Frequently Asked Questions
What is 4D Scanning?
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). You’ll see baby 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. 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 to allow 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 intelligently creates light and shadow and realistic skin tones to enable you to see an incredibly detailed 3D image 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, [insert link to packages page] 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 use 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, which 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.
All Hey Baby 4D clinics in England are 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 1-5311056158
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.
It is the absolute top of its 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.
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. The iLive software ensures the best quality images for 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.
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
If baby is playing hide and seek, we will always work with you to try to get them in the right position for the best images. If this isn't possible, we may be able to offer you a free rescan. See our Rescan Guarantee for more information.
Before your scan
We recommend that you eat 1-2 hrs before the scan. Complimentary drinks are available whilst you wait - just ask a member of our team. 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 complimentary drink and sweet snack while you wait.
2. Getting comfortable
When you are shown into the scanning room, our experienced 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 our clinics, so feel free to invite friends and family to share the experience.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 outside, or offer another complimentary 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. Please see our Rescan Policy [hyperlink] for terms and conditions.
6. The Hey Baby 4D Experience
Once your baby is in the perfect position, we commence with the Hey Baby 4D experience [hyperlink to Hey Baby 4D Experience page], 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.
7. 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, heartbeat bears or even a new-born photo shoot. Our lovely Receptionist will talk you through your options.
We only hire qualified and experienced Sonographers who will do their very best to obtain great images for you. However, certain factors, like the position of the placenta, a camera shy baby, or even Mum’s BMI, can make it unavoidably difficult to obtain 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 complimentary 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. This offer is limited to just one extra appointment per customer and is at the discretion of the Sonographer. In this scenario, we will save the images from both appointments to ensure you leave with the best possible 3D images of your baby.
Please see our rescan policy.
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. 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, so our Sonographers will 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.
Hey Baby 4D Watford 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 rest assured that our Sonographer is fully qualified to use the TV probe, and we have all of the correct equipment and infection control measures in place to ensure the safety of you and your baby at all times.
If you have any further questions about the internal scan, please contact us.