How to Decipher Your Ultrasound

Ultrasound photos always reminded me of a static television screen or a still shot from a horror movie. During my first pregnancy, when the ultrasound tech handed me the picture, I had no idea what I was looking at. She excitedly pointed at a small grey blob and said it was a boy. How she was able to prove there was a person growing in there AND determine their gender was mind-boggling to me. As a mama-to-be, I made it my personal goal to learn as much as I could. I wanted to document every monumental moment in my pregnancy and I needed to learn how to speak Ultrasound like yesterday. Two pregnancies and several hundred annoying questions to a variety of medical staff later, I’ve become a self-declared ultrasound reading pro! I’ve included a few tips below that’ll help make those ultrasound appointments infinitely more exciting and informative.

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Rule One: Pay attention to the three colors.

White: Represents the most dense, solid tissues, like bones.

Grey: Indicates softer tissues like uterine tissue.

Black: Identifies fluids like amniotic fluid.

Where’s Waldo?

Rule Two: Your little one is always located inside of the black colored amniotic fluid.

The earlier in your pregnancy, the more difficult it may be to spot the finer details of your baby. Don’t be discouraged by the peanut-like status, as your little one continues to grow and move about, you’ll be able to get better ultrasound images.

Blue or Pink?

Rule Three: Be patient when it comes time to determining your baby’s gender.

Typically before 18 weeks the penis and clitoris are considered to be the same size and are easily confused. After that point, a combination of viewing techniques and “theories” are applied so as to determine your baby’s gender. For example, the absence of a penis in the photo is often indicative you’ll be having a girl. Unfortunately, this is often not reliable on its own. Instead, two “signs” are worth keeping an eye out for: the “hamburger” sign or the “turtle” sign. No idea who came up with these names, but as you’ve probably guessed, one refers to the female anatomy while the other refers to the male anatomy. When looking for a boy, if you can see the front of the penis poking out from behind the testicles, this is known as the “turtle sign.” Female genitalia is determined by the clitoris (aka hamburger) situated between two labia “buns.”

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