Ballpark Estimate: $100 to $300
One of the most exciting parts of having a new baby is getting to see his or her face for the very first time. Now, thanks to the latest advances in modern technology, you may not have to wait until after labor. With 3D ultrasounds (also called 3D sonograms), you can get a very precise picture of your infant from right inside the womb.
How Sonograms Work
An ultrasound is a noninvasive imagining technique that utilizes sound waves in order to capture a view inside of the body. To this end, the ultrasound technician uses a special probe to pass sound through the expect mother’s body. In the simplest terms, the sound passing through the tissue produces echoes that the ultrasound machine can then translate to create a moving picture of what’s inside the womb. With 2D sonogram equipment (the form of ultrasound or sonogram typically used today in prenatal visits), the echoes can be used to reveal the baby layer by layer, enabling the technician to get a good look at the baby’s developing organs and limbs. This is important to ensure that everything is progressing as it should, but the 2D image probably won’t provide enough depth to clearly show the baby’s facial expression.
Benefits of 3D Ultrasounds
When you invest in the cost of 3D ultrasound, this technique uses more sophisticated equipment that enables the technician get images of the baby from different angles, which are then combined together to provide a realistic three-dimensional view. This means that you can get a close up of your baby and see the expression first-hand.
In addition to providing a meaningful first glimpse of your baby, many scientists believe that 3D ultrasounds also have the potential to provide important information about the health and development. However, as of 2011, 3D ultrasounds are not considered to be medically necessary for most expectant mothers. Therefore, the majority of health insurance companies consider this an optional procedure, and they don’t cover 3D ultrasound costs. Nonetheless, many expectant couples decide to dig into their own pockets to come up with the money to pay for the 3D ultrasound costs. In the future, some experts predict that 3D ultrasounds will become a standard part of the prenatal process.
How to Find
Some medical centers, especially those that handle high-risk pregnancies, do have imaging suites that can perform 3D ultrasounds. You can ask your obstetrician for a referral to a facility that regularly does 3D ultrasounds, or you can do a search online yourself to find out where you can access this technology in your area. Some of the types of directories you can use online to locate a local facility that does 3D imaging include 3D Ultrasounds, 1-800-Sonogram, and 3D Sonogram.
Just keep in mind that your doctor will probably require you to have a 2D ultrasound for medical purposes even if you desire a 3D version for personal reasons. You might consider having both done at the same facility and asking up front if you can get a discount by combining the sessions. If so, the savings could help you to offset the 3D ultrasound costs.
Some doctors recommend that the best time to have a 3D ultrasound is in the 28 to 32 week development stage, when the baby is formed enough for you to get a clear look. In addition, you can use a 3D ultrasound to identify the baby’s sex. Some facilities will also allow you to bring family members and special friends with you to see the 3D ultrasound. If this interests you, be sure to ask up front if there’s a viewing area to accommodate other guests.
What You Should Know
It’s important to know going into the procedure that there’s no guarantee that the unborn child will cooperate with your desire to see the face. In addition, the level of amniotic fluid, as well as the mother’s size, can also affect the outcome of the 3D ultrasound. When the mother is larger, or if the fluid level around the baby is low, that can make the picture less clear.
If you’re concerned about whether you will be able to see a clear image of your baby, be sure to ask the ultrasound facility what types of strategies they use to try to get a better view. Sometimes having the mother consume some sugar, or having her move around a little, can get the baby to be more active and in a position that provides a clearer look. In case these efforts aren’t successful, you should find out before the 3D ultrasound whether center will allow you to come back and repeat the procedure again at no additional charge.
While in the ideal world the 3D ultrasound should give a good image of your baby’s face, you should also be aware that the umbilical cord sometimes gets in the way and can obstruct the view or can even give the appearance that your baby has some sort of strange hair on his or her face but you can rest assured that this isn’t true. In addition, your baby’s nose could appear squashed but this will be caused by the sonographer holding the probe too close to the baby. Often by having the technician back up a bit, you can get a more realistic view of the baby.
If you’re worried about whether there’s any risk involved in having a 3D ultrasound, the good news is that it doesn’t use any radiation or invasive techniques, and most medical experts confirm that it’s quite safe for both the mother and the baby.
Cost for a 3D Ultrasound
When considering 3D ultrasound costs, keep in mind that the price can vary depending on how long the imaging session lasts and how many views you request. Some places offer package deals, which will include photos of your baby (black and white or color, depending on what you select) or even a CD with different views.
On the low end, the price for a 3D ultrasound and a few black and white photos cost about $100. On the high end, the cost for a 3D ultrasound with some color printouts of a variety of views and a disc of the photos that you can share with family and friends can cost as much as $300.
So you can expect a price of between $100 and $300 for a 3D ultrasound.
Some facilities will also offer a teddy bear that has a recording of the unborn child’s heartbeat. This can cost in the $25 to $40 range.
In addition to 3D ultrasounds, some medical centers also offer 4D ultrasounds. Many people opt for the 3D and 4D imaging together. While the 3D provides a clear image of your child, the 4D adds in the baby’s movements, bringing the child to life for you right on the screen. Many facilities will include the 4D ultrasound in with a larger 3D ultrasound package and will also provide you with a DVD of the child moving as part of the session. This means that for a small investment, you can have keepsakes of your unborn child that your whole family can cherish forever.