What Are 3D and 4D Ultrasound Scans?

Though most women will have a routine pregnancy 2D ultrasound, some women will be advised by their healthcare provider to have a 3D or 4D ultrasound. What are these scans and why might you have them?

What's the Difference Between 2D, 3D, and 4D Scans?

While a 2D ultrasound provides a grainy, flat image of your little one, 3D ultrasounds will show more detail. During the 3D ultrasound, multiple 2D images are taken from different angles, and these are rendered together to create a three-dimensional image of your baby. This scan can provide a clear image of the fetus, including the exact shape of the mouth, nose, cheeks, and eyes. The 4D images are similar, but they also show movement in the form of a short video. So, you might see your little one yawning, sucking a thumb, making cute faces, or opening and closing those little eyes.

Why Would I Need a 3D or 4D Scan?

Unlike the 2D scans, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are not usually routine prenatal exams. If needed, your healthcare provider will arrange to have one of these done for medical reasons, such as to get a closer look at the development of the fetus.

When Should I Get a 3D or 4D Scan?

If you need to get one of these more detailed ultrasounds for medical purposes, your doctor will be able to tell you exactly when.

Are 3D and 4D Ultrasounds Safe?

There is no current, reliable evidence that ultrasound is harmful. Ultrasound scans are generally considered to be safe if they are administered for medical reasons and by a qualified healthcare provider.

If you're wondering exactly how your baby is changing over the course of your pregnancy, you can always follow our week-by-week calendar instead. Before long, you'll be through the third trimester, and you'll be able to meet your little one in person and take all the photos your heart desires!

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