All About You
Sex and more sex! Remember that unless you've been advised against it by your healthcare provider because of bleeding or risk of miscarriage, sex is fine, a good stress reliever, and a great way to "touch bases" with your partner. Don't feel up to it? That's OK, too. Read Sex and Pregnancy and remember that cuddling is a good thing, too.
You're finally comfortable in your maternity clothes—your protruding baby bump proudly declaring you're going to be a mom, soon. In fact, you're halfway there! By now you're feeling your unborn baby wiggle and kick—which may be caused by your baby experiencing hiccups. Along with your progressing pregnancy, you may also notice more aches and pains. Your lower back and abdomen may be sore from your growing belly. Heartburn, indigestion, and flatulence are frequent as your expanding uterus allows less space for your stomach. Swelling, called edema, may make your hands and feet uncomfortable, too.
The Big Ultrasound
This week you'll get a sneak peak at your unborn baby! At 20 weeks, most physicians request that you receive an ultrasound to determine that your baby-to-be is developing normally, that your due date is accurate, and—if you're interested—whether there are pink or blue baby booties in your future.
Ultrasound is a safe, relatively comfortable procedure that gives physicians more information about your developing baby. An ultrasound technician will apply a topical gel to your abdomen so that the high-frequency sound waves can travel easily through your belly. The technician then moves a transducer, a handheld device that looks something like a grocery store scanner, around your abdomen, sending sound waves as it goes. These waves, once translated through the ultrasound machine, generate a picture. The ultrasound technician will take several measurements of different parts of your unborn baby's body to make sure her development is on track.
Don't be surprised if you're asked to arrive for your ultrasound with a full bladder. A full bladder constricts your baby-to-be's wiggle room, making for easier imaging. But because things are so crowded in there, the ultrasound technician may have to prod your unborn baby into resituating so that all the measurements can be made. With a full bladder and pressure from the transducer on your abdomen, the ultrasound may be slightly unpleasant—but don't worry, the pictures will be worth it!
The ultrasound usually lasts around 30 minutes. Depending on the office where you receive your ultrasound, you may be able to receive a recording of the session or at least several pictures to show off your baby-to-be. Not all lab offices offer recordings of the ultrasound for moms-to-be so call beforehand to check what the lab offers. You can also ask if you can take home a picture or two.
Your baby's gender: In most cases, your ultrasound technician will be able to tell you if you're having a girl or boy. If you don't want to know, tell the technician before you begin so that you don't inadvertently see or hear something you shouldn't. (Try your hand at predicting Baby's gender with our Gender Predictor!)
For those women who do want to know the baby's sex, the results are usually accurate. Usually. The accuracy rates for determining your unborn baby's gender by ultrasound are about 80 to 90 percent. Keep in mind, the ultrasound technician needs to get a clear picture of your unborn baby's "parts" to be certain. For girls, the technician will be looking for three small lines between her legs indicating the female labia. For little boys, the technician will be looking for a developed penis and scrotum. Be forewarned—some babies do not cooperate for this look at their private parts and wiggle and squirm to the point that the technician may not be able to say with any degree of certainty whether you're having a boy or a girl.
Is ultrasound necessary? While the 20-week ultrasound is traditional, it's not necessary. "There's no advantage to performing an ultrasound if a woman's pregnancy is otherwise normal and healthy," explains Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, PhD, CNM. "While it has become standard practice, there's no medical evidence that shows that performing standard ultrasounds improves a baby's outcome." That said, Dr. Bailey points out that most mothers find the ultrasound to be a comfort, getting a chance to finally see their unborn babies. In other countries, such as Japan, many women receive an ultrasound at every office visit, notes Dr. Bailey. This is also the case for many moms experiencing high-risk pregnancies, were trips to the ultrasound technician may occur once or twice each week.