By Julia Crowley
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The 9 months of pregnancy are often filled with excitement and anticipation. Parents are eager to meet their unborn child and see his or her personality and features. But a new twist on a decades old tradition is giving parents a sneak peek.
For some 40 years doctors having been using 2D ultrasounds to show parents a flat, black and white snapshot of their unborn children. Then 3D technology brought in the dimension of volume so you could see the baby's face and features more clearly. But now there are 4D ultrasounds which add the aspect of live movement.
Debra Davis is a trained ultrasound technician who spent years working in doctors' offices. But now she performs 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasounds through her company "A Stork's View".
She says the 4D ultrasounds show the babies like never before. "We're able to watch the baby make faces," says Davis. "They yawn, they yell, they smile and they blow bubbles."
The process is similar to traditional ultrasounds. A cool gel is put on the mother's belly while laying down. A tool is rubbed over the belly while the images come up on the computer. But for 3D and 4D ultrasounds there is also slight vibration to capture the images.
Carmen Vasquez has visited "A Stork's View" twice already in her second pregnancy. An emotional Vasquez tears up as she watches her unborn child clearly open her eyes during the 4D ultrasound. "That I have never seen," says Vasquez. "She's perfect."
During Vasquez's 4D ultrasound she sees the baby yawn, roll over and move her feet and hands. "Just by seeing her you can kind of tell her personality," says Vasquez. The 3D feature also allows her to see the child's face giving her a clue as to who she'll look like. "She looks a lot like my husband," says Vasquez.
For most pregnant women, doctors do not offer 3D and 4D ultrasounds. They are used primarily in high-risk pregnancies. So the new emergence of businesses like "A Stork's View" offers parents a chance to pay for the technology themselves.
At "A Stork's View" packages including 3D and 4D ultrasounds starting at $170 and include the session, a video of the session and several options for pictures.
These businesses are often set up to hold large amounts of family members so the experience can be shared.
"We once had a grandmother who knew she was dying and wouldn't be here for the birth of her grandchild," says Davis. "So they brought her to the session so she could see the baby and meet her before the birth."
Davis says her job is a joyful one. "Up until now the parents haven't been able to see the baby," says Davis. "But by being able to see the unborn child, they put a personality to it and start planning baby names. They are happy, very happy." And Davis says that makes her happy too.
But The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend these ultrasound businesses saying pregnant women should only have ultrasounds for medical reasons.
However the local OB-GYN doctor First Coast News spoke to says 3D and 4D ultrasounds are typically safe. And if the business has a trained technician then the process should be fine for mother and baby.
First Coast News