4D or not 4D, that is the question
January 13, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Looking for opinions on getting an elective 4D ultrasound for our first baby around 27 weeks. Do you think it's safe? If you've had one, was it worth the money?

I will be speaking with my midwife about it today to get her opinion, but I'd also appreciate some input from people who have either gotten one or are well informed about it. Please share your experience and provide this mama with some well-rounded advice!
posted by lilgoyl to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I am pregnant right now and got one, mostly because I was dying to know the baby's gender and she hadn't cooperated at the only two ultrasounds my doctor ordered. For various reasons that aren't pertinent to your question, I have had some tough emotional things happen during this pregnancy, and I just wanted to know the gender and have one thing about the process go my way. From my perspective, it was well worth it, and it was pretty magical what we could see in 4D; however, if I had found out the gender earlier, I don't think I would have bothered. I didn't talk to my provider about the safety of the procedure, but my brother's fiancee is expecting twins right now and her multiples specialist gives her 4D ultrasounds at every visit (as far as I can tell, anyway). If you have a little money to burn (my 4D cost about $80), I'd say go for it!
posted by katie at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2010

I had one with my 2nd child and enjoyed it. How much you'll see depends on how much your baby is moving around. My daughter wanted to sleep more than she wanted to show off :)

My advice to people now is that if it's your first child - go for it! If is't a subsequent child and you really want to know gender and didn't find out at your regular ultrasound - go for it! If you want to go just because it seems neat - maybe go, maybe don't depending on how much it costs in your area.

Oh, we got pictures and a dvd of the whole u/s. Love the pictures, never have looked at the dvd but it's kinda cool to know we could.
posted by Abbril at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2010

We got one and I was a bit underwhelmed by it to be honest. The cord was in the way for the most part which made it hard to see baby z.
posted by zeoslap at 11:30 AM on January 13, 2010

As to what zeoslap says, it is true that there's no guarantee you'll get an amazing view. The cord was a little bit in the way during ours, and I have an anterior placenta, which blurs the image a bit, AND our baby was gnawing on her fist/forearm much of the time and thus blocking her face. . . but I still thought it was pretty amazing; as I said, my primary motivation was to find out the gender, and it was certainly a success in that regard. Still, the tech told us that certain conditions can make it difficult to get a good view, and then you're just out the money and don't have much to show for it.
posted by katie at 11:37 AM on January 13, 2010

If you're talking about the "memory keepsake" type ultrasound that's not ordered for diagnostic or other medical reasons, I really would encourage you not to have it done, especially if you are in the US as there is no guarantee the person operating the machine has proper training to do so.

Read the statement from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine for some more info.

In 2004, the FDA issued a warning regarding this, too.

The state of Connecticut recently banned the practice.

Personally, I'd be alarmed if your midwife thought this was a good idea.
posted by zizzle at 12:15 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

My doctor's office had the 4D along with the regular ultrasound. They wouldn't give us one early, and when I asked why the ultrasound tech said that it's because at that age the baby can look kind of scary. They don't have the layer of chubby yet, and the moms can freak out unnecessarily.

We did get one later in the pregnancy, I think around 32 weeks IIRC, and I can see what they mean. It was a cute baby, but it was hard to see and a little on the odd side. When my son was born he did look similar to the ultrasound video, but at the same time it was totally different.

The only plus for us was that we were able to take my oldest two kids in and they got to 'see' the baby for the first time. It made it so much more real to them.

Honestly, if it were me pregnant again and I had the option I'd just skip it. Especially if I had to pay for it. I was supremely underwhelmed.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:23 PM on January 13, 2010

We got one and it was decidedly "meh". In fact, it looked like our daughter had a huge portion of her head missing. (she does not, and in fact came out just fine).

Others seem to get great images; we did not.
posted by pkphy39 at 12:48 PM on January 13, 2010

I came to say what zizzle said, but she said it very well. So: what zizzle said.
posted by bunnycup at 12:56 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Eh, having had three babies, I'd pass. When you're pregnant with your first, you feel like you just can't wait to see what he'll look like or whether he's a boy for sure. But eventually the baby shows up, and you know what he looks like, and he's a boy (YMMV on that last bit). I wouldn't bother with any test that didn't provide essential--or at least very useful--information about the baby's health, or mine, especially if I had to spend money on it that could be better spent on a massage or a dinner out with my partner while we could still do that without hiring a babysitter.
posted by not that girl at 1:46 PM on January 13, 2010

We've had them done with both our kids. Luckily, insurance covered it for both.
Even if it hadn't and we'd footed the bill ... it would have been worth it. Both kids gave us tremendous views of their faces and the shots we kept on the fridge were eerily life-like next to the newborn pictures of them.

As others have said, you may end up with nothing because of arms, legs, cord, etc ... but if you're lucky and have a patient tech, you'll get a good one.
posted by damiano99 at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2010

Our "4D" ultrasound gave us some pretty cool shots of the alien baby(what was said previously about the lack of fat was pretty accurate for us).

I'm not sure, though, I'd have paid unless it was pretty cheap, less than $50 say. I also wouldn't make a separate appointment, but if it was an "upgrade" to a regular ultrasound, I might have said "why not, we're already here".
posted by madajb at 3:25 PM on January 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everybody!

If I were to get the ultrasound I was going to go to a reputable place that does diagnostic ultrasounds for doctors (not a place in the mall). My midwife said that it was ultimately my decision since there have been no studies that suggest that ultrasounds are harmful.

My husband and I discussed it after reading through this and have decided to NOT get the elective ultrasound. We would have to spend close to $200 for it which is money that could be better spent on many different things, especially since it's been mentioned that you do not always get a great view of the baby. It'll just be a surprise what the little guy looks like after he is born :)
posted by lilgoyl at 9:28 AM on January 14, 2010

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