Diagnostic 4D Baby Scans Explained

4D Baby Scan
All ultrasound scans provide a fascinating glimpse of your baby as they are developing in the womb, showing their internal organs and measuring their growth.

They are always carried out for medical diagnostic purposes to gain insights into your baby’s health and wellbeing and not just to get a souvenir picture for all the family.

Sometimes though, a grainy black and white scan picture from a standard 2D NHS scan just can’t give you the clear image you would like to see and that’s why some parents opt to have more sophisticated diagnostic baby scans done privately using the latest 3D and 4D technology.

What 4D scans can offer

In the last 15 years private ultrasound companies such as Ultrasound Direct have been able to offer even more sophisticated 4D scan technology which enable you to see your baby in 3D moving in real time. These 4D ultrasound scan pictures are made by combining images taken from different angles to create a 3D picture which is then recorded on video giving it a fourth dimension.

Parents describe 4D scans as providing them with an extraordinary bonding moment, because they can see their babies up close and in great detail for the first time and say they find them very reassuring.

Although the primary purpose of a 4D scan must always be a diagnostic one to check your baby’s health, wellbeing and growth, it’s also possible to see facial characteristics quite clearly and their expressions, including smiling and frowning. You may also see them sucking their thumb or playing with their umbilical cord – it’s an amazing sneak preview of what your baby will be like when they are finally born. This is the next best thing to meeting your baby in person.

Your baby’s sex organs will also be visible too, (so you can if you wish, find out the sex of your baby). However, if you ask for the sex of your baby not to be revealed, the sonographer will keep quiet so your secret is kept safe.

A 4D scan will also include a growth report, an estimated fetal weight and an estimated due date as well.

When can you have a 4D baby scan?

4D baby scans are performed between 24 and 32 weeks in single pregnancies and between 20 and 26 weeks for multiple pregnancies, as a rough guideline. Private ultrasound companies offer different packages, but 4D consultations are usually between 20 and 40 minutes long.

Are 4D Ultrasound scans safe?

4D ultrasound scans have been available privately to consumers for at least 15 years and general ultrasound scans for pregnant women have been used for 50 years with no ill effects found.

Companies such as Ultrasound Direct act responsibly though and operate the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle, so your baby is not exposed unnecessarily to any risks. 

Check your provider of 4D baby scans also conforms with current published guidelines for thermal exposure values - so you can be reassured your is scan safe for you and your baby. Companies who provide 4D ultrasound in the UK are inspected by the Care Quality Commission, and all staff should be ultrasound healthcare professionals specifically qualified and experienced to work in antenatal care.

Are 4D ultrasound scans more expensive?

They are actually very affordable at around £95 for a 20 diagnostic appointment, including a wellbeing check, growth report with fetal weight estimation, complimentary sexing of your baby if requested, 2D and 3D b/w prints and Ultrasound Direct toMobile that realtime delivers your scan images and mini-clips direct to your mobile.

Where can I watch an example of a 4D scan?

Ultrasound Direct have their own online picture gallery of 4D baby scans where you can get some idea of the sort of images you can see with a 4D scan.

For more information on 4D baby scans go to Ultrasound Direct