SIDNEY — The smile on Tiffany Beckstedt’s face couldn’t have been wider.
The Sidney resident lay on a table Tuesday in the Thomas J. Boecker Professional Building of Wilson Health, looking at a screen that showed her an ultrasound picture of her baby, still in the womb.
Ultrasound photos have been around for a long time. But this ultrasound was different. The three-dimensional photo gave Tiffany a really clear picture of Sadie’s face. Sadie’s first portrait.
“She has her father’s nose,” Beckstedt said with delight.
Then, the four-dimensional video showed Sadie moving around, waving her arms, touching her tiny mouth with tiny fingers.
Any mother-to-be would smile. And now any mother-to-be can.
Wilson Health acquired the equipment and began offering optional 3D and 4D ultrasound to area women in mid-July.
“It’s an open, elective service. A woman doesn’t have to be a Wilson patient,” said Christa Meyer, manager of the Wilson Health Medical Group OB/GYN & Pediatric Groups.
All Wilson Health pregnant patients get 2D ultrasound for diagnostic reasons as a matter of course.
“Two-D is enough, but 3D is fun to do,” said Dr. Valerie Schulte, OB medical director. “Our patients were going to other places to have (3D and 4D ultrasound) done — to south Dayton, Columbus, Troy. Here, they’re coming to a place they’re already comfortable with. It’s our department, not like going over to radiology. It improves the patient experience.”
The process involved for 3D and 4D ultrasound is the same as for 2D. Esther Mitchell is the sonographer who does the procedure.
“You have to have special transducers, cameras. Three-D gives a still picture; 4D shows movement,” she said. She applies a gel to the skin of a pregnant woman and then rubs a camera in a plastic bulb over the skin. The photos are transmitted to a computer screen, which saves then and prints them. Depending on the package that a patient purchases, the woman receives still photos and a CD video to share with people at home.
Family members don’t have to stay at home, however.
“We’re encouraging them to bring all their family in — grandparents, siblings,” Meyer said.
“It’s like a family experience,” Schulte added.
The technology has been available for 10 or 12 years, but it has been refined in that time and Wilson Health has the latest edition.
The 20-minute procedure is not paid for by most insurance companies. There is no risk to the fetus or to the mother.
“It’s more about finding out gender and getting real cool pictures of the baby,” Schulte said.
“I’ve tried to do other things, but people really want to see faces,” Mitchell said.
Beckstedt’s pregnancy was in its 35th week. Wilson Health recommends that the 3D/4D procedure be done between the 26th and 36th week. It offers three packages: the Sneak Peak Gender package is recommended at 15 weeks. It costs $75 and includes a 15-minute, 2D scan for gender determination and provides black and white printed images.
The 3D/4D Deluxe package costs $120. It involves the 20-minute scan and gender determination and provides color, as well as black and white, printed images and a CD video of moving images.
The Pemium Double Take package costs $185. It combines the other two packages and is done in two appointments, one at 15 to 26 weeks and the second at 26 to 36 weeks. The medical group also offers gift certificates for the procedures, so family members can surprise a mom-to-be with the opportunity to see her baby’s face.
The ultrasound procedures are provided by appointment only.
“Currently, we do them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we’re going to be adding a third day soon,” Meyer said.
When asked what she was thinking as she looked at the video of Sadie, who will be her second child, Beckstedt said, “I’d like to have her now.” The bright smile never left her face and her eyes never left the screen.
“For my friends, finding out the sex at 20 weeks isn’t good enough any more,” said Melissa Armstrong, Wilson Health senior marketing-communications specialist and herself, pregnant. “With this, we’re able to know at 15 weeks (and then later see so much more).”
For information or to schedule an ultrasound appointment, call 498-5373.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.