New technology allows ultrasound pictures to be copied, duplicated, shared, and preserved as timeless memories, yet many parents still end up destroying these valuable memories by using the wrong processes. Things like knowing what type of paper you have (ask your doctor), avoiding handling the original with your bare hands, cold laminating the original for easier handling, and proper storage can help preserve the original picture while being able to create duplicates.
Ultrasound pictures are the first pictures of your little one growing in your womb and have great sentimental value that highlight milestone moments of your pregnancy. But preserving these pictures has always been a difficult undertaking.
Mothers are mostly very protective over their ultrasound pictures, even if many of them are difficult to read. Keeping and sharing these baby-in-the-womb pregnancy pictures has always been a challenge.
There are so many conflicting ideas on how to best copy and preserve these sentimental pictures, and after an Internet search, most of us are left none the wiser.
Some say don’t photocopy or laminate, while others say they had no problem photocopying or laminating their ultrasound pictures.
Let’s try and get some clarity on the matter.
An overview of ultrasound pictures
Most ultrasound pictures are printed on thermal paper.
Heat is used to print the picture on paper which is why the general quality of ultrasound pictures is not very clear. Using thermal paper is a common method retailers use to print till slips.
Thermal paper reacts to heat and normal hot laminating will make the whole ultrasound image turn black. On the other hand, a cold press laminating process is said to be safe.
Cold laminating original ultrasound pictures is an excellent way to preserve the original from the oil released through our skin which also contributes to accelerated deterioration.
However, laminating pictures printed on thermal does not protect them from heat. Even if a laminated picture is framed and framed behind glass, heat will still affect the picture.
What most people overlook is that light is energy and generates heat.
Most light sources radiate heat, so exposure to heat should also include exposure to light which all told, gives your conventional ultrasound picture a limited lifespan that depends significantly on how you care for them.
New technology makes it possible to receive digital copies of the ultrasound images as well as a video that includes the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.
You can share your digital images and video online or you can print the images on photographic paper which if cared for have a much longer lifespan.
Tips to preserve ultrasound images printed on thermal paper
Here are a few tips that you may want to consider to help preserve your original ultrasound thermal paper pictures:
- When you have an ultrasound, find out from your doctor what paper the images will be printed on. If it’s thermal paper, you will know how best to care for them by the end of this article.
- Avoid handling the original with your bare hands. I know it is very tempting to stroke your baby’s cheek or draw the image of your little one with your finger as you discuss the pictures with family and friends.
- Keep the images in an envelope and try to only view them indoors. Handle the images on the edges only and use white gloves if possible. This prevents the transfer of oils from your fingers onto the paper. I’m sure you’ve seen movies or documentaries of historians and geologists wearing gloves to avoid unnecessary specimen contamination.
- Cold laminate the original for easier handling. Alternatively, you can purchase a few self-laminating sheets that don’t require heat or light to laminate the picture.
- Store the laminated original in a cool, dry, and dark place, preferably in a box, to ensure that there is no pressure placed directly on the images.
- Photo albums are fine, but the pressure placed on the picture will cause it to stick to the page, and humidity may damage the image over time.
Ultrasound pictures are items with sentimental value; like all keepsake goodies, you will want to share these memories from time to time.
To do this, you cannot rely on your efforts to preserve the original thermal pictures, and you may want to try the following:
- Do not attempt photocopying the originals. You will destroy them with the combination of heat and light energy from the photocopy process.
- Scanning the pictures to get a high-quality digital image is said to be safe and sets you up to have some creative fun with your images.
- You can also photograph the images without using the flash on your cell phone. If your phone camera produces high-resolution pictures then this will be the easiest, quickest, and safest way to make digital images of your ultrasound pictures.
- You can now print your images on photographic paper or even inkjet print on canvass if you like.
- Digital images give you a lot of printing freedom that is not limited to photographs. You can print on T-shirts, make resin-coated badges, print on coffee mugs, and even use the images in your own printed baby book, complete with all the beautiful words you used at the time.
Converting your thermal Ultrasound picture into digital images is fine but remember to store backup images in the cloud or on a separate clearly marked hard drive or memory stick.
How to improve the quality of your ultrasound pictures
Mothers-to-be will be asked to double up on their water intake for a full week leading up to an ultrasound examination.
3D or 4D ultrasound waves need to travel through fluid to create an image. The more fluid there is in front of your baby’s face, the better the image will be.
If your baby is up against the placenta or the side of the uterus where there is little fluid for the waves to pass through, the image may appear cloudy. It takes an average of 2-4 days for fluid to reach the uterus from your water intake.
Increasing your water intake a week prior to the ultrasound ensures that you are fully hydrated and enough time is given for the fluid to reach the placenta.
Naturally, the position of your baby will ultimately determine the quality of the images but the more fluid, the better the image.
Drink a glass of ice-cold water shortly before your scan, as this will get your little one to start moving. This is not necessary but it will help if your baby is resting in a tough spot for good “photography.”
Some moms chew on ice the night before and in the time leading up to their scan appointment. The cold temperature is what does the trick.
How long will ultrasound pictures last before they fade or go black?
If you follow the tips on preserving your ultrasound pictures in this article, they will last a long time.
One mommy dug hers out after 18 years and they were still fine but it depends on the quality of thermal paper used.
Some poor-quality thermal paper will leave a black line if you press your fingernail on the paper and draw a line. The best is to preserve the original in cold laminate and make digital images.
Why do photocopied ultrasound pictures turn black?
Thermal paper is used to print the pictures instead of ink or chemicals as with proper photographs.
The thermal paper remains active to heat and heat-generating light which will turn the entire piece of paper black with a heavy dose as the photocopy process uses.
Preserving your ultrasound pictures as a lifelong keepsake is something you can always reflect on.
Taking a walk down memory lane to remember your growing child when they were a sparkle in dad’s eye, and a bump in your belly is priceless when you have photographs to relate to.
Technology is making the preservation of thermal paper pictures a lot easier and offers many creative ways to print or display these first memories in time.
Creating digital images of your ultrasound scans will allow you to preserve them indefinitely.