We know that most mums-to-be go into their 20 week scan feeling excited. They know they’ll get a chance to see their baby on screen, maybe get some scan photos, and also (if they want to) find out whether they are expecting a girl or a boy.
Our research also shows that most mums-to-be don’t really know much about what the scan is looking for, or about heart defects. 63% of parents said they weren’t given enough information to understand their 20 week scan before they went to it.
Of the parents we surveyed, a huge 78% said they felt it was vital or very important to ask their sonographer questions about their baby’s heart – but only 21% said they had done so. Almost half of those told us they simply didn’t know what to ask.
Find out how much you know about the 20 week scan by taking part in our Think 20. Think HEART quiz.
The 20 week scan – the fetal anomaly screening that all mums-to-be are offered by the NHS – is the best chance to detect heart defects before the baby is born. But at the moment, only just over half of these life-threatening defects are spotted during pregnancy – and we’re trying to help sonographers and increase that.
Spotting these defects early is important. Research shows it leads to better survival rates and quality of life. And detection during pregnancy means the necessary preparations can be made: the right medical experts can be on hand at birth; treatment can begin as early as possible; and parents-to-be can receive specialist support.
Think 20. Think HEART. is an awareness raising campaign to give every baby’s heart the best possible start.
We want to reach as many pregnant women and new mums as possible, and give them the information they need to protect their ‘tiny ticker’ from the 20-week pregnancy scan and beyond!
Do you know what to expect from your 20-week scan?
In the vast majority of cases, your sonographer will be able to give you the reassurance that your baby’s heart has been thoroughly checked and all looks healthy. If your sonographer does think your baby may have a poorly heart, helping spot it at your scan means you’ll start receiving the care and support you and your baby need from the earliest opportunity.
You’ll know you helped give your baby’s heart the best possible start.
“Knowledge is power. If we hadn’t known about Finn’s heart condition we may not have been so lucky. And that’s exactly what we are – incredibly lucky.”Jess, Finn’s mum
All about your 20 week scan
The main purpose of this scan is to check that your baby is developing normally. It’s commonly known as the 20 week scan, but it’s proper name is the ‘fetal anomaly screening’, because it checks for abnormalities in your baby’s growth – including the heart.
Just like your 12 week dating scan, the 20 weeks scan uses ultrasound, which sends high-frequency sound waves through your uterus. They bounce off your baby and produce an image on a computer screen. Ultrasound is not harmful or invasive to your baby or to you.
Your appointment should take at least 30 minutes as there are a number of different views of your baby that your sonographer will want to check. For example, they will take five different views of your baby’s heart – looking at it at different angles to check all looks well.
Your scan will usually be performed by a sonographer, and sometimes by an obstetrician. Different hospitals have different rules, but you will normally be able to take your partner, or one friend or family member along to the scan. Other children are not usually allowed.
Why your 20 week scan is so important
Your 20 week scan can be a very exciting experience and a great chance to find out more about your baby – including the sex if you choose to find out. But, in terms of screening your baby’s heart, your 20 week scan is absolutely vital.
Detecting heart problems before birth has huge benefits. It allows appropriate care of mum and baby before birth and, if necessary, it allows doctors to plan for a safer delivery in the right place, at the right time, and under the right conditions.
Should a problem be spotted, earlier detection allows parents to learn about their baby’s condition and prepare for whatever treatment and care is needed. Detecting heart defects after birth can be difficult and some conditions can be life-threatening if not treated appropriately as soon as possible. Research shows early detection increases the baby’s survival chances and helps their long-term quality of life – so, if a baby has a heart problem, the sooner it is spotted the better. That’s why Tiny Tickers works so hard to improve detection rates.
Help us spread the word
Could you tell any expectant parents you know about Think 20? Could you put a poster in your local nursery, play centre or GP surgery? Thank you for helping us tell more parents-to-be about Think 20!
Download our Think 20 poster to display wherever you can.