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What You Need to Know About a 3-D or 4-D Ultrasound

Ultrasound Scan on Belly

When you are pregnant, the wait to see your baby's face may feel excruciating. One way to sneak a glimpse at your baby's face before your due date is to schedule a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound. Though these procedures are similar, there are a couple differences.

Both types of ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to provide images of your baby. A 3-D ultrasound creates three-dimensional still images of your baby, while a 4-D ultrasound is a video of your baby's three-dimensional movements. Your technician can record the video to a DVD or flash drive so that you can keep it as a memento. Read on to learn a few things you need to know about getting a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound.

1. A 3-D or 4-D Ultrasound Has Medical Utility

One misconception regarding 3-D or 4-D ultrasounds is that they are purely for novelty or fun. They actually provide a level of detail that simply isn't possible with a 2-D ultrasound.

Three-dimensional ultrasounds can help your doctor spot any physical birth defects that your baby might have, such as a cleft palate. This type of ultrasound is also helpful for assisting with the detection of neural tube defects.

The sooner your doctor can detect possible medical issues with your baby, the better. This allows you and your OBGYN to devise an acceptable treatment plan before the birth of your baby.

For example, if your baby has a cleft palate and you want to breastfeed, you may need to use a special nipple shield, pump and use a bottle with a certain type of nipple, or employ certain nursing techniques. You may make the necessary preparations and appointments to assist with your baby's possible feeding issues in advance to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

2. You Should Stick With Medical Professionals for Your Ultrasounds

Numerous businesses specialize in providing 3-D or 4-D ultrasounds. Sometimes, your medical insurance may refuse to cover a 3-D ultrasound. The cost at one of these ultrasound businesses tends to be cheaper than the price for a similar procedure at your OBGYN's office.

However, it is important to avoid using these places and only have trained medical professionals conduct your ultrasounds. Though ultrasound is labeled as safe during pregnancy, this designation depends on utilizing a trained technician for your procedures.

Your ultrasound technician should use the lowest levels of ultrasound energy possible for your procedures and have the ability to conduct the procedure within a reasonable time frame. Ultrasound businesses frequently take much longer to complete an ultrasound than does a medical office, either due to inexperience or to increase customer satisfaction.

Regardless of the reason, you want to avoid unnecessarily long ultrasounds during your pregnancy. 

3. The Ideal Timeframe for Your Ultrasound Is Small

If you decide that you want to have a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound, know that there is a limited period during your pregnancy to have the procedure. Ideally, you should have the ultrasound sometime between 28 and 31 weeks gestation.

The reasoning behind this recommendation is that you don't want your baby to be too big during the ultrasound. If your baby is too cramped, this will obscure the technician's ability to obtain clear images of your baby's facial features and body parts. However, if your baby is too small, your technician can't capture images with the preferred level of detail.

Between 28 and 31 weeks is the ideal time for a 3-D ultrasound. Your baby's development is advanced enough to secure detailed images, but your baby is still small enough that features won't appear cramped or smooshed. 

Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life. Get the care you deserve by using North Park OB-GYN, PC, for all of your prenatal needs.