Your Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan Photo Explained

by Samantha Ball |
Published on

Whether it's your 12-week scan or 20-week scan, that baby pic is one of the most significant photos you’ll ever have, so get clued up on what you’re looking at

Your scan. One of the most exciting moments of pregnancy. And with it often comes a photo of your growing baby to stick to the fridge/post on Facebook/show to any stranger who happens to sit next to you on the bus.

But, silly as it sounds, they’re not always the easiest things to decipher. Anyone remember that moment in Friends where Rachel can’t work out what part of Emma she’s looking at? Exactly. So, try this break down to help you make sense of yours.

The text details

Most scan images have notes at the top, and they basically relate to you, your baby and the hospital. Although the report that comes with it tends to hold more information.


‘It varies from place to place, but this text tends to include things like your name, date of birth and a hospital reference number,’ says consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Shreelata Datta. ‘There can also be notes about the actual scan machine and its settings.’

What you can see in the photo

See that white/light grey shading around the edge? That’s your womb, and then the next layer inside that shows the amniotic fluid around your baby – who is then in the middle.

Most scan images have notes at the top, and they basically relate to you, your baby and the hospital

What baby features you can see in the picture depends on several factors, including the angle of the shot (a sonographer will generally try and give you one that shows you the most) as well as which scan you’re having.


‘Your baby will look like a small baked bean at an early scan – around 6-10 weeks – while it’s at your 12-week one that we can distinguish his head,’ says Shree. ‘At 20 weeks, we can pick out more details to show you – things like his heart, eyes, limbs, spine and gender if you want to know that.’


Definitely ask if you want some help decoding your photo. Subtle details can be hard to see if you’re not a professional, and Shree explains scan photos come in umpteen shades of grey. Clarity can also depend on the quality of the machine.

What did you do with your scan photos? Let us know on the comments board below.

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