will put some gel on your tummy and will move a hand-heldtransducer device over your skin. The gel makes sure there is good contact between your skin and the device. The sonographer will tuck tissue paper around you to protect your clothing from the gel.

• A black and white image of your baby will appear on the ultrasound screen, which the sonographer will position so they get a good view.

(Video) My 12 week scan appointment

• You will feel some pressure, but it shouldn’t be painful.

• You might be offered an internal vaginal examination instead, if your womb is sitting very deep in your pelvis, or if you are overweight. This type of scan will allow the sonographer to get closer to your baby.

What happens at your 12-week scan? (1)

Will I find out the sexof my baby at 12 weeks?

The 12-week scan is usually just about determining whether your baby is healthy and growing as they should be. Although the sex organs are well developed, it's usually too soon to see them at 12 weeks and you'll probably have to wait until the anomaly (or 20 week) scan.

Some people however believe in the nub theory, which suggests you can determine the gender of your baby from that first ultrasound photo by looking out for the angle of the genital nub on your baby. If it is angled away from the body it indicates you're having a boy and if it is horizontal to the spinal cordit indicatesyou're having a girl.Other mums try the Chinese Gender Predictorto predict the sex. Alternatively, what about trying out skull theory?

How long will the scan take?

12-week scans normally take between 15 and 30 minutes, but it might take longer if your baby is lying in an awkward position.If the sonographer is unable to see what they need to, a repeat scan may be booked for another day.

(Video) Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound 12 Weeks Pregnant

What happens at your 12-week scan? (2)

What happens if a problem is found at the 12-week scan?

The 12-week scan is the first opportunity for your baby to be examined for any abnormalities that could indicate a problem with his development. That is unless you have had an early scan at 8 weeks.

If a problem is spotted you’ll be referredto a fetal medicine consultant for confirmation of the findings with a view to undergo further testing and recommendations for the remainder of the pregnancy.

There’s no evidence to suggest scans offer any risk to your pregnancy and offer you those first precious glimpses of your unborn baby and give you the peace of mind that your baby’s development is as it should be.

If there are no abnormalities spotted, you should get the results straight after the scan.

Some scans may not be successful, and thesonographer may not be able to gather enough information if your baby is lying in an awkward position, if you're overweight, or if you haven't been able to drink enough water to give yourself a full bladder. In this case, try not to worry. Your scan may be rebooked to gather more information on a different day.

(Video) 12 WEEK ULTRASOUND VLOG | What happens at the 12 week scan

When will the next scan be?

After your 12-week scan, your next ultrasound probably won't be until you're 20 weeks pregnant when you have your anomaly scan. This can also be a chance to find out if you're having a boy or girl if you choose to know.

You may also like to start thinking about if you might like a 4D scan in the future.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us


What can I expect at my 12 week ultrasound? ›

The 12-week ultrasound scan: what it's for

checks that your baby is growing inside the womb. checks that your baby is developing as expected. screens your baby for chromosomal anomalies. shows how many babies you have.

How common are problems at 12 week scan? ›

How Common is a Missed Miscarriage at 12 week scan? Miscarriages happen in roughly 10-25% of confirmed pregnancies. Missed miscarriages only occur in about 1-5% of pregnancies, so they are not exceptionally common.

Can they tell you gender at 12 week scan? ›

The MFM said while ultrasound was 90 percent accurate in predicting gender at 12 weeks, and she and the sonographer were fairly confident in their prediction, we should wait until our 20-week anatomy ultrasound to be sure.

How long does a 12 week scan appointment take? ›

Important things to know. This ultrasound scan is best performed between 12 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days gestation. The scan usually takes 45 minutes depending on the position of the baby.

What should I wear to my 12-week scan? ›

This is usually the best way to get pictures of your baby if you have the scan before 11 weeks. In order to prepare for this type of pregnancy scan you should: Wear clothes that are easy to remove from your lower half or a loose skirt/dress that you can lift up.

What bad news can you get at 12-week scan? ›

Your 12-week ultrasound scan is the 1st of the 2 routine pregnancy scans you're offered on the NHS.
If your scan picks up anything of concern, this might include:
  • Missed miscarriage. ...
  • A developmental concern. ...
  • Low-lying placenta. ...
  • A raised NT score.
May 14, 2021

What week is the highest risk of miscarriage? ›

Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks, known as early pregnancy. Many miscarriages in the first trimester are caused by chromosomal abnormalities (problems in development) in the baby but it is thought that around half have underlying causes.

What are the signs of Down syndrome 12 week scan? ›

Babies with Down's syndrome are more likely to have a small or absent nose bone, with a flat profile. They often have leakage across the tricuspid valve and reverse flow in the ductus venosus. So adding in these additional markers will take the average detection rate of the standard technique of 80% up to 95%.

What does a 12 week old baby look like in the womb? ›

Your baby is about 6cm long — about the size of a plum – and weighs about 18g. The fetus has almost doubled in size in the past 4 weeks and is now fully formed, with all of the organs, muscles, limbs and bones in place. At this point, your baby fills your whole uterus. The head is about half the length of the body.

How early can you feel flutters? ›

Quickening is when a pregnant person starts to feel their baby's movement in their uterus (womb). It feels like flutters, bubbles or tiny pulses. Quickening happens around 16 to 20 weeks in pregnancy, but some people may feel it sooner or later.

How big are 12 week bumps? ›

Your Body and Bump at 12 Weeks Pregnant

By three months pregnant, you may have a small baby bump. However, it is still normal not to be showing at this stage. At 12 weeks, while your baby is the size of a lime, your womb is approximately grapefruit-sized and growing.

Can you eat before a 12 week scan? ›

Most doctors recommend a healthy and light meal before an ultrasound. It means avoiding anything that could cause indigestion or discomfort and anything high in fat or sugar.

Do I need to drink water before 12 week scan? ›

You don't need a full bladder before the mid-pregnancy screening scan, but drinking a glass or two of water will help the sonographer.

Which gender is easier to see on ultrasound? ›

Even as a fetus, baby boys can and will have erections. If you happen to be looking with ultrasound during that time, you will see a very clearly defined penis. This obviously makes identifying a baby boy much easier.

Do you have a bump at 12 weeks? ›

At 12 weeks, your baby bump may be more pronounced and may even show to the outside world. But it's just as likely that while your clothes may be getting a little tight, you won't yet have a noticeably pregnant belly at this point.

Should I tell people after 12 week scan? ›

There's no right or wrong time to tell people you're pregnant. It's up to you to decide what's best for you and, if you have a partner, you may want to decide together. Some people choose to wait until after they've had the first ultrasound scan. It's your baby, so it's up to you.

What fruit is not good for pregnancy? ›

Fruits to Avoid During Pregnancy Diet
  • Papaya – It tops the list for obvious reasons. ...
  • Pineapple – These are also not recommended to the pregnant women as they contain certain enzymes that alters the texture of cervix which could induce premature contractions. ...
  • Grapes –

Why is it safe to announce pregnancy at 12 weeks? ›

Announcing a Pregnancy at 12 Weeks

The risk of miscarriage drops dramatically by 12 weeks for all age groups of expectant parents, meaning many moms- and dads-to-be feel more confident they have a viable pregnancy to announce once they cross this threshold.

Why do most miscarriages occur before 12 weeks? ›

Early in pregnancy, genetic issues are a major cause of miscarriage. Around 80% of pregnancy losses occur during the first trimester, which is between 0 and 13 weeks. Although the loss is often devastating, these genetic issues mean that the baby could not have survived outside the womb.

What foods prevent Down syndrome? ›

Preventing Birth Defects
  • Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. ...
  • Foods with folic acid include : okra, pinto beans, navy beans, mustard green s, kale, spinach, chicken liver, beef liver, orange juice, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, green peas, cauliflower, tomato juice, peanuts, and cantaloupe.

What increases your chances of having a baby with Down syndrome? ›

Advancing maternal age.

A woman's chances of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increase with age because older eggs have a greater risk of improper chromosome division. A woman's risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome increases after 35 years of age.

What week is baby gender developed? ›

Your baby's sex is set at conception by chromosomes from both parents, but male and female sex organs look the same until about 11 weeks. The baby's urinary system is developing at the same time nearby, and you can see the kidneys, bladder, and baby's genitalia during the anatomy ultrasound scan at about 20 weeks.

Can your baby feel you rub your belly at 12 weeks? ›

In the first trimester, the baby is deep inside your abdomen and surrounded by a lot of amniotic fluid. Her body is tiny and still developing, so it's unlikely she has any awareness of the outside yet. However, big changes happen in the second trimester, which allows your little one to feel touch and respond to it.

What do flutters feel like at 12 weeks? ›

12 to 15 weeks

"It feels like butterflies fluttering across the bottom of my tummy." "Like a tiny machine gun blowing bubbles." "I feel like someone is flicking me with their finger from inside my womb."

Can your baby feel your emotions at 12 weeks? ›

Research has shown that, during pregnancy, your baby feels what you feel—and with the same intensity. That means if you're crying, your baby feels the same emotion, as if it's their own. During the gestational period, your baby is preparing themselves for life in the outside world.

What time is fetus most active? ›

Babies tend to move more at certain times of the day as they alternate between alertness and sleep. They are usually most active between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., right as you're trying to get to sleep. This surge in activity is due to your changing blood sugar levels.

When can my baby feel me touch my belly? ›

Sensation. After around 18 weeks, babies like to sleep in the womb while their mother is awake, since movement can rock them to sleep. They can feel pain at 22 weeks, and at 26 weeks they can move in response to a hand being rubbed on the mother's belly.

What do babies do in the womb all day? ›

Just like newborns, fetuses spend most of their time sleeping. Indeed, throughout much of the pregnancy, your baby sleeps 90 to 95% of the day. Some of these hours are spent in deep sleep, some in REM sleep, and some in an indeterminate state—a result of their immature brain.

When do first time moms start showing? ›

When do you start showing in pregnancy? First-time moms usually start showing sometime between 12 and 18 weeks. In a BabyCenter poll, most women expecting their first child said they started to show between 12 and 18 weeks, very closely followed by those who said that their bump emerged between 18 and 24 weeks.

Where is the baby in your belly at 12 weeks? ›

Your Body at 12 Weeks of Pregnancy

It rises up into the area of the abdomen, as shown in the image. The fundus, the upper end of the uterus, is just above the top of the symphysis where the pubic bones join together.

What not to do before pregnancy ultrasound? ›

There's no special preparation for an ultrasound. Some pregnancy care providers ask that you come with a full bladder and don't use the restroom before the test. This helps them view your baby better on the ultrasound.

What are the 3 lines on girl ultrasound? ›

The three white lines—which are actually the labia with the clitoris in the middle—can resemble two buns and the meat of a hamburger. This image is more easily defined as you can see the baby's thighs, too. These landmarks make it easier to tell what you are looking at, particularly when it is a photo and not a video.

How many ultrasounds do you have during pregnancy? ›

Most healthy women receive two ultrasound scans during pregnancy. "The first is, ideally, in the first trimester to confirm the due date, and the second is at 18-22 weeks to confirm normal anatomy and the sex of the baby," explains Mendiola.

What to expect at 12 weeks? ›

Your baby is about 6 cm long from head to bottom and weighs about 18 gm. The kidneys are working, and the baby can pass urine and swallow amniotic fluid. Your baby's chest rises and falls, practising breathing movements. The digestive system is also in test mode.

Do you hear the heartbeat at 12 week ultrasound? ›

After around five and a half to six weeks gestation, a vaginal ultrasound can pick up a baby's heartbeat. A few weeks later, at 10 to 12 weeks into pregnancy, a handheld ultrasound device known as a fetal Doppler can be used to hear a baby's heartbeat. Hearing the heartbeat for the first time is, in a word, thrilling.

Do babies move a lot at 12 weeks ultrasound? ›

Of course, at 12 weeks gestation it is too early for a pregnant mother to be aware of her baby moving. It can be a strange sensation when looking at the monitor and seeing movement but not being able to physically detect it.

Why do doctors wait until 12 weeks for ultrasound? ›

"Later on between that 11 and 14 weeks, we are actually measuring the thickness on the back of the baby's neck, that's called a nuchal translucency measurement," Barnes said. "That is increased in things like down syndrome and at the 20-week scan we're looking at everything.

Can I eat before 12 week scan? ›

Most doctors recommend a healthy and light meal before an ultrasound. It means avoiding anything that could cause indigestion or discomfort and anything high in fat or sugar.

What are the signs of Down syndrome on 12 week ultrasound? ›

Babies with Down's syndrome are more likely to have a small or absent nose bone, with a flat profile. They often have leakage across the tricuspid valve and reverse flow in the ductus venosus. So adding in these additional markers will take the average detection rate of the standard technique of 80% up to 95%.

Can my baby feel me touch my stomach at 12 weeks? ›

In the first trimester, the baby is deep inside your abdomen and surrounded by a lot of amniotic fluid. Her body is tiny and still developing, so it's unlikely she has any awareness of the outside yet. However, big changes happen in the second trimester, which allows your little one to feel touch and respond to it.

What should not be at 12 weeks? ›

The median NT thickness for GA were 1.0 mm, 1.2 mm, and 1.4 mm for gestational age of 11 weeks, 12 weeks, and 13 weeks, respectively, and the 95th percentiles of NT thickness were 1.8, 1.9, and 2.2 for gestational age of 11 weeks, 12 weeks, and 13 weeks, respectively.

Can you feel little flutters at 12 weeks? ›

Just 12 weeks after your last period, the foetus is fully formed. All the organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place, and the sex organs are well developed. From now on, the baby has to grow and mature. It's too early for you to be able to feel the baby's movements yet, although they'll be moving quite a bit.


1. 12 Week Ultrasound / Dating Scan in the UK.
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2. 12 Week Pregnant Ultrasound | Plus First Trimester Screening and Symptoms.
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(Sarah - This Mama Life)
4. How Your Baby is Developing at 12th Week of Pregnancy Part 2
5. 12 Week Scan & 16 Week Midwife Appointment // First Time Pregnancy // Heartbeat Appointment
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6. NT Scan Report in Hindi | प्रेग्नेंसी अल्ट्रासाउंड रिपोर्ट कैसे पड़े | How to Read NT Scan Boy/Girl
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