Around week 20, women attending large maternity units are scheduled for an anatomy or anomaly scan. This scan, often referred to as the ‘big scan’ by women, can potentially identify birth defects, so while it’s ultimately reassuring for most, it can also be a source of anxiety. For many, it’s the day when they find out if they’re having a boy or girl.
Not all birth defects can be detected on the anatomy scan, but 99% of cases of anencephaly, 90% of cases of spina bifida, 85% of major kidney problems and around 20% of major heart problems can be identified.
As we had already had first trimester screening which gave our baby a very low likelihood of being affected by a number of conditions, we weren’t too nervous going in and were looking forward to seeing our baby. My husband had his final exam that day and had to leave about an hour after the given appointment time, so I wasn’t sure if he would get to see anything at all.
It was a pleasant surprised to check in and be called immediately, a few minutes before our appointment time. Aoife, the midwife performing the scan, was warm and welcoming, and took her time to explain everything we could see on the screen and the measurements that she was taking. She also switched to 4D on the machine for a while so that we could see our baby in more detail, and went out of her way to get us a shot where the face wasn’t obscured by a little hand. All was normal, and we decided not to find out the gender. So we’re having our first surprise!
The anatomy scan is not offered in all maternity units – if it is not offered routinely in your unit, you could request it, or alternatively, pay for a private scan. Costs vary, with the average around 150e – unfair that some should have to pay for care that others routinely receive free of charge – another aspect of the maternity care postcode lottery!
The midwife was really home birth supportive and printed off a copy of the results for our own midwife. We’re hoping that will be the last we see of the Coombe, although we are really happy with the care received so far.
So what do you think….girl or boy?