My Experience Getting a 4D Ultrasound at 27 Weeks: Probably Worth It

My mom is so excited to become a grandma, but with Covid restrictions she hasn't been able to come to any of my ultrasound appointments. I booked an elective ultrasound for 27 weeks, 2 days at a fancy little place called Sneak Peek ultrasound in Chesapeake, Virginia so she could share in the experience.

The Cost: A 30 minute 2D, 3D, and 4D HD Live Ultrasound package was advertised at $80, with a 10% military discount. I was billed $93.43, but didn't get an itemized receipt and didn't realize until I checked my credit card statement. When they began, the technician asked if I wanted a flash drive of video from the ultrasound - this seemed like something that would be included with a 4D scan, but I guess there was an additional charge for that. Make sure you ask before saying yes! I'll probably never look at this flash drive. Still, this was a very reasonable cost for the value!

The Experience: The beautifully decorated space felt more like a boutique day spa than a clinical setting! They had a giant screen for viewing, plush seating for family, and the exam table was covered in real pillows and sheets. To be nit-picky, the ultrasound gel wasn't heated. 9 out of 10 :)

Their Tips for the Best Images: Hydrate very well- they recommended a gallon of water per day in the week leading up to the scan. Stay out of the heat of the day (wasn't difficult in Virginia in January) the day of the appointment. Don't eat for 2 hours before the appointment. Drink something sweet and caffeinated (Dr Pepper!) 5 to 10 minutes before the scan.

Gender: A gender determination can be done by most elective 3D studios starting at 15 weeks.

The Scan: I followed all of these tips and my baby was still pretty sleepy! If they sleep 18-20 hours a day as a newborn, it's reasonable to expect there's a good chance baby is asleep at any given time in the womb. She had her hands right over her face and it was very difficult to try to get her to move them. I have an anterior placenta, which got in the way for a few cute face shots but the technician was able to work around it for the most part. The sonographer was very experienced and had lots of tricks to get her awake and moving, but most of the 30 minute scan was spent tapping on my belly and wiggling my hips.

The Results: I got a total 126 images from my 30 minute scan. However, this number is a bit inflated- every good image is repeated 5 to 10 times with slightly different highlighting and shadows:

And there were lots of bad images. Many made me say, are you sure that's a human baby and not a blob? What's wrong with her skull? Will she have duck lips forever? That slice of her face looks like a fine art statue.

After weeding through the duplicates, the slices of face, and the blobs, I was left with 6 favorite images:

Timing: If you're only getting one, I think 27-30 weeks would be a perfect time to plan an elective ultrasound- she's starting to develop some fat on her face so she doesn't look as creepy or skeleton-like as she did at the 20 week anatomy scan. She still has lots of room to move around, and hasn't settled into an unfavorable position yet.

Overall: This was an excellent way to spend an afternoon and $100 :) It helped me feel more bonded with my baby- I knew logically that I'm growing a human but seeing a 3D face really solidified it for me. My mom enjoyed it; she cried looking at the pictures and printed some out for her fridge. I would recommend it, as long as you won't be disappointed if your images don't look like the ones on the brochure!