Ultrasound is a common topic on our blog and if you are a sonographer, especially at a 3D/4D ultrasound center, you probably know everything about thermal papers, the basic guidelines for medical printer maintenance, and the DICOM parameters to obtain accurate images. In this article, we want to share some insights and tips to give your patients for better 3D/4D ultrasound images.
Even though prenatal ultrasound started as a practice to detect congenital anomalies, multiple-gestation pregnancies, fetal growth disorders, placental abnormalities, and errors in the estimation of gestational age; nowadays, its use has expanded and it’s available for moms and their families to have a memorable experience with the baby.
In a paper published in Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the authors said that between 1990 and the 2000s there was a rise in the proportion of women being offered prenatal ultrasound screenings that went from 40% to 70% respectively. They also reported that many women don't actually see ultrasound as a medical option to discard abnormalities, but rather as a modality that's simply used to see the baby, experience the pregnancy as more real, and discover the baby's gender.
Additionally, a study published in Sociology of Health and Illness showed that seeing the baby via ultrasound helped men feel closer to the baby and enhanced the father's role by increasing his commitment to the mother and the baby as well as enhancing his understanding of the pregnancy and the woman's needs.
With all these benefits on the table, 3D/4D ultrasound centers have increased in popularity, and 44% of the parents’ reasons to visit them are for non-diagnostic purposes. Instead, the growth of this sector is fueled by the excitement of seeing the baby in 3D/4D and keeping a high-quality image as a souvenir, and sometimes even getting to keep the recording of the baby's heartbeat in a plush toy.
In order to offer your patients and their families an unforgettable experience, here are some recommendations you can pass on to them:
Communication is key
During 3D/4D ultrasound scans, there are several physical and environmental factors, including the sonographer's behavior, that can contribute to the patient's perception of the experience as something positive or negative.
This is an exciting moment that women and their families will remember forever, so make sure that they feel welcomed and comfortable during the screening. Remember that expecting mothers are emotional and want to know everything about the baby. As a sonographer, the best approach you can take is to be very communicative, describe everything you see, and don’t be afraid to even explain technical terms.
Pregnant women usually are open-minded and willing to learn and understand more about their babies and the process they are living through. 3D/4D ultrasound imaging allows them to see even more than a traditional 2D scan and sonographers have the special task of making sure they get the most out of this unique experience.
Make sure the patient is hydrated
Although you can’t control what your patients do, it’s always a good idea to recommend that they stay hydrated. Make sure to mention and remind them of the importance of maintaining an adequate intake of fluids for better images.
Take the time to explain the relationship between fluids and ultrasound and why they need to drink a proper amount of liquids at least one week prior to the appointment to get optimal results and clear images.
Explaining the routine process you perform every day will increase your reliability and trust in yourself as a professional.
Source: 3D Baby Boutique
In the same order, especially for patients who find it hard to drink water, you can also recommend that they consume a natural juice specifically before the appointment (30 minutes before). They will thank you once they see their baby moving around.
Ask them to eat before the scan
Most people tend to recommend pregnant women ingest fizzy drinks, sweet treats or caffeine to make the baby move thanks to a rise in blood sugar levels. However, none of this is necessary because blood sugar rises after regular meals and healthy snacks too. So, as the ultrasound professional, the best tip you can always give expecting moms is to stay healthy for their baby and avoid junk food.
Recommend that they have a snack or eat something 45 minutes or an hour before attending the appointment so the baby can have that little extra boost of energy and that way you'll be able to provide the parents with a great image.
Reinforce the idea of "mother knows best"
Even if the baby is the main character, mothers love to have the attention and feel like they are in charge. Reinforce that thought that no one knows their baby better than them. Have them tell you everything about how they feel the baby, the times when they are more active, what stimulus causes the baby to react, in what position she thinks the baby is, etc.
Involving the mother in the process will give her a better experience and you will reinforce that connection between her and the baby by acknowledging her perception about the behavior of their son or daughter.
Help them to relax
As you probably know already, the calmer the mother is, the more active the baby will be. By providing a relaxing and quiet environment, the heart rate can be more easily tracked and the 3D/4D ultrasound images will be clearer. And the best way to achieve this is by creating a connection between the mom-to-be, the family, and you as the examiner.
Make sure to communicate the process from beginning to end and make them feel welcome and involved in the screening. Answer their questions and give clear instructions for future appointments, and of course, give them a memory that will last for years in their mind and in a long-lasting souvenir.
Part of providing an experience like no other in 3D/4D ultrasound centers relies on the quality of products and equipment you use for these types of screenings. ERI, the number one source of technology for medical imaging, offers a wide range of medical displays, medical printers, thermal papers and ultrasound supplies to give pregnant women and their families world-class care they will remember forever.