What to know about your second trimester ultrasound

by Kaiser Permanente |
Female doctor pointing to ultrasound picture with pregnant woman.

As you near the halfway mark of your pregnancy, it’s likely you’ll have a second trimester fetal ultrasound. Also called an anatomy scan, it lets clinicians see inside your uterus and make sure your baby is developing the way it should.

Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of your baby. After applying a thin layer of gel, a technician gently presses a handheld device called a transducer against your belly. They will move it around a bit to get a better view. You’ll be able to see your baby during the scan.

This scan is done for several reasons:

  • To screen for major birth defects, such as heart problems
  • To get an idea of the baby's growth
  • To see your baby, the placenta, and the fluid around your baby

Although the scan can detect some issues, it can’t identify everything. Your clinician will review the results with you by email or at your next appointment. They will tell you if more testing is needed.

Your partner or support person should be able to come with you to most ultrasound appointments. This gives you both a chance to see the baby. In many cases, you’ll be able to learn what sex your baby is, if you want to know.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.