What’s a 4D ultrasound? 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: 📝
- How 3D and 4D ultrasounds work
- Is a 4D ultrasound safe for baby?
- 4D ultrasound FAQs
How 3D and 4D ultrasounds work
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.
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. However, here’s a heads up:
Is a 4D ultrasound safe for baby?
While they do produce images that are downright adorable, 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. Why? 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.
4D ultrasound FAQs
What does a 4D ultrasound show?
A 4D ultrasound shows a moving image of the little baby in your tummy. 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.
When should you get a 4D ultrasound?
If you want to do it, you should get a 4D ultrasound between 24 and 32 weeks. Many providers suggest 25-29 weeks more specifically. 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.