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How Accurate Are 3D Baby Scans?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

If you’re pregnant, then you’ve probably undergone at least one of your two baby scans so far. Hospitals in the United Kingdom will check your baby at 10 to 14 weeks and again at 18 to 21 weeks to ensure everything is going to plan.

But your prenatal ultrasound isn’t just a health check-up for you and your baby to be. It’s also an exciting opportunity for you to learn more about your little one. That’s especially true if you opt to have 3D baby scans.

You’ve certainly seen the images resulting from these high-tech scans—they reveal the baby’s features long before they make their way into the world. But really, how accurate are these screens? What can they tell you about the little one who you’ll soon meet?

Read on to find out all that you need to know about these three-dimensional ultrasounds.

What Are 3D Baby Scans?

Before we dive in, let’s go over the basics of a three-dimensional scan. A traditional ultrasound provides you a picture into your womb—and of your baby. But that image will be two-dimensional, showing you a basic picture of your little one.

Nowadays, though, you can have a more accurate scan that provides you with a three-dimensional image of your baby. These 3D scans result in printed photos that you can take home and share.

You might also choose a 4D baby scan. It’s the same as the 3D scan, except you’ll get a video of the little one growing inside of your womb, in addition to the images of what your baby looks like.

Regardless of what type of scan you choose, your and your baby’s health is of the utmost importance. As with a normal ultrasound, a 3D scan will incorporate heartbeat and positioning checks. Sonographers can use the images to confirm the baby’s gender and if you’re having multiples, too—the same as they would with a 2D image.

How Accurate Are Baby Scans in General?

In general, there’s a margin of error when it comes to ultrasound scans. It all depends on the person performing your scan, the machinery they use, the quality of the image, and more. Results tend to vary most in the following areas.

Due Date Prediction

For one thing, an ultrasound can help determine a more exact due date for you than tracking your last menstrual period. But that only applies in the first and second trimesters—due dates shouldn’t change based on an ultrasound after that.

Regardless of how clear the imaging is, most ultrasounds have a 1.2-week margin of error, meaning your provided due date can be slightly off. Most women will deliver on a day that was not the due date she expected. Surprisingly, only four per cent of expectant mums will go into labour naturally and give birth on that specified day.

Baby’s Gender

You might want to know your baby’s gender so that you can plan your nursery based on it. Perhaps you want to stock up on adorable fashions for your little boy or girl.

Most of the time, the ultrasound technician can tell your baby’s gender at your second ultrasound, the one at 18 to 21 weeks. Still, you’ve likely heard stories about how these predictions have been incorrect, and parents only found out when the baby was born.

Your baby’s positioning at the time of the gender ultrasound can affect gender predictions. Or perhaps the ultrasound takes place a bit too early and not all of their parts have developed, which can lead to an inaccurate determination of their gender.

Foetal Size

Finally, ultrasounds don’t do not allow doctors to predict a baby’s size with accuracy. Instead, they often find their predictions to be off by multiple pounds. An ultrasound image simply is not a good tool for estimating foetal size, and that applies to both underweight and those who are large for their gestational age.

Luckily, there are other tools out there to ensure your baby is going to reach a healthy weight. Your doctor will know how to use and deploy those methods, so there’s no need to worry about this common inaccuracy. You and your baby will be examined to ensure that your birth plan is the safest option out there.

Are 3D Baby Scans More Accurate?

Your 3D baby scan will provide you with all of the benefits of a normal pregnancy scan, as previously mentioned. Your technician will ensure the baby is developing healthily.

But there is one major difference: you will get a more accurate idea of what your baby looks like. The 3D imagery gets up close and personal with your little one. It will show you how their face really looks—a much clearer picture than what you get from the normal profile shot in 2D.

For many parents, this makes the decision to get a 3D scan a clear one—no pun intended. They find it makes the process that much more real and exciting.

In fact, some parents have said that the experience ended up being an emotional one. They have seen their baby’s face and determined who they look like, long before they actually arrive.

What Happens During a 3D Baby Scan?

A 3D baby scan will go a bit differently than the routine ones you’ll have with your doctor. At our Romford, Gloucester and Bristol locations, your appointment will take place between 24 and 30 weeks. And we use 4D technology so that you can watch and re-watch the three-dimensional video of your baby moving around in the womb.

Our HCPC-registered sonographer will bring you into our 4D scanning room, in which you’ll find 50-inch screens. They’ll project the images of your baby within your womb—the first video of your little one so far!

The sonographer will check your baby’s heartbeat and confirm that they remain in a safe and proper position. We can also confirm the baby’s gender if that hasn’t been done by your doctor yet.

We give you plenty of appointment time to ensure that we get to catch a glimpse of your baby in motion. If they are hiding, or if we produce unclear images, we will try again at a later time or date to capture them as promised.

And, at the end of the appointment, you’ll walk away with some keepsakes so you can show friends and family what the baby looks like. You’ll get prints of the 3D images and keyrings bedecked with the photo, too. You will also receive a digital copy of the entire scan so you can watch and re-watch the appointment video from start to finish.

Should I Get a 3D Ultrasound?

Ultimately, the type of prenatal ultrasound you need—or want—is up to you. It’s your baby and your pregnancy, so you get to decide if you want this additional service.

For many parents, though, it is rewarding to get the chance to see their baby so clearly before they arrive. And, because the scan takes place later in gestation, it can provide a bit of additional comfort. You’ll be reassured that everything is going well when your baby’s heartbeat and positioning are confirmed.

Some parents have admitted that they find 3D scans to be a bit too accurate. They say they’d prefer to wait and see the baby in real life.

So, be sure to search on the web for 3D ultrasound images so you know exactly what you’re getting. We don’t want you to be disappointed with the results of your scan or spoil the surprise of who your baby will look like.

But for most parents, that’s part of the fun. And no matter what, a baby scan is an experience that parents-to-be will never forget. Looking at that screen and seeing a baby for the first time means so much, regardless of whether the image is two- or three-dimensional.

I’m Ready for a 3D Scan

Now that you’ve brushed up on your knowledge about 3D baby scans, you may be ready to schedule one for yourself. We’re happy to hear it—and we can help you see your baby’s face for the first time.

Imaginatal is a professional-led clinic where we look after mums at all stages of pregnancy. You can also visit us for other health services, such as a well-woman visit or a fertility scan.

You can book an appointment at our Romford, Bristol or Gloucester clinic today. We look forward to seeing you—and seeing your baby’s face on the big screen.

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