Pregnancy 101: Weeks 17 to 20

February 13, 2020 Emma Waterhouse

Blue, Pink Or Green?

Which team are you?

Yes, it’s gender scan time! Or, as it’s properly called, the mid-pregnancy anatomy scan, which is usually carried out at around 20 weeks gestation. The purpose of this ultrasound — which may be your last chance to get a sneak peek at your little passenger before you meet them for real in a few months’ time — is to carry out a detailed examination of your baby’s body, in order to check that everything is developing as it should.

Need To Know

During this routine examination, your sonographer will take measurements and methodically work his or her way through your baby’s body, paying special attention to the brain, spine, heart and face to rule out anatomical abnormalities like spinal cord defects, heart problems, or cleft lip and palate. Don’t worry: these are relatively rare conditions and, in many cases, treatable.

The sonographer will also look at your uterus, placenta and amniotic fluid to check that everything is functioning normally. In about 2% of pregnancies, a condition called placenta previa is detected at this scan, which means that the placenta is attached very low down in the uterus, covering or partially covering the entrance to the cervix. In some cases, this condition resolves itself as the pregnancy progresses (you will have a follow-up scan or scans to confirm this), but in other cases you may require a Caesarian section if the placenta remains low.

Because of the detailed nature of the examination that will be carried out, you can expect the mid-pregnancy ultrasound to take up to an hour. As with your 12 week scan, you will need a full bladder.

Your baby’s genitals are now developed enough for the sonographer to be able to tell you whether you’re expecting a baby boy or girl at this scan; be sure to tell them straight away if you don’t want to know! Remember that they cannot be 100% certain — we’ve all heard stories of gender surprises at birth (so it might be worth keeping one or two “just in case” names in your back pocket!)

Good To Have

Now that you’re approaching the halfway point in your pregnancy, you’ll have noticed that your breasts have grown a lot bigger and fuller. You may even experience some leaking: breasts start producing colostrum — the thicker, yellowish “first milk” — at around 14 weeks. A supportive maternity or nursing bra is a must during the final months of pregnancy, to provide comfort and to protect your back.

You may be extra-tired during pregnancy, but sleep isn’t always easy to come by, especially if you’re used to sleeping on your back or front. Try using a pregnancy pillow for additional support: they come in various shapes and sizes and can help you settle into a comfortable side-sleeping position, which is best for you and baby.

Time To Do

Have you thought yet about where you’d like to have your baby? Your options will depend on where you live and whether your pregnancy is classed as low- or high-risk, but it’s well worth thinking early about the type of birth you’d like to have. You may even be able to schedule a tour of your preferred maternity unit(s) for a few weeks before your baby’s due date.

Many couples choose to have some kind of gender-reveal celebration if they do decide to find out the sex at the 20 week scan. Whether you want to go all out on a themed party for friends and family, or arrange a private reveal just for the two of you, now’s the time to get planning!

The Rise And Rise Of Gender-Neutral Naming

Unisex baby names: do you have any on your list?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re Team Blue, Pink or Green: gender-neutral names can be a great way to think outside the baby-naming box and find a unique name with meaning for your child. They’re also bang on trend: 60% more American babies received a gender-neutral name in 2015 than in 2005, with some of the past decade’s fastest-rising baby names — like Harlow, Henley and Royalty — firmly in the unisex camp.

Take a look at these blog posts on the most popular Post-Gender Baby Names and Unique Unisex Middle Names for more inspiration.

Go to Weeks 21 to 24.

Return to Pregnancy 101 home page.

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at

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