Getting the best 3D ultrasound images at your session
So we have covered things you can do to prepare yourself for your ultrasound in Part I: staying hydrated and having orange juice available during your session. Here are a few more tips to ensuring your 3D/4D ultrasound experience is everything you hope for!
You can get a 3D ultrasound at just about any time during your pregnancy. We start ours at 12 weeks and will do them until birth, but the difference between what you get at 12 weeks, 28 weeks, and 38 weeks should definitely be considered. So, when is the best time for an ultrasound? I could probably write a whole article just on that in itself, but here are the basics.
It depends on what you want to see and how many times you plan to get a 3D/4D ultrasound done. If you’re planning on one time only, the best time is around 28 weeks. Baby is just filled out enough to see the lovable lips and chubby cheeks but small enough that he’s not running out of room yet. But, many studios offer repeat customer discounts or packages that include 2 or 3 sessions. If you want to see baby at all ages and stages, consider buying one of these. They are usually deeply discounted, and will save you quite a bit more money than just scheduling another session, usually to the point of getting one practically free!
The earlier ultrasounds will show you more of the baby’s body and body movements, and the later ultrasounds will have an even more developed face. However, if you only plan to come once, don’t wait too late. The later the pregnancy goes, the less room baby has and the less amniotic fluid compared to baby’s size. In case you forgot how important space and fluid are, go back to Part I for a reminder. Scheduling a session for 37 weeks might get you some great face shots, but it might also get you the blob-like thing we discussed in Part I, and there is no going back in time to try again!
Here are some examples at different weeks for reference (the weeks are labeled in white):
What do ask your sonographer?
There are a few things you will want to discuss with your sonographer before booking to get the best pictures. Not too long ago, if you wanted a 3D ultrasound, you had one option and that was it, maybe two if you were lucky. Since the elective ultrasound business has exploded in most parts of the country, you almost always have a few options to choose from, so be picky. Search out your options. Call and ask questions. We don’t mind!
- What machine do you use?
- This can be a tricky thing to ask because you would need to know a thing or two about ultrasound machines, and who has time to research that? It’s not too hard, I promise! A good machine is critical to getting a clear image. When we purchased ours, we got quotes for $5000 all the way up to $80,000! And let me tell you, the $5000 machine just does not cut it! We did NOT get the $5000 machine, by the way. Trust me when I say that you do not want to waste your money on a cheap machine. The GE Voluson series seems to be the industry standard, although there are several machines that will do the job. Here is a quick reference on the different machines, so check it out. Here’s another quick tip. The studios that have a great machine will usually brag about it on their website, so if you don’t see it on their website, ask! They may have an awesome machine or a blob producer. You’ll never know if you don’t ask
- What is your makeup policy?
- Now, I say this cautiously because not all ultrasounds are going to look like the pictures we put on Facebook or our website. They just aren’t. There are so many variables, like positioning, fluid levels, gestational age, maternal tissue, etc. However, most studios will offer a redo if they aren’t able to get any decent pictures at all during your session. Ask ahead of time what their policy is. Some are more liberal than others, and you want to find one that will do their best to give you the images you want. Again, that doesn’t mean 20 picture perfect, pristine images, but have a discussion with your sonographer so you know what to expect during your appointment.
- What are your sonographers’ qualifications?
- This industry has sonographers with all kinds of experience, education, and certification levels. In most states, there is no regulation, so you might get someone who has never touched an ultrasound machine before starting their own business, or you might get an experienced, registered sonographer with a college degree. Obviously, experience and knowledge matter. Ultrasound is kind of an art form, at least we like to think of it that way, and it takes a lot of technical understanding to get the best images. Want a quick way to find out? Many studios commit to using registered diagnostic medical sonographers, so ask. You can also check for yourself if you have the name of your sonographer here. It’s quick and easy. Not every great sonographer has gone through the process of being registered. I will say that. But, if your sonographer is registered, you will know they have the education, experience, and technical knowledge to be eligible for and pass the board examinations.
So there you have it!
One final tip (and I think this one is probably the most helpful):
Find all of your local studios and compare their galleries. Most studios will post their work on their website galleries or Facebook page, so check them out. You will be able to tell which machine and sonographer you like the most, and that is really all that counts!
Now go see some so kissable, but not quite yet, baby faces!