Updated: Oct 12
Ultrasound is a wonderful thing. Since the beginning of time, expecting mothers have wondered how their baby is growing inside them. With the magic of sound frequency waves, we’re lucky enough in the modern day to be able to take a look at the womb and peek at who’s inside. Even if they want to play hide and seek.
However, just like pregnancy itself, ultrasounds can be mysterious at times. Ultrasound technology has advanced greatly over time and ultra-detailed images can be created of your unborn baby, even in 4D! But there can still be times when it isn’t as easy to see your little one.
Although it’s rare, there’s the possibility that a baby can ‘hide’ on an ultrasound. As you progress further through your pregnancy, the images will become clearer and more accurate. If you don’t see the baby in a scan, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not there. Alternatively, if you can only see one baby, there may be the possibility that another is just out of sight! Keep reading to find out how a baby might be camera shy.
How do ultrasounds work?
Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to create an image. You can’t hear these waves, but they work by reflecting off objects they encounter. This creates a detailed image of what’s hidden inside a body. The baby’s form will bounce back from your womb when the ultrasound reaches it, forming a picture called a sonogram.
Do Ultrasounds always show babies?
Ultrasounds are extremely helpful pieces of technology and have a range of medical uses aside from pre-natal imaging. They are used to look for things like kidney stones and blood clots that can’t be seen externally.
But even pregnancy scans won’t always show a baby. Although it’s rare, there are occasions when a pregnant woman won’t be able to see the fetus in her sonogram. Most often, this is because it’s too early in the pregnancy for the baby to be visible. However, it might also be that you’re having an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that’s outside the womb) or have unfortunately had a miscarriage. This is a difficult outcome to think about, but in these cases, you might want to check in with your doctor for peace of mind.
It could be that you’ve counted your weeks wrong and you’re too early for your first scan. Usually, it’s best to wait until you’re six weeks along so the baby will come out clearly on your ultrasound.
What does it mean if an ultrasound is empty?
If your pregnancy is dated correctly and you are far enough along, an ultrasound that still doesn’t show a yolk sac could signify there are some complications. You might want to look into a rescan in order to determine if the pregnancy is feasible. This may be an upsetting and disappointing time. Remember that early miscarriages are common and try to keep a positive mindset. You’re never alone in your situation.
Can a baby ‘hide’ on an ultrasound?
Unless it’s too early in your pregnancy to see the baby (up to around 8 weeks), it’s unlikely the baby can be hiding from the ultrasound. The baby grows in its sac and can’t move outside of this. The scan can cover this area entirely, so it’s very unlikely that the baby can be out of view.
However, there’s a chance for a baby to conceal themselves if they have a ‘wombmate’ to hide behind!
Can a twin baby be hidden during an ultrasound?
We’ve all heard stories of unsuspecting women who are surprised (pleasantly or otherwise!) by a second baby after they delivered the first. Whilst this can technically happen, in reality, the advances in modern ultrasound scanning technology makes this situation less and less feasible.
Babies don’t have a lot of space to hide in. However, whilst uncommon, it’s possible that a twin baby can hide on ultrasound by hiding behind its sibling in the sac. If a baby’s feeling shy, they can go unseen if blocked by their sibling. This is more likely to happen in early scans of the first trimester around 10 weeks. However, after this point, you can be confident that any stowaway twins will be clearly in-frame.
What are the other signs of a twin pregnancy?
If you think you have a twin playing hide-and-seek with you, look out for some symptoms associated with a multiple pregnancy.
Some early signs of a second baby include severe morning sickness, breast tenderness, fast weight gain and a bigger appetite, and a bump that shows earlier than usual. You might also feel some movement in two separate parts of your tummy later on.
When should you have an ultrasound for the most accurate results?
Later ultrasounds will usually be clearer than early ones as the baby before 10 weeks is smaller than the size of a grape! However, that doesn’t mean that early scans aren’t accurate. Our early assurance scans are done from six weeks and are performed by qualified and experienced sonographers. These early scans are performed trans-vaginally rather than abdominally, and they pick up lots of tiny details of the baby’s development.
The 24- 34 week 4d scan provides our clearest and highest resolution image of what’s hiding inside, moving in real-time. At this point, babies are developed enough to see their features in extreme detail, down to each tiny toe. Towards 24 weeks is preferable for this scan since the placenta lies nearer the front of your tummy which gets us a clearer look.
You can come in anytime between 10- 40 weeks for our wellbeing and bonding scan for a highly accurate and detailed sonograph. All of our scanning services provided will give a very accurate result, but if you’re looking to see the tiny features of your baby, it’s worth holding out until you’re at least 20 weeks along.
What can affect the accuracy of a scan?
Other than a miscalculated pregnancy date, there are other factors that affect the results of your scan. These include:
Being overweight is something that can make it more difficult to clear scan. Studies have found that obesity can reduce the chance of an accurate scan by up to 50%.
This is because the high-frequency soundwaves that bounce off the growing baby take longer to travel through increased body tissue. The baby will be further away from the transducer (the wand that conducts the scan), and this distance can make the image less accurate. Fat also absorbs the soundwaves, meaning the more that surrounds your abdomen, the harder it is to create a clear and sharp sonograph. However, the scan can also be conducted vaginally if the baby is difficult to see.
Equipment and Human Error
Occasionally, there may be mistakes in conducting the scan if the equipment is old or faulty with some wear and tear. Older machines will usually produce images that are lower quality or less sharp than modern ones. Our clinics have invested in state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging technology to ensure that the images created are highly accurate, and stunning quality so every little detail can be seen, even in 4D.
If your sonographer is inexperienced, they’re more likely to make mistakes that will affect the sonogram. Always ensure that the person conducting your scan is a qualified professional. Our Imaginatal team are experienced health professionals who will always ensure that your procedure is carried out to the highest quality. Have a chat with us here to get to know the team and what we can offer you.
How Imaginatal can Help
Ultrasounds are incredible machines, but if your ultrasound doesn’t quite go to plan or your baby can hide on an ultrasound, we can offer a rescan later free of charge. However, you can be assured that the large majority of scans will produce highly accurate, quality images. We offer a complimentary consultation so you can learn more about our scanning services.
It’s established that although it’s very rare, there is a small chance that a baby can hide from your ultrasound. Just as an early scan showing a baby doesn’t always mean it’s alone in the womb, an ultrasound that doesn’t show a baby doesn’t always mean the worst has happened. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor to be safe and remember to keep a positive mindset.