Is 3D Ultrasound Right For You & Your Baby?
For parents expecting a baby, one of the most exciting moments during pregnancy is that first prenatal ultrasound. Hearing and seeing their baby’s heartbeat for the first time can be a life-changing experience. The ultrasound gives us a peek inside a world that we are excluded from, especially now that we are able to view the growing baby in 3D.
The majority of women will have an ultrasound at some point during their pregnancy, and most of us are familiar with the traditional 2d ultrasound, which is used to determine gestational age, sex, and health of the fetus. It produces flat images that show the outlines of the internal organs of the baby, which can be helpful in diagnosing a variety of abnormalities.
How Does 3D Ultrasound Work?
Ultrasound works by “listening” to the sound waves that are directed down and passed straight back up again. In 3D ultrasound, those same sound waves are used, but this time they’re directed down at various angles, enabling the receiving equipment to “see” the image as 3-dimensional. This is a process known as “surface rendering”. With 4D technology, the still images produced with 3D ultrasound are played one right after another, creating a moving picture in real time.
Risk of 3D and 4D Ultrasounds
As with the more traditional 2D ultrasounds, the risk from 3D and 4D procedures is considered to be quite low. The technology used is essentially the same, with the primary difference being the advancement of the equipment receiving the ultrasound waves, rather than the application of the waves themselves. However, the FDA has not given approval for ultrasounds to be for keepsake purposes and cautions about exposing the growing fetus to unnecessary ultrasound waves.
These typically elective ultrasounds should never be a substitute for one performed as a medical procedure by your physician, as they are not meant to be prenatal care. If your doctor’s office does not offer 3D or 4D ultrasounds, be sure to let them know that you’re considering getting one. It’s important to keep your doctor informed of your decisions, and they may have a recommendation for whom you should go see.
The Bonding Effect
One of the primary benefits of a 3D or 4D ultrasound is the immediate bonding on the parents. No longer is your baby an abstract idea or flat image on a monitor. Now you can see your baby’s face, watch her move around, see him suck his thumb.
Mothers with a strong bond with their unborn baby tend to take better care of themselves. They may stop smoking or drinking, practice better nutrition and exercise habits, or reduce stress.
Finding (or Becoming) a Provider
As many mom’s or mom’s-to-be already know, your friends and family are a great referral source. Ask around to see if anyone you know has had a 3D or 4D ultrasound, and if they would make a recommendation. You want to find a provider who has experience and is reputable, practices their craft safely, and in an environment that is clean and comfortable. This should be a beautiful experience for you and your partner, and you want to find someone who treats you with the respect you deserve.
If you are interested in becoming a 3D or 4D ultrasound provider, or better yet, you’d like to get the education and training to become an ultrasound technician, start by exploring our ultrasound careers resource center. Or visit our schools directory to find a program in your area.