All about 3D and 4D scans

There’s always something to look forward to during pregnancy. Be it the end of runs to the bathroom in the first trimester, the first glimpse of your bean at the very first ultrasound, or the time when bump turns into baby, pregnancy is an exciting, emotional time. Adding a 3D or 4D scan to this hormone concoction can really spice things up when juggling a growing bump starts to become almost routine.

What are 3D and 4D scans?

Whilst 3D scans show a still of your baby but in three dimensions (hence much clearer than the routine 2D scan of earlier pregnancy), 4D scans show moving 3D images. 2D images are combined to create 3D images which you can see move in real time at a 4D scan. These scans are best done between 26 and 30 weeks of pregnancy when the size and positioning of your baby are best for the purposes of the scan. Any later and your baby may have already moved down your pelvis, hence making a good image impossible.

Why should I get a 3D or 4D scan?

There are various benefits to getting a 3D or 4D scan but there are also specific issues to be kept in mind:

3D and 4D scans can detect abnormalities

Whilst 3D and 4D scans are perfect opportunities for a sweet look at your baby, they can also reveal abnormalities missed in previous scans. A cleft lip for instance, can be recognizable through a 3D or 4D scan; so can spinal cord issues and any concerns related to heart and other internal organs can be examined. Identifying these issues pre-birth allows for arrangements to be made for timely medical interventions that may be necessary once the baby is born.

You get to see your baby

A whole nine months is quite the long wait; 3D and 4D scans allow you to see the features of your baby before they are born. 2D scans can be quite a downer as not much is recognizable; with 3D or 4D scans, given that the baby is well-positioned, you will get to see detailed features of your little one. If you opt for a 4D scan, you can also spot your baby yawning or sucking his or her thumb. How’s that for a third trimester highlight!

You’ll get some seriously cool pictures at the end of the 3D/4D scan

The clinic may offer to provide you with printed images or a video of the scan (most probably against a fee). If you do decide to share said picture or video with friends and relatives, prepare yourself for the ‘Oh hey there baby, you look just like [insert relative’s name here]’, followed by a loving pat on your growing belly. You’ve been warned!

What should I know about 3D/4D scans?

For starters, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are optional and might not necessarily be covered by your insurance. Also, many healthcare practitioners advise against opting for the quick scans available outside medical centers. Whilst 3D and 4D scans are considered safe, experts do not recommend having one for the simple purpose of having a memento or where the scan is not carried out by a medical professional.

It may also be that at your appointment, your baby decides to feel shy and does not reveal her face. The sonographer may ask you to drink some water, or go for a walk before trying again.

Read more about ultrasounds in pregnancy, here.

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