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It's your right as a pregnant woman, so our tip: go get your baby checked out. It's also your chance to admire him or her one more time. The 20-week ultrasound is not mandatory, but it is very important. This ultrasound tells you everything about your child's development and whether there are any internal or physical abnormalities. All very exciting, but the check-check-double check is the goal during the 20-week ultrasound. But what do they actually check? You can read the answer to this question and much more in this blog. 

What does a 20-week ultrasound involve?

In difficult words, a structural ultrasound examination. This ultrasound is not compulsory, but every pregnant woman is entitled to it. Besides the fact that your insurance will reimburse for this ultrasound, it is of course nice to see your little one again. The purpose of the 20-week ultrasound is to detect abnormalities. The doctors will look carefully at the development of your baby's organs and growth and check whether there is enough amniotic fluid in the womb. The 20-week ultrasound does not give a 100% guarantee that all abnormalities will be seen. There is a chance that there are still abnormalities, even if the results are good. Pregnant women who are overweight are more likely to have possible abnormalities overlooked (The Obstetrician, 2016). 

What is being checked? 

As mentioned above, the 20-week ultrasound is designed to detect internal and external abnormalities. Such as spina bifida or skull, hydrocephalus, heart defects, rupture or hole in the diaphragm or abdomen, kidney defects and bone development. They also look at your baby's growth and development. The midwife or ultrasound technician will literally check your baby from head to toe. And maybe your baby's gender will become clear, so exciting (Radboud UMC, s.d.)! 

Are there any risks? 

Performing the 20-week ultrasound involves no risks to the mother or child. And often, after an extensive examination and hopefully good news, you'll walk out the door with a big smile and a flurry of love. Unfortunately, every situation is different and you may also find yourself outside with bad news, a lot of headaches and a follow-up appointment (The Obstetrician, 2016). 

Results of the 20-week ultrasound 

You will receive the results immediately after the ultrasound. If there are any abnormalities, you will be well-informed about the follow-up examination and referred to a specialized hospital. In this hospital a more extensive ultrasound scan will be performed and your little one will be examined in more detail. Do know that you are the boss in any decision or advice for an examination, because not all examinations come without risks (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, s.d.).

Follow-up research, and now? 

With a follow-up test, you often have two outcomes. Either it turns out that there is nothing wrong with your baby, or that your baby has an abnormality. If it turns out that your baby has an abnormality, you will always meet with several medical specialists to determine the best solution. For example, a delivery in a specialized hospital so that the care your child needs is available at that time. But some abnormalities also have life-threatening consequences for the mother and child. And then you can suddenly face unethical and difficult issues, such as terminating the pregnancy for the health of all parties (The Midwife, 2016). 

Exciting, but no stress (yet)! 

Most children are born healthy. About 3-4% of children have an abnormality at birth. Do you have questions about the 20-week ultrasound or do you need support regarding the results? Then you can always contact your midwife, family doctor, ultrasound technician or gynecologist (The Midwife, 2016).  


The Midwife. (2016). Information about the 20-week ultrasound. Information about the 20-week ultrasound. Published.

Radboud UMC. (s.d.). What is a 20-week ultrasound? Accessed September 7, 2021, from

National Institute of Public Health and the Environment. (s.d.). 20 week ultrasound | Prenatal and neonatal screenings. Accessed September 7, 2021, from