3-D ultrasound allows parents to see the unborn baby in three dimensions as she would look if one could see her face to face at that moment. Professor L Rossetti states in his book Communication Intervention: Birth to Three (Singular Publishing) that ultrasound has a strong influence on the bonding between the mother and her unborn child.
3-D Ultrasound, Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Research on the prenatal bonding process have shown that parents’ smoking and alcohol consumption are reduced in relation to what the parents perceive on the ultrasound screen. Mothers who have seen their baby on ultrasound are also less likely to terminate the pregnancy and find it harder to deal with a miscarriage.
Seeing a Baby’s Face with 3-D Ultrasound
Many pregnant couples spend time wondering what their baby’s face is going to look like. By the fourth month of pregnancy, the baby’s face start to look like a human face and a month later the baby has eyelashes and eyebrows. The baby starts opening her eyes during the seventh month of pregnancy and it is also during this time (28-30 weeks) that a 3-D scan of the baby’s face will provide the clearest picture.
Sunelle Maÿ, a sonographer at N1 City Hospital in Cape Town says that many variables influence the quality of the image obtained. The amount of amniotic fluid can influence the clarity of the picture and if the placenta covers some of the face, the baby may look strange and parents might get a fright. This can be corrected by using the computer to “cut away” the layers so that a clearer picture can be obtained.
A second visit is advised if the baby won’t show her face. If a mother has a very thick layer of stomach fat the quality of the image can also be hampered. Twins are a bit more trickier to see, but patience and an experienced sonographer can usually get a good image.
3-D Ultrasound as Bonding Tool
Dr. Madelein Carstens, an ultrasonologist and specialist in fetal medicine in Stellenbosch has been doing prenatal ultrasound assessment for 20 years. She says that she was amazed to see the facial expressions of the unborn babies when she got her 3-D ultrasound machine. She uses her 3-D machine complementary to her 2-D ultrasound assessment mainly to enhance the experience for parents and to show them certain structures in more detail.
According to Dr. Joseph Woo, a researcher in Hong Kong, 3-D scans done prenatally are often called “reassurance scans” and researchers seem to agree that 3-D scans will not replace 2-D scans but rather complement it as diagnostic tool.