Are private ultrasound scans worth paying for? This is a simple question that hopefully I can help you with.
The National Health Service Scans - UK
In England our National Health Service provides us with two scans during pregnancy. The first is at around 12 weeks gestation and the second is at 20 weeks gestation. Some may wonder, then, why any private ultrasound scans that you pay for are needed.
The NHS scans that are offered in my local area are 2 Dimensional (2D) and the photos you get to take home are also in 2D. They prefer for you to have only one person accompanying you. We found this out when we took my mother-in-law to my first baby’s 20 week scan and were met with very clear disapproval that we’d done so!
After I had my 12 week initial NHS scan for my second pregnancy, my husband and I decided that we would like to find out the gender of our baby at the next scan if possible. We knew that this was something that they usually agree to tell you if they can see the baby’s genitals on the scan.
The excitement built up as the scan drew closer, but I knew in the back of my mind that there was a chance that they wouldn’t be able to tell us. This chance became a reality.
We arrived early at the hospital and went through the formalities of handing in my pregnancy notes and signing a consent form. We waited patiently in the waiting room, which was gradually filling up more and more. We were called into the scanning room by the same sonographer who did my 12 weeks scan and the rest is practically a blur.
Of course, these NHS sonographers have lots of patients to see and lots of things to check with each baby to make sure everything is as it should be. So you get to see your baby’s heart, lungs, kidneys, bladder, arms and legs, head, the placenta, the spine (the list goes on) all at super-quick speed.
Everything appeared to be fine. Then it was time to try to see whether our baby was a boy or a girl. Unfortunately our baby’s legs were right in front of the genitals. The sonographer tried one more time but our baby hadn’t moved at all, so that was it! We were ushered out with a couple of photographs of the baby’s profile and the frustration of still being none the wiser as to whether we were going to have a boy or a girl.
It was at this point that the thought of private ultrasound scans first popped into my head. I had no idea how much one might cost, but I knew I wanted to find out.
The Babybond Scan
My initial searches online for private ultrasound scans lead me to the Babybond website. I saw they had a clinic in my local area and that they offer a wide range of pregnancy scans including the following:
1. Early Pregnancy Scan - 7 to 11 weeks – To check your tiny baby is developing as it should be.
2. Dating Scan – 10 to 16 weeks – To check your dates are correct, your sonographer will take measurements of the baby and inform you if your due date needs to be changed.
3. NT Scan & Bloods Analysis 11 to 13 weeks and 6 days gestation – NT stands for Nuchal Translucency and it’s the scan that is carried out to assess the risk of Down’s Syndrome.
4. Anomaly Scan – 19 to 24 weeks – To check your baby’s organs and measurements are all as they should be and pick up on any abnormalities or problems.
5. 2D Growth Scan – 24 to 34 weeks – To verify the growth and estimated weight of your baby, including sexing of the baby if requested.
6. Gender Scan – 16 to 34 weeks – To identify your baby’s gender and includes a general well-being check (heartbeat, movements, general development and environment).
7. Presentation Scan – 35 weeks to term – To check baby’s position in the womb and the position of the placenta. Includes a general well-being check and sexing of the baby if requested.
Benefits Of The Babybond Private Ultrasound Scans
The scan I wanted was the Gender Scan with a DVD to take home, so I emailed Babybond to arrange an appointment. I was amazed at their availability, imagining they would be booked up for ages, but the scan was arranged for a week later.
With Babybond you can choose private ultrasound scans that include seeing your baby in 4D. This, as opposed to 2D allows you to see your baby’s facial features as a 3D moving image and you can get more of an idea of what your baby looks like. You can also take home still photos of your baby in 4D and a DVD of the scan.
They were very helpful, advising me that the best time to see my baby in 4D would be from about 26 weeks onwards because the baby has grown more then and appears more plump and filled out. But they were also very obliging in letting me come in at 22 weeks for the scan so that I could find out my baby’s sex as soon as possible.
When I went for the scan I was impressed by the standard of décor and comfort at the clinic. Everything had been finished to a very high standard and made you feel like you were getting extra special treatment.
I was treated with utmost respect and everything felt very calm and peaceful there.
The Gender Scan, with the 4D aspect lasts about 30 minutes, so you have time to ask lots of questions and don’t feel rushed in any way. Lots of lovely time to watch your baby on the screen and take it all in.
Because you can opt to take home a DVD of your scan, your private ultrasound scan need not be an experience only to be shared by you or your partner. Indeed, I believe that Babybond are happy for you to bring along relatives, perhaps aged grandparents, to see the scan. But even if you don’t have them there in the room with you, you can bring home your experience to share with your friends and relatives and this makes it very unique.
You have no worries about whether they will get it wrong or not be able to see and send you home disappointed. Babybond boasts around a 99% accuracy rate for their Gender Scan. If your baby is in the wrong position they will ask you to take a walk or have something to eat to move the baby and then try again.
In very rare cases, after multiple attempts your Babybond sonographer may still be having difficulty identifying the genitalia. This is usually because some people are so impatient that they come in for a Gender Scan before they get to 16 weeks.
Before 16 weeks gestation the baby’s genitals are not well enough formed for it to be obvious whether it’s a boy or a girl, and this can make a sonographer’s job very hard. So, even if you are really desperate to find out, the ideal time to go in for a Gender Scan is around 18 weeks.
Certainly, if you go for the gender scan before 16 weeks you could end up disappointed and have to be booked in for a later date anyway, so ultimately, you still get to find out.
Reasons For Choosing Babybond Private Ultrasound Scans
I imagined that the main reason for people wanting a private scan would be to find out the gender of their baby, but I was surprised to learn that people choose all different scans for different reasons.
For some, whose partners have to work away, perhaps in the army, and miss out on the NHS scans, private ultrasound scans mean that they get to see their baby before it is born.
Others want second opinions about growth and anomaly scanning. For some women who have suffered miscarriage, early private ultrasound scans, before the 12 weeks NHS scan, allow them to check how the baby is doing and learn of any problems sooner rather than having to wait.
Having experienced a private scan myself, I can now fully see why someone would chose to pay for a scan just because it is a very special experience that leaves you with a close bond with your baby and mementos to take home and keep forever.
Babybond are extremely thorough and professional. They make having an ultrasound scan a very enjoyable and heart-warming experience and I would definitely recommend them.
They offer different packages, so you get to choose what you take home, whether its photos, a DVD, CD-ROM or a USB drive with your photos on it, and they put it in either a blue, white or pink Babybond bag.
So, having compared the free NHS scan with the Babybond in fairly quick succession, I can answer the question set out at the beginning.
Private ultrasound scans, in this case with Babybond, are definitely worth paying for. Why? Because they are something special and unique that you will remember forever. You get a much higher quality of treatment and the peace of mind that they will do everything in their power to make it a successful and satisfying experience. (Babybond is ISO Quality Endorsed and are registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), so they operate to high standards).