3D And 4D Ultrasound Scans During Pregnancy by Dr Prerna Jhawar

4 min read

Reviewed by Dr Prerna Jhawar MBBS, MS(Obstetrics and Gynaecology),
FFM Consultant, Fetal Medicine,
Rainbow Children's Hospitals, Bengaluru

Dr Prerna Jhawar

Dr Prerna Jhawar is a Fetal medicine expert with 12+ years of experience. As a Fetal medicine expert, Dr Prerna takes care of babies while they are still in their Mother’s womb! Sharing the More

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

3D and 4D Ultrasound scan during pregnancy

The nine months of pregnancy is a crucial time for your baby. The baby is rapidly growing and evolving during this tenure. To monitor the growth and development of your precious one, doctors worldwide conduct a medical procedure that helps to scan a baby through sound waves. This process is also commonly known as ultrasound. What are 3D and 4D ultrasound scans during pregnancy?

Ultrasounds or Scans are conducted without any abscission or surgery. A piece of medical equipment is placed on the abdomen of the expecting mother, or inside the vagina. This equipment releases sound waves that penetrate the abdomen but deflect off the baby and create an image or impression of the baby on the computer screen.

In This Article

What Are the Different Types of Ultrasound Scans Done in Pregnancy?

There are three different types of scans.

a) 2D Scan

The 2D scan gives a two-dimensional image of your unborn baby. 2D scans look pretty much like a picture’s negative. 2D Scans can be conducted at any time of the pregnancy and it gives you a decent image of the baby depending on the position of the baby. Most hospitals advise 2D scans in the due course of pregnancy.

b) 3D Scan

3D Scans are three-dimensional colored pictures of the baby. For this process, multiple 2D pictures, of various angles are combined together to form a three-dimensional picture.

c) 4D Scan

4D scans are moving videos or clips that generate the image of the baby in four dimensions, with time being the fourth dimension. Hence you can see the baby in action with 4D scans. Through 4D scans, you will be able to observe tiny movements of your child.

Why Are Ultrasound Scans Conducted in Pregnancy?

A scan basically helps to detect abnormalities in the baby. A 2D scan helps to check and monitor the baby’s heartbeat, structures internal organs, and even the size of the various structures and internal organs of the baby. It also helps to check the overall growth of the baby and locate the baby’s exact position, fluid around the baby and even the position of the placenta. A 2D scan will generally help to determine all the medical information needed for the baby.

How Can 3D and 4D Ultrasounds Help in Pregnancy?

3D and 4D scans help the sonographer or the doctor to examine the baby’s outer layer. 3D and 4D scans are predominantly conducted to examine and detect fetal abnormalities such as cleft lip. It will also help to examine and detect spinal cord tissues in the fetus.

3D and 4D scans are also conducted to examine in detail a specific part of the baby. Thus, these are done only if the parents so wish, or a doctor feels the need for it. They are also expensive.

When is the Right Time to Get a 3D or a 4D Scan?

When Is The Right Time To Get A 3D Or A 4D Scan_

Ideally, you should only go in for a scan when the doctor asks you to. If you decide to go for a 3D or a 4D scan without consulting the doctor wait until you reach the 26th week. Before 26 weeks your baby’s skin will not have developed completely and conducting a 3D and 4D scan will only show the skeletal structure.

After 26 weeks baby’s skin will be greatly developed and the scan will give you a clearer image of the baby. Also, make sure that you conduct a scan before the 30th week. After the 30th week, your baby’s face will move towards your pelvic, in order to prepare for the delivery.

This position is not very conducive while conducting scans since your baby’s face won’t show clearly. To generate the best-scanned image of your baby, the placenta needs to be exactly in front of the uterus, this usually happens in the 28th week of pregnancy.

Another crucial criterion to get a good picture of the baby is that the baby should be in the optimum position. Generally, when the baby is facing downwards you get the best possible image of the baby but if the baby is on its back you won’t be able to get a clearer picture. To get a good scanned image the baby’s face needs to be in the amniotic fluid present in the uterus.

Are 3D and 4D Ultrasound Scans Safe During Pregnancy?

Are 3D and 4D Scans Safe During Pregnancy_

Ultrasounds and scans are being conducted for quite some time and there haven’t been any complaints from the mothers to be so far, though experts say that too many scans can be harmful to the baby. Ultrasounds use sound waves and not radiation hence they are the least bit harmful to the mother or the baby. Studies on the subject also haven’t come up with a concrete conclusion.

Nonetheless, an ultrasound must only be conducted by trained professionals. You may even request the sonographer or the specialist to conduct the ultrasound at a low intensity, if possible. Also, do not treat scanned images as memorabilia or souvenirs and conduct ultrasound regularly for that sake. Even though they are not harmful, scans must always be conducted by a doctor’s recommendation only.

Read Also: First Trimester Scans For Your Growing Baby by Dr Prerna Jhawar

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

Responses (2)

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Sarah Smith

Jun 02, 2016

I'm thinking about getting a 4d ultrasound picture of my baby but don't when a good time would be. Thanks for the advice about how the best time to get a picture would be around the 28th week of pregnancy. Now I just to find someone that can print and set up my picture.


Nash Rich

May 28, 2016

It's pretty cool that there are 4D scans so you can see the baby move around. We just had 2D scans done when we had our kid, so I think it would be cool to see a baby in 4D. It's nice that we can spot abnormalities early one, so we can prepare for them. What a great day we live in.

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