What is 4D Scanning? (4)
4D scanning is the best opportunity to really see, and bond with your baby, before it is born. We use advanced imaging technology to turn a conventional ultrasound into a real 3D image of your baby, which you can see, in real time (4D), moving around your womb, giving you a glimpse of your baby’s personality, as well as their face.
As part of your NHS treatment you will receive ultrasound scans during your pregnancy, at 12 weeks and 20 weeks. From the NHS point of view, these are purely diagnostic scans, to ensure your baby is developing correctly, but from the parents’ point of view, they hold far more emotional significance, they are the moment you are able to see your baby for the first time. The NHS recognise this, and even let you pay for a photo during these scans.
However, the scanning equipment used by the NHS is designed only for diagnostic purposes, it does not have this important emotional connection with your baby in mind. You can only see a 2D cross section of your baby, including their bone structure, and maybe a faint outline of their features.
Our equipment is able to perform all the same diagnostic functions, which allows us to perform a full peace-of-mind, wellbeing scan with every visit, as well as a gender confirmation scan if you wish. But our scanning technology has been further developed to enhance the emotional, bonding experience of really meeting your baby for the first time. Advanced 3D imaging software, called iLive, intelligently creates light and shadow, and realistic skin tones, to enable you to see a fully fleshed out 3D picture of your baby.
And because it all happens in real time, where you are able to watch your baby move, yawn, suck their thumb and sometimes even smile, it is known as a 4D scan – the 4th dimension refers to the real time movement.
We are able to capture these images and movement for you on a range of photos and video options, which you can share with your friends and family, and even show to the baby one day.
Yes, 4D scanning is considered to be perfectly safe.
3D and 4D scanning uses the same ultrasound technology that hospitals use during normal diagnostic scans, the technology simply includes more advanced imaging software, which creates the 3D image.
This technology has been used for many years, and there is no current evidence of any biological risk to mother and foetus associated with obstetric ultrasound scans. (Obstetric ultrasound, biological effects and safety (no 160, June 2005) SOGC clinical practice guidelines from JOGC)
Despite this, we take the safety of you and your baby very seriously, and see no need to take any unnecessary risks. We have adopted the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Possible) principle. This means that we have our equipment set to the lowest possible settings, whilst imposing a maximum amount of time we will expose your baby to the ultrasound. Therefore even our longest scans will not last for more than 20 minutes.
We also follow BMUS (British Medical Ultrasound Society) guidelines for the safe use of diagnostic ultrasound equipment, and we regularly update our procedures based on BMSU guidance.
For added peace-of-mind, we only use the most advanced, modern equipment available, which is regularly serviced.
If you have any doubts, please feel free to ask advice from your own doctor or midwife before visiting us.
Hey Baby 4D is proud to be registered with the CQC (Care Quality Commission). The CQC make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care.
This means that we have been rigorously tested and screened to ensure that all of our sonographers and staff are fully qualified, that our working practices are safe and that we provide a service of exceptional quality.
Our CQC provider ID is:
Liverpool: The Liverpool clinic is currently undergoing the CQC registration process.
Meet the Mindray DC-70 with iLive. This is the ultrasound scanner that powers all of our scans. It is the absolute top of it’s class for 4D baby scanning and diagnostic ultrasound. It encompasses a range of cutting edge technologies, like an Echo-enriched Beamformer and 3T Traducer Technology to capture flawless 2D, 3D and 4D images in stunning high definition.
Whereas many clinics will use older generation, refurbished scanners, we insist that all of our clinics open with brand new scanners, using the most up to date technology.
You will be amazed at the difference in quality of even the 2D images, compared with what you might get at your 20 week NHS scan. And the iLive ensures the best quality images on your 3D and 4D scans.
We are confident that using this cutting edge technology is the only way to get the very best images of your baby before it is born.
What is iLive?
Integrating traditional ray casting algorithms with new virtual lighting modality, iLive generates amazingly detailed pictures of your bundle of joy with realistic skin tones and shadows, bringing the 3D image to life.
We are able to change the imaginary light source, enabling us to play with a variety of effects and pick up little details about your baby that you otherwise wouldn’t notice.
The Hey Baby Experience (5)
Each type of scan has a primary objective. If this primary objective is not achieved, then a rescan is guaranteed. This ensures that, one way or another, you can be sure that your objective will be achieved.
2D Reassurance Scan
The primary objective is to find your baby’s heartbeat, as well as weights and dates.
If this cannot be achieved, it might not be anything serious, it could just mean that your dates are not quite right, and you have come in too early for our abdominal probe to pick up a heartbeat. This is why we must be strict about performing abdominal scans no earlier than 8 weeks. If your chosen clinic is equipped with a trans-vaginal probe, then internal scans can be performed from as little as 6 weeks, and may be offered at this point, or we will simply book you in for a rescan.
However, if the sonographer deems that this is indicative of something more serious, or discovers any other anomalies, then she will immediately refer you to the appropriate NHS service, with a report and any relevant images. In this case, you will not require a rescan as you will now be under the care of the NHS.
For Late Pregnancy Reassurance Scans (30+ weeks), the primary objective remains the same, but we will endeavour to capture 3D and 4D images, if there is time within your allotted appointment (after achieving the primary objective), and if the baby is in the right position. You can then choose to purchase these images separately.
However, these images are a bonus, and not part of the primary objective. If we cannot capture them, we are not obliged to offer a rescan. If you’re primary objective is to capture high quality 3D & 4D images, then please book one of our 3D Photo or 4D Video Packages instead.
3D Gender Scan
The primary objective is to determine the gender with confidence.
If we cannot do this at the first attempt, because your baby’s legs are crossed, or the umbilical cord is in the way, we will schedule a free rescan. If your schedule and ours allows, this could be on the same day, otherwise we will book you into the next available slot.
This is not something the NHS will do at your 20 week scan, because finding the gender is not their primary objective. So only with one of our 3D Gender Scans can you guarantee that the gender will be determined, even if it’s not on the first attempt.
We will endeavour to capture 3D and 4D images, if there is time within your allotted appointment (after achieving the primary objective), and if the baby is in the right position. You can then choose to purchase these images separately.
However, these images are a bonus, and not part of the primary objective. If we cannot capture these images, we are not obliged to offer a rescan. If you’re primary objective is to capture high quality 3D & 4D images, then please book one of our 3D Photo or 4D Video Packages instead.
4D Video Packages
The primary objective is to achieve high quality 3D & 4D images.
If the baby is in a bad position, and is not posing for the camera, or you are simply not satisfied with the quality of the images, then we will book you in for a rescan. In some cases the sonographer may make this decision for you. She will normally be able to tell very early into a scan if the baby is in a good position for the best quality images.
You may not be offered the next available appointment. The sonographer will be able to advise when would be best to come back in, as in some cases it might be best to wait a week or two for best results.
The images from your first scan will not be destroyed. These can still be put on your CD when you return for your rescan.
You must request a rescan before you leave the clinic. We cannot guarantee a rescan will be granted once you have left.
After 30 weeks, the quality of the images is very much all or nothing. The baby could be too big to be able to capture high quality images, but if they are in the right position, then the images are among the best we can see. If you come for your scan or rescan at 30 weeks, then we will book you in for a rescan at 30+ weeks. Your guaranteed rescan is valid throughout the full term of your pregnancy. However, if we are still unable to capture high quality 3D and 4D images, then we will downgrade the package to a Late Pregnancy Reassurance Scan (£59), and refund you accordingly.
NB: Promotional rates will not be taken into account, so if you used vouchers to only pay £69, for example, then you will be refunded £10.
We understand it can be inconvenient to come back for a rescan, especially if you have travelled some distance. Despite this, a part or full refund cannot be given in lieu of a rescan. You must at least give us the chance to achieve the objective during a rescan before we consider downgrading the package to a Late Pregnancy Reassurance Scan.
All of our scanning packages, even the 2D packages, include the Hey Baby Experience. After we have completed our wellbeing checks, and optional gender confirmation, in traditional black and white 2D, we will switch the scanner to display a full colour, 4D image.
Suddenly your baby will no longer be a barely discernible shape on the screen, but a fully fleshed out little person. You will be able to watch in fascination as your baby sucks their thumb or rubs their eyes. You can see all their tiny fingers and toes in incredible detail, and find out whose ears or nose they have.
Even on our most basic of packages we give you twice as much time as as most other clinics for your appointment. This extra time is precious as it allows you to get a real sense of the person your baby will become. And with our 4D Video package you are able to take every minute of this footage home with you, so that your friends and family can share the experience. You’ll love seeing the look of joy on their faces, just like we love seeing it on yours.
Whether or not you choose to take the photos or DVD home with you, the experience itself will stay with you forever.
Before your scan
When you contact us to book your appointment we will confirm some details, like how far along your pregnancy you are.
We recommend that you eat 1-2 hrs before the scan. We also have complementary soft drinks and sweet snacks in reception. The small sugar boost encourages your baby to be more active for the scan.
Ensure you remain well hydrated throughout your pregnancy, but especially for 5 days before your scan for the very best results. For scans at under 20 weeks a full bladder is helpful.
Please ensure you have your antenatal record book to hand, if you have been given it, as you will need to bring this to your scan.
Aim to arrive a few minutes prior to your scheduled appointment so that we can get your paperwork out of the way, and maximise the time you can spend with your baby. If you are late, we will do our best to fit you in, but cannot guarantee that you will get the full scan time.
On the day
When you are first welcomed into the Hey Baby clinic, we will first ask for your antenatal records and ask you to complete a short consent form explaining that the scan is purely for bonding and not medical purposes. We will offer you a complementary drink and sweet snack while you wait.
PLEASE NOTE YOU WILL NEED TO HAVE YOUR ANTENATAL RECORDS WITH YOU (IF YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THEM)
- Getting comfortable
When you are shown into the scanning room, our experienced, NHS qualified sonographer will put you at ease, explain the scanning process to you, and make you and any guests, feel comfortable before commencing the scan. There is plenty of space for guests in the clinic (up to 4), so feel free to invite friends and family to share the experience.
- Wellbeing scan
All of our packages start with a basic wellbeing scan, where we will check your baby’s development (the ‘weights & dates’), position and heartbeat. This scan does not replace your 12 week dating scan, or your 20 week anomaly scan, so it is important that you keep all of your appointments with your midwife. However, it is only sensible to make these checks while we have the opportunity.
- Gender confirmation and 2D photos
Once these checks have been made, we will check the gender, if you wish, and the 2D photos will be taken. If you don’t want to know, then we will do our best to make sure it remains a surprise.
- Making sure the baby is ready
If your baby is feeling camera shy, we will not simply ‘make do’. We may send you for a little walk around the clinic, or even around the City Centre, or offer another complementary drink or snack, before we try again. If this still doesn’t work, you have the option to make another appointment, at no further cost, and we will try again on another day
- The Hey Baby 4D Experience
Once your baby is in the perfect pose, we commence with the Hey Baby 4D experience, where we will switch the monitor to stunning 4D, and you, like many parents before you, will not be able to help yourself from shouting, “Hey Baby!” as you meet your child for the first time. If you have chosen a package that includes 3D photos and 4D video, then we will start recording straight away, and capture as much as possible. Depending on the package you have chosen, you may then have up to 20 minutes to study your baby’s face, and get to know their quirks and individual mannerisms.
- Choosing your images
Finally, you will be able to select the images you would like to be printed. Depending on your package, the sonographer may do this with you, and print thermal images directly from the scanner, or you may go through the images with the receptionist. This is also your opportunity purchase any extras that are not included in your package, like extra prints, a download of all the images or video, or even a newborn photo shoot. The receptionist will talk you through your options.
Our sonographers are very experienced, and will do their best to find the very best images possible. However, certain factors, like the position of the placenta, a camera shy baby, or even Mum’s BMI, can make it unavoidably difficult to take the perfect picture.
In these cases, we will not simply settle for a bad picture. We are flexible and have several options. We might send you for a walk around the clinic, or offer you a complementary sweet snack or drink to wake the baby up.
If this doesn’t work, we can invite you back for another appointment at no extra cost. However, this offer is limited to just one extra appointment per customer, and is at the discretion of the sonographer. We will save the images from your first appointment, and the images from your second, to ensure you leave with the best possible 3D images of your baby.
Please see our rescan policy for more information.
The only scan that specifically looks for anomalies is the conventional scan performed by the NHS at around 20 weeks into your pregnancy. Your 4D scan is a self-elective, non-diagnostic scan.
It is important to note that your scan with us is a social scan only, and that finding anomalies is not the primary purpose. If an anomaly is later found that was not originally spotted during your scan with us, we cannot be held responsible.
However, we believe it would be remiss of us to not take the opportunity to check on your baby’s development, so we include a wellbeing scan with every appointment. This scan is not as comprehensive as the 20-week scan, and should not be considered a replacement, but we will check certain vital signs, such as the baby’s position, movement, heartbeat and sometimes measurements.
If we do discover anything that concerns us during this scan, our sonographers are very experienced, and are able to deal with any issues with sensitivity and professionalism. Anything we might find will have to be confirmed by the NHS, and our sonographers will be able to refer you to your midwife or the Pregnancy Assessment Unit straight away.
They will not let you leave without a report, any relevant images, and a plan of where to go, and what to do next.
Some of our clinics offer scans from as early as 6 weeks. At 6 weeks the baby is so small that it will often require the use of a transvaginal (TV) probe, to perform an internal scan.
We will always start the scan using the abdominal probe on your tummy. But if we can’t find the baby, this will not provide the reassurance you are looking for, so we will offer an internal scan.
An internal scan is obviously a very intimate process, but this service is only offered where the sonographer is fully qualified to use the TV probe, and where the correct equipment and infection control measures are in place. So you can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about, the scan is perfectly safe.
If you have any further questions about the internal scan, please contact us.