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Ultrasound Examination at 13 and 20 Weeks of Pregnancy (Basics)

Welcome to our guide on the 13 and 20-week pregnancy ultrasounds. If you're expecting, these scans are an exciting and important part of your pregnancy journey. They help check how your baby is growing and developing in the womb. In this guide, we'll walk you through what these ultrasounds are, what they look for, and what you can expect during the scan.


This article is part of our Basics collection! These articles contain only the most important information.


This article is pending medical review.


Written by Sajjad Biglari

Edited by Juliëtte Gossens


FAQs for Parents:

  • Q: Is the ultrasound safe for my baby? A: Yes, ultrasounds are safe. They use sound waves to create images and do not involve any radiation.

  • Q: Can I find out the sex of my baby during these ultrasounds?  A: The 20-week scan can often show the baby's sex, but it's not always 100% accurate.

What to Expect During the Scan:

During the ultrasound, a special gel will be applied to your belly, and a small device, called a transducer, will be moved over your skin. You'll see images of your baby on a screen, and the sonographer will explain what you're looking at. These scans are usually exciting moments for parents as they get a glimpse of their baby!

On the left, you can see a regular ultrasound probe (transducer). This is used on the belly. On the right, you can see a probe that is used for vaginal ultrasounds, which are sometimes necessary to properly see everything. © Freepik.

The 13-Week Scan:

This scan, performed around the 13th week of pregnancy, is a key milestone. It's mainly used to check your baby's development. The sonographer will measure your baby to estimate their age and check for early signs of certain health conditions. This is also the time when you might hear your baby's heartbeat for the first time, which is an exciting moment for many parents!

The 20-Week Scan: 

At around 20 weeks, you'll have a more detailed scan. This is when the sonographer takes a closer look at your baby's organs and body structure, checking everything from the brain and heart to the limbs and spine. It's a thorough check-up to ensure your baby is growing well and to detect any issues that might need attention.

Preparing For Your Ultrasound

You don't need to do much to prepare for these scans. Just come as you are, perhaps with a full bladder as it can sometimes help get a clearer picture in early pregnancy scans. Feel free to bring a partner, friend, or family member for support.

After the Scan - Next Steps

After the scan, the sonographer will tell you about the size, position, and development of your baby. If there are any concerns, they will guide you on the next steps. Remember, these scans are usually routine checks, and most parents get reassuring news.

What If the Scan Shows a Problem? 

Most of the time, these scans will show that your baby is developing just fine. But if there's something that needs further investigation, your healthcare provider will explain what it could mean and what the next steps are. It's important to remember that many issues detected on scans are minor and treatable.

Ethical and Emotional Considerations

Learning about your baby's development can be an emotional experience. It's normal to feel a mix of excitement and anxiety. If you have any concerns or questions, don't hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They are there to support you and to guide you in your decision to have these ultrasounds or not.


For sources supporting the information in this article, please head to our in-depth article on the topic via the button at the top of the article.

Please note: the information we provide to you here is for educational purposes only. If you’re experiencing any discomfort or have any complaints or questions about your health, please contact your doctor or other relevant health professional. We don’t provide medical advice.


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