What is a 4D ultrasound? Imagine an ultrasound in which you can see your little one blink and move. Sounds great – but should you get one?
An ultrasound in 4 dimensions sounds pretty sci-fi.
But, simply, it’s a new method that doctors – and, more often, private companies – offer to let you see the little one in your belly in live video, rather than a conventional two-dimensional ultrasound image.
Pretty cool, huh? Sure is.
And since 40 weeks can feel like forever to wait to see your little one properly, we understand a sneak preview can be tempting.
However, 4D ultrasounds or sonograms aren’t always the best idea, particularly if you’re getting one in a commercial setting.
Here’s all you need to know about 4D ultrasounds.
In this article: 📝
- What is a 4D ultrasound?
- How are 4D scans done?
- Is 3D or 4D ultrasound better?
- Is a 4D ultrasound safe for baby?
- What does a 4D ultrasound show?
- When is the best time to get a 4D ultrasound?
- How much does a 4D ultrasound cost?
- Can you have a 4D scan if baby is head down?
- Can you eat before a 4D ultrasound?
What is a 4D ultrasound?
4D ultrasound images are much more than just pictures.
They offer a peek into the future, giving you a first glance at your unborn baby.
It’s not just about getting to see your baby sooner, but the ability to observe key moments in the development of your child without waiting to meet them in person.
That’s why 4D ultrasound images are so special and unique.
They allow you to get acquainted with your child before it is born and see how they develop during pregnancy week by week.
Not only that, but, 4D ultrasounds also provide an opportunity for you to take home video clips from this amazing experience that remain with you forever.
What can you see in a 4D ultrasound?
As a 4D ultrasound give you the chance to see your unborn baby before birth, you’ll get to see their face and observe their movements before birth.
You can also observe the development of their organs, limbs, and all other organs, so if there are concerns about your child’s health, a 4D ultrasound can help monitor pregnancy more closely.
How are 4D scans done?
All ultrasounds work using soundwaves, which are sent “into” your belly from the wand (called a transducer) and bounce back like an echo from your baby’s body.
As the transducer passes over your bump, the machine converts the sound waves into an image so you see what your baby looks like.
Most ultrasounds are 2D.
These are the scans that most mamas will have as part of their routine prenatal checkups.
The result is that grainy 2D image of your little peanut.
3D ultrasounds work in a similar way, but they are just a touch more sophisticated.
Instead of making a 2D image from those soundwaves, technology can stitch lots of different images from lots of different angles into 3D dimensional images.
This way, the image looks almost like a proper photo of the baby in your belly.
And for 4D ultrasounds, things are done much in the same way ‒ it’s less about how the ultrasound is done, and more about how the monitor processes the images, making them look four-dimensional.
Is 4D scan internal or external?
Usually, 4D ultrasounds are done externally ‒ not with a transvaginal wand.
The doctor or nurse will apply some clear gel so the transducer can glide over your bump, then gently apply a little pressure to see where baby is.
Then, the 4D scan is recorded so you can take it home as a memento.
Is 3D or 4D ultrasound better?
What is the difference between 3D and 4D ultrasounds?
3D ultrasounds just produce still images of the fetus, though with more detail than 2D ultrasounds.
4D ultrasounds, on the other hand, show a video.
This way, you can see your baby sucking their little thumb, kicking their little legs, and wiggling around.
Is it cute? Absolutely.
Is it necessary? Not at all.
4D ultrasounds are also known as “keepsake” ultrasounds, as they are used more for fun than medical purposes.
Is a 4D ultrasound safe for baby?
While they do produce downright adorable images, the medical experts aren’t 100% sure whether 4D ultrasounds are safe for baby or not.
The US Food and Drug Administration, for example, says it might be best to give keepsake ultrasounds a miss because of the potential risks.
Sound waves may expose your baby to heat – and too much heat might cause problems.
2D ultrasounds are absolutely okay.
They’ve been used for decades by medical professionals all over the world to monitor the health of babies.
But often you won’t do one of these ultrasounds more than once or twice across your term.
That’s because frequent exposure to these sorts of sound waves might subject the baby to more risks.
The thing about 4D ultrasounds, though, is that they are not used for medical purposes.
So, you would be just doing it for fun.
That’s cool, but it does raise the risks – and some might say unnecessarily.
At the same time, this is totally up to you.
What does a 4D ultrasound show?
A 4D ultrasound shows a moving image of your baby in your womb.
The image is made from lots of 2D images stitched together.
2D images are the go-to for medical purposes, while 3D ultrasounds are sometimes used by doctors to get a clearer image of certain conditions that might be affecting your baby.
4D ultrasounds are just for the pure joy of seeing your little one move.
Can 4D scan show gender?
Yes, 4D ultrasounds can show baby’s sex (which is a little different from gender).
It’s one of the more accurate ways to determine baby’s sex, as you can get a clearer picture, but if baby’s feeling shy, you may not be able to get a good peek.
Can a 4D scan detect abnormalities?
Interestingly, this isn’t really the case ‒ it can be easier to see any abnormalities in a 2D scan, as baby isn’t moving in the static picture they provide.
It’s also down to the contrast of the black and white 2D ultrasound, which can make certain abnormalities or birth differences more prominent than a 4D scan.
When is the best time to get a 4D ultrasound?
This is when you get the clearest images of your little one.
After that, things might get too crowded to get a good picture.
How much does a 4D ultrasound cost?
The answer to how much is a 4d ultrasound? depends on where you are and which provider you choose.
Prices can differ because 3D and 4D ultrasounds are offered by commercial firms, not healthcare providers.
Prices start from about $120 and can reach $200 or more.
Are 4D scans worth it?
That’s totally up to you.
Some mamas-to-be love having a video of their little one before they meet them, others don’t want to.
It’s your journey, after all.
Can you have a 4D scan if baby is head down?
Yes, you can get a 4D ultrasound if baby is facing head down.
In fact, this can mean that their hands and feet aren’t in front of their face, which can make for a clearer picture.
But there’s always a chance they may be a little obscured, so part of a good 4D ultrasound is luck.
Can you eat before a 4D ultrasound?
Yes, you can usually eat before a 4D ultrasound, unless your medical provider has told you otherwise.
In fact, eating about an hour before your appointment can mean that baby is more active, so you could get a more action-packed video as your keepsake.
How much water should I drink for a 4D ultrasound?
Staying hydrated throughout your pregnancy is fundamental for yours and baby’s well-being and physical health.
While you don’t necessarily need a full bladder before a 4D ultrasound (particularly if it’s after 20 weeks), it’s worth still staying hydrated throughout the day as you would normally.
And if you need to visit the bathroom during your 4D ultrasound appointment, just ask!
While it’s true that 4D ultrasounds are fun and cute, we also have to consider a few things.
First, there is a chance that a 4D ultrasound can give you false reassurance about your child’s health.
And second, 4D ultrasound isn’t necessary for keeping an eye on your baby’s development throughout pregnancy, even at a certain point in their development (typically around 20 weeks).
So, while 4D ultrasounds are not necessary during pregnancy, they can be incredibly exciting to watch as they develop, particularly when paired with the right partner or partner.
Thinking about getting a 4D ultrasound? Why not share it with the other moms-to-be of Peanut?
Let’s hope your little one is facing the right way!