Elective ultrasounds are a great way for families to bond with their unborn baby. Being well-prepared can help you have the best experience possible when getting that first amazing glimpse of baby!
What are 3D/4D ultrasounds, and why is everyone always talking about them?
- As an expectant mother, you’re excited to see your baby at every stage, from the first little dot on the monitor to the sweet kicking baby ready to enter this world. Every ultrasound is a moment to treasure.
- Definitely not. You should still be under the care of your prenatal care provider.
- Studies show the bonding experience provided by a 3D/4D ultrasound can help mothers improve their diets, exercise more frequently, and eliminate harmful behaviors such as smoking and drinking. For fathers and siblings, the chance to see the baby and create a pre-birth bond is instrumental in drawing the whole family closer during this time of change.
What exactly is a 3D or 4D ultrasound?
- A 3D ultrasound is performed using the exact same machine as a 2D ultrasound. The difference is that a 2D ultrasound visualizes the baby in planes (or layers) and a 3D ultrasound looks at the surface of the baby. The term 4D simply means the element of motion has been added to a still 3D photo. 4D has also been referred to as “3D Live.”
Is 3D/4D ultrasound the best way to learn the gender of my baby?
- It may surprise you to learn that 2D ultrasound is the best way to determine or verify a baby’s gender. 3D ultrasound can, at times, be a bit ambiguous when it comes to gender images. Other times, it’s quite obvious. However, the best way to make sure of an accurate gender determination is through 2D ultrasound.
When is the best time to have a 3D/4D ultrasound?
- Most 3D/4D ultrasounds are done between 24 and 34 weeks. Prior to 24 weeks, babies have not started putting on brown fat so they won’t have the “Gerber Baby” look. Around 27 to 28 weeks is usually considered the ideal time, because the baby does have some fat and still has plenty of room to move. After 34 weeks, the baby begins to get a little squished and may be facing the spine, which is the position for birth.
Why does it matter how much room the baby has to move?
- First of all, you’ll enjoy the viewing experience more if your baby has room to move around. Often you can watch little hands and feet in motion, toes and fingers wiggling, and see your baby’s face from all different angles. Second, if the baby is in a position that makes viewing difficult (facing the spine or covering its face with hands and feet), you have a better chance of baby repositioning if there’s room for it to move.
What if I want to see my baby in 3D earlier than recommended?
- Some moms want to see their babies early on in 3D. Simply expect baby to be smaller and thinner (as they do not have those fat deposits under their skin yet), but also expect to see more of baby’s body and movements at once, which can be fascinating!
Will I get great pictures like you see on the internet?
- Maybe. Several factors determine the quality of the ultrasound photos including:
- Amount of amniotic fluid: Sound waves travel through fluid to create the images. The more fluid around your baby, the clearer the photos will be. You can help ensure a good amount of fluid by drinking plenty of water and keeping well-hydrated before you have your appointment.
- Location of placenta: Unfortunately, the location of the placenta is one factor you can’t change. The placenta can be on the front of the uterus, the back, or the side. When the placenta is on the front, it can block the baby’s face, because the sound waves pick up the placenta as the same type of tissue as your baby.
- Maternal body tissue: If mom is fuller-figured, the sound waves have more tissue to travel through which can cause grainier looking photos. If this is the case with you, it’s best to wait until around 32 weeks for your 3D/4D ultrasound because the tissue will be stretched out as your baby grows.
- Position of baby: If the baby is facing your spine, you’ll probably only get a photo of the back of its head or an occasional profile. The technician would then try to reposition the mother in an attempt to get the baby to move. This brings us back to the importance of having plenty of fluid.
Editorial provided by Michelle Huesemann, owner of Ultrasona St. Louis.