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Understanding 4-D ultrasounds

Though you may be familiar with the fuzzy black-and-white way of viewing a baby in the womb, the latest 4-D versions of the traditional ultrasound are something entirely different. Read on to learn more about this new form of prenatal viewing.

4D ultrasound

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasounds are an important step in checking on your unborn baby during pregnancy. They may be done during your first, second and/or third trimester, depending on your needs and the needs of your child. The ultrasound is primarily an opportunity for the sonographer to take a look at how your little one is developing and keep an eye out for any abnormalties if they are present. But it also provides you with the chance to get the very first picture of your little one. This photo is called a “sonogram,” and it captures a snapshot of your baby in the womb.

What’s the difference between 2-D, 3-D and 4-D?

The photos you are most familiar with are likely the fuzzy black-and-white variety, which are 2-D. Since those early images, scientists developed a 3-D ultrasound that adds the dimension of depth for a more realistic viewing of your baby. Now, with the 4-D ultrasound, you not only get to see your baby as fully dimensional, you also get to see him or her in motion, as the dimension of time is added.

What does each type of ultrasound do?

According to childbirth and postpartum educator and doula Robin Elise Weiss, there are a few differences in what each option has to offer. With a 2-D image, the sonographer can see flat images and outlines of the baby and its organs. This can help with early detection of organ abnormalities, such as heart defects. The 3-D ultrasound looks at the surface of the baby, so it has the added benefit of allowing the sonographer to catch more minute issues, such as a cleft lip. This image becomes live in a 4-D situation, so you have the opportunity to see your little one stretching and moving.

Is 4-D necessary?

Ultimately 4-D technology is primarily a benefit for you. Very few advantages are gained by a sonographer seeing the baby in 4-D other than to confirm it is moving around as expected. But it can be an exciting moment when you and your loved ones are able to see a live video of your little one growing inside you.

How do I get a 4-D ultrasound?

Ultrasound centres that offer the option of 4-D to women can be found all over Canada. Talk to your doctor about whether getting one is the right choice and to track down a sonographer you can trust.

more on pregnancy

Baby’s ultrasound schedule
Understanding your prenatal care options
Birthing options in Canada

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