Nine months can be a long period to wait to see your unborn child. However, thanks to technology, it has now become possible for you to see the amazing little person growing inside of you.
Now, apart from the standard 2D ultrasound that was very popular in the past, developers have now created 3D & 4D ultrasound machines that enable you to get a glimpse of the baby in detail before they are born.
But before you rush to book for one of these ultrasounds, it is important to first understand if and when the scans can be done during the pregnancy. This is important as it will help you keep yourself and your baby safe and healthy during the pregnancy.
Examples of Ultrasounds and Their Differences
2D ultrasounds: The practitioner here will use a transducer or simply known as a wand. It is gently placed on your lower belly or carefully into your vagina. This device will send and receive sound waves into your body. A computer translates the movements of those sound waves into a 2-dimensional image of the fetus.
Doppler: It’s more like the 2D ultrasound device. However, this one is used to turn up the heartbeat sound of the fetus.
3D ultrasounds: Here the practitioner takes multiple 2D images from several angles. These then are pinned together to create a 3D image. The image looks more like a normal image.
4D ultrasounds: The only difference between this and the 3D sonogram is that here you get to see your growing baby make movements in the belly. It’s like a short video clip.
Why 3D and 4D Sonograms Are Performed during Pregnancy
2D and Doppler ultrasounds are used in uncomplicated pregnancies to simply examine the fetus, observe and assess amniotic fluid and establish birth defects if any.
Where there are suspected cases of anomalies like cleft lip or spinal cord abnormalities then 3D and a 4D ultrasound may have to be conducted. In simple terms, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are not part of the normal or routine prenatal exams.
Are 3D and 4D Ultrasounds Safe during Pregnancy?
At the moment there exists no reliable evidence showing that ultrasound is harmful to you or the baby. Generally, when administered by a medical practitioner and for medical reasons, they are considered safe.
Most pregnant women, however, are usually tempted to get a 3D or a 4D ultrasound image of their baby before birth simply because they want to see their baby. It is worth noting that studies show mixed results about the safety of these sonograms.
When the ultrasound enters the body it slightly heats the body tissues. This in some cases, creates small pockets of gas in the body fluids or tissues. There are no known dangers about this scenario.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasizes that ultrasounds should only be performed by a qualified medical professional when your practitioner deems them necessary for medical reasons.
Frequent Ultrasounds Are Risky
Most experts discourage the use of ultrasounds be it 2D, Doppler, or 3D and 4D unless the person conducting the ultrasound is an expert. Their reasons are, ultrasound not only puts your baby’s health at risk but also the technicians performing the exam most likely can’t answer your questions with regards to the development of your baby as they are not experts.
Some institutions have commercialized the practice of scanning. Some have sessions of up to 45minutes of ultrasound time and repeatedly. Experts warn against such practices as they can be disruptive to your fetus which needs time to grow.
The FDA, as well as expects on fetus health, recommends prescriptions to any kind of at-home ultrasound machines.
If you are considering getting any kind of ultrasound test or services outside of a medical set up and without the supervision of an expert, it is only wise to check with your practitioner first for proper guidance. If your doctor allows it, try to limit the time you spend in the studios to at most 15 minutes per visit, and don’t do it frequently.
This, therefore, means that there are no direct risks associated with 3D and 4D ultrasound scans. What most experts are advocating for is to have these ultrasounds done under the supervision of someone who understands what they are doing.