Not too long ago, the only way eager parents-to-be could get a glimpse of Junior before he made his big appearance was in one — or, if you were lucky, two — routine pregnancy ultrasounds. To the untrained eye of most parents, these ultrasound images are barely recognizable as being those of a child. Enter the 3D pregnancy ultrasound: an ultrasound method that provides a fully dimensional view of babies still in the womb. Before having a 3D ultrasound performed, however, understand that they are not designed to be medically diagnostic and are not recommended by any major medical association.
How 3D Ultrasounds Work
3D ultrasounds work much the same way as the older, more common 2D ultrasounds — both use reflected high-frequency sound waves to create the final image. One main difference is that 3D ultrasounds send their sound waves out at a variety of angles, not on a single plane as with 2D ultrasounds. 3D ultrasounds are conducted with typical ultrasound machines supplemented with specialized software and probes.
How 3D Ultrasounds Are Performed
The procedure for a 3D ultrasound is the same as that for any 2D ultrasound. A special gel that helps conduct sound waves is squirted onto your abdomen and a small, hand-held device called a transducer is placed gently on the abdomen and used to introduce sound waves into the uterus. Because 3D ultrasounds are not medically necessary, their cost is not covered by insurance.
Benefits of a 3D Ultrasound
Having a 3D ultrasound performed at any stage of your pregnancy may serve to strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Women suffering from depression or anxiety during their pregnancies may be helped by this opportunity to see their babies before birth, as suggested by Pregnancy.org. Fathers who participate in 3D ultrasounds along with their pregnant partners may begin bonding with the child earlier since they will now have a visual image to connect with the infant they will soon have.
Some physicians worry that access to ultrasounds outside of the obstetrician’s office might lead some to believe that medically diagnostic ultrasounds are not important. Also, there is no reliable scientific research that indicates repeated ultrasounds won’t damage a child’s development in utero. The American Pregnancy Association, the FDA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend pregnant women should only undergo an ultrasound if it is medically required.
How To Pick a Good 3D Ultrasound Provider
The best 3D ultrasound providers will ask you to provide proof that your health and baby are being monitored by a licensed physician throughout the course of your pregnancy. Your safest bet in locating a good provider is to forgo advertisements in favor of recommendations from friends who have previously had the procedure done.