What is a Growth Scan?
A growth scan or a fetal wellbeing scan is taken between the 23rd and 40th weeks of gestation. It is a standard procedure done to check the baby’s development inside the womb and the amniotic fluid level in the uterus.
During the growth scan, the doctor checks for the position of the baby to decide on the mode of delivery (vaginal birth or c-section).
How should you prepare for a Growth Scan?
There is no need for any pre-preparation for a well-being scan. You need to visit your doctor on the prescribed day of the scan.
This is a non-invasive ultrasound scan where the doctor or fetal medicine expert will ask you to lie on a couch and apply gel to your abdomen. After this, they will move an ultrasound probe over your abdomen to get a black and white 2D image of your baby on the scan monitor.
Baby’ Weight :
During your 32 weeks wellbeing scan, various fetus measurements are taken and plotted on a graph.
This graph maps the gestational age at the scan against your baby’s weight. This helps the doctor study if the baby is growing at an adequate rate.
If you have your growth scan around 32weeks of pregnancy, you can expect your baby to be standing on his head (head-position position). As mothers move towards their due date, most babies move into this position as this is favourable for delivery.
Remember, your little kicker will constantly change their position until the time of labor.
Amniotic Fluid :
Amniotic fluid is a clear, slightly yellowish fluid surrounding the baby within the first 12 days after conception.
The level of this fluid varies with the gestation age and is expected to be at a certain level at the time of delivery. Reduction in the amniotic fluid causes certain complications, and a growth scan ensures that your uterus has the right amount to keep your baby safe for delivery.
What happens in a growth scan?
Apart from the three important findings mentioned above, some other observations are done during your wellbeing scan.
Your doctor checks for the,
- Placental position or maturity
- Baby’s movements
- Baby’s breathing pattern
- Structural anatomy
- Blood flow in the umbilical cord with a doppler ultrasound
How do you estimate a baby’s weight during a growth scan?
Estimating the weight of the fetus is a routine procedure done during the ultrasound scans.
There are four parameters studied in your fetal wellbeing scan (growth scan) that helps your doctor to jot out the baby’s weight.
Once your pregnancy reaches its mid-phase, these factors are taken into account to determine your baby’s weight.
Despite this, it is important to monitor the baby’s growth even during the first trimester, and a CRL measurement helps your doctor in this diagnosis.
When Should You Have A Growth Scan?
You do not need any specific medical condition to get a growth scan. Nowadays, a standard pregnancy scan protocol has a growth scan covered during the third trimester. It is mandatory to check for the baby’s development and sufficient fluid level inside before delivery.
However, a fetal growth scan becomes a vital if,
- Your baby appears small/large than expected during the previous scans
- You have a high-risk pregnancy
- You are diagnosed with a low-lying placenta
- You had problems in past pregnancies
- You feel any abnormal baby movements
Are there signs to check for Reduced Fetal Movement?
Once your little acrobat starts to kick inside, your doctor will suggest methods for monitoring the baby’s movement at a regular pace.
You should pay more attention to this during the final stages of your pregnancy since many factors can reduce fetal movement.
Discuss this with your doctor to get a clear idea.
Abnormalities during monitoring should be immediately informed to your doctor so that they can do a biophysical profile study for your baby.
What is a Biophysical Profile study?
A biophysical study is an ultrasound examination of your fetus’s well-being accompanied by a fetal heart rate measurement.
What Can Affect A Fetal’s Growth?
Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) is a condition in which the baby has a reduced growth than expected for the gestation. FGR can begin at any stage of pregnancy and can lead to a small size or low weighing baby during delivery.
It is always not necessary for a baby who is small born to carry a health-related issue. They might look small at birth but will be healthy and back to normal in time.
For some babies, FGR affects the overall size of the baby and the growth of its tissues, organs, and cells.
When Does The Growth scan reveal a SMALL baby?
Small for Gestational Age (SGA):
If your baby is measured as small (smaller growth than expected at the time of the scan), it is called Small for Gestation Age (SGA). These babies have an average head size but a trimmed abdomen.
The growth of the baby is a percentile calculation plotted on a chart. If the chart places your baby’s weight below the 10th percentile (or below the 10% line on the graph), your baby is considered small for gestational age.
Why does SGA happen?
An unborn with SGA undergoes a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). This happens because the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrients needed for growth. IUGR can happen any time during the pregnancy.
When does the growth scan reveal a LARGE baby?
Large for Gestational Age (LGA):
These babies weigh more than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy.
The growth scan chart places your baby’s weight above the 90th percentile if it is large for the gestational age. Most of these babies have an average head size and a prominent abdomen.
Why does LGA happen?
Excessive weight gain of the fetus leads to weight gain during delivery.
What are anomalies in Fetal Growth Scan monitored?
Some general management measures are recommended for mothers who have some abnormalities in their growth scan reports. This includes treatment for maternal diseases, steps to reduce diabetes, intake of nutritional food, and adequate rest.
- Tests recommended for fetal growth anomalies
- Ultrasound scan to check for anomalies
- Maternal blood test to check infection
- Testing for chromosomal abnormalities
If your doctor diagnoses a high-risk pregnancy or growth restricted baby, you will be suggested to have some repeated observations like,
- Growth scans at regular intervals
- Nonstress test (NST) to monitor Fetal heart rate
- Umbilical blood flow using doppler scans
- Amniotic fluid volume check
You must not miss any of the tests or recommendations from your doctor to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy. Stay on top of the signs that can harm your baby, and keep your doctor informed.