Think 20. Think HEART: Do you know what to expect from your 20-week scan?

The 20-week scan is an exciting moment for many pregnant women.  The opportunity to see your baby on screen again, and perhaps to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl.  As well as being an exciting moment, it’s also an important one.  This is the scan where the sonographer checks to make sure that the baby is developing normally and there are no abnormalities.  A scan that can help to save your baby’s life.

Think 20. Think Heart - why the 20-week scan is so important for helping to detect congenital heart defects

My eldest daughter was born with a complex congenital heart defect (CHD) that was detected at the 20-week scan.  Had that scan not picked up her heart defect, she would not be here today.  Early detection of her heart defect meant that she was able to have the surgery she needed in order to survive within hours of her being born.  In fact, she had her first surgery before she was even born.


While the in-utero surgery that helped save my daughter’s life is incredibly rare, CHDs are much more common than many expectant parents realise.  One in every 125 babies is born with a heart problem – 5000 babies per year in the UK alone.  Out of those babies, approximately a third come home with an undetected and potentially life-threatening congenital heart defect.  CHDs are the biggest cause of death from a birth defect and kill twice as many children each year as all childhood cancers combined.


Early diagnosis of heart defects at the 20-week scan gives babies a better chance of survival and long-term quality of life.  It means that the baby can be monitored closely during the rest of the pregnancy, and helps ensure that the right medical expects are on hand when the baby is born.  It means that life-saving treatment and surgery can take place as soon as possible.  It also helps give parents time to prepare, to learn more about their child’s heart condition and to access the support they will need.

Jessica in PICU after her Glenn surgery

Tiny Tickers, the baby’s heart charity, wants to make sure that every baby is given the best possible start by increasing understanding of the real reason for the 20-week scan and why it is so important.  It’s one of the most in-depth health checks a baby will have while it is in the womb and it is the best opportunity to pick up a heart defect before the baby is born.


Tiny Tickers have created an online quiz at where you can test how much you know about the 20-week scan.  At the end of the quiz, you can also request an information pack which will give mums-to-be a check list on the important questions to ask the sonographer at the 20-week scan in order to help improve early detection rates.


Please take a moment to take part in the Think 20. Think HEART quiz and then share it on your Facebook or Twitter.  Together we can build vital awareness and help improve survival rates for heart babies.


You can also read more about the signs and symptoms of a possible undetected heart defect in a newborn here.


This post was written in support of the Tiny Tickers Big Tick campaign purely through my own personal wish to raise awareness of CHDs.  I have not been compensated for writing this post.

Little Hearts Big Love


10 thoughts on “Think 20. Think HEART: Do you know what to expect from your 20-week scan?

  1. I think this is so important. I remember when I went for the gremlin’s 20 weeks scan and the sonographer was almost a bit cross that people came and only cared about the sex of the baby. She wanted people to care more about the anomaly aspect. Great post to make you think about this and raise awareness xx #twinklytuesday

    1. Thanks Sarah – it’s something that makes me a little cross sometimes too but I know my views are biased because that scan was so very important for us. Checking that all is well really is so important though x

  2. This is so important. I went to my 20 week scan very naively. I had had an easy pregnancy and I was a healthy young mum. I was excited to find out if we on team pink or team blue.

    My world came crashing round me when I found out that my baby had a very rare developmental disorder, including a hole in her heart (she is now 5yrs old and doing marvellously, all things considered). I never dreamed the scan would show up an anomaly. My heart tightens whenever I hear about couples going for their 20 week scan now. I remember sitting in that hospital room, trying to take on the information that different people were throwing at me.

    But that early detection was vital and it gave us a chance to come to terms with what we were facing before she made an appearance. Well done for using your blog to raise awareness in this way. #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Thank you Lucy – I don’t think anyone ever really expects to be told that there is something wrong and it really does send your world crashing down when it happens. So glad to hear that your daughter is doing well now and glad that the early detection gave you that chance to come to terms with it all x

  3. Oh my goodness, how incredible that she was able to have surgery before she was born to allow her to survive. I had no idea so many children had undiagnosed heart issues.

    1. It’s a scary statistic isn’t it – I was certainly unaware of how common heart defects were until I became a heart parent despite having been a midwife for several years

  4. So glad everyone is sharing and supporting the Tiny Tickers campaign. When we fall pregnant with baby number 2 I will be taking this to the scan. It is so important. We did not find out about Elijah’s condition until after birth. But anything we can do to spread awareness and teach people how detect heart conditions. I have shared on the blog FB page, and twitter. xxx

    1. Thanks for sharing Vicki. It’s sub an important campaign – anything that helps increase early detection helps improve outcomes overall x

  5. I was so nervous about all of my 20 week scans for this reason – they’re so thorough which is a good thing but each time I was waiting with baited breath… #twinklytuesday

    1. So glad that your scans were all fine. Knowing what they’re for can make it more nerve-wracking but so important to have a through scan.

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