Effects of ultrasound on maternal-fetal bonding: a comparison of two- and three-dimensional imaging




The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of two-dimensional (2DUS) compared to three-dimensional ultrasound (3DUS) imaging on the maternal-fetal bonding process.


Fifty mothers who had 2DUS and 50 who had 2DUS and 3DUS were included in the study. A postpartum survey by telephone interview was carried out to assess maternal-fetal bonding. Bonding was evaluated by analysis of extent of prenatal image sharing, maternal ability to form a mental picture of the baby and mother's comments about their ultrasound images. Data were analyzed using the independent t-test, Chi-square and Mann–Whitney U-tests.


Mothers who received 3DUS showed their ultrasound images to more people (median, 27.5; interquartile range, 14.5–40.0) than mothers receiving 2DUS alone (median, 11.0; interquartile range, 5.0–25.5) (P < 0.001, Z = −3.539). Eighty-two percent of the subjects screened with 3DUS had a greater tendency to form a mental picture of the baby postexamination compared to 39% of the 2DUS subjects (P < 0.001, Z = −3.614). Mothers receiving a 3DUS study were more likely to receive comments on the similarities/differences of the neonate compared to those having 2DUS studies. Furthermore, 70% of the mothers receiving 3DUS felt they ‘knew’ the baby immediately after birth vs. 56% of the mothers receiving 2DUS (P = 0.009, Z = −2.613). Both 2DUS and 3DUS experiences were positive, however, the comments made by the mothers undergoing 3DUS (n = 18) were more exclamatory (amazed, wonderful, fabulous) than those undergoing 2DUS (n = 4). Patients having a 3DUS examination consistently scored higher than those having a 2DUS examination alone for all categories of maternal-fetal bonding.


3DUS appears to more positively influence the perceptions of mothers to their babies postbirth compared to 2DUS. Specifically, mothers who had 3DUS showed their ultrasound images to a greater number of people compared to mothers who had 2DUS alone and this may represent mother's social support system. 3DUS may have a greater impact on the maternal-fetal bonding process. Copyright © 2005 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.