Pre-natal ultrasounds taken at a doctor’s office are a routine part of pregnancy, but they aren’t as fun as they could be, says business owner Melissa Jackson.
She seeks to remedy that by offering expectant parents a chance to get their baby’s first pictures in a family-friendly setting with a viewing room for guests, event space for “gender reveal” baby showers and even pre-natal massage.
Belly Image in Overland Park, which bills itself as a “mommy spa-maternity store,” is a business near Shawnee Mission Medical Center that offers elective ultrasounds plus a number of other services from a historic house.
“It’s a lot more homey,” than the doctor’s office where the 20-week diagnostic ultrasounds are done, Jackson said. “It’s inviting, warm and friendly. They’re here to have a nice time and relax.”
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Q: Describe what your business does.
“It’s like a glorified photography studio,” Jackson said.
Belly Image offers 2D, 3D and 4D images taken by certified sonographers, usually after the doctor’s office tests are done. The images are sold in a package that may become the family’s first official baby pictures.
There are a variety of packages with varying costs. In addition, the shop offers a recording of the fetal heartbeat that can be put inside a stuffed animal, consignment maternity clothes and pregnancy massage done by a therapist licensed in maternity massage.
Q: What’s the difference between 2D, 3D and 4D images?
The 2D images show the baby’s basic structure in black and white and are similar to the ones done in the doctor’s office. The 3D pictures are color and show more definition of facial and skin features, and the 4D come on a DVD showing 3D pictures in motion during the ultrasound session.
Q: What health information do the pictures give?
These are non-diagnostic ultrasounds, without the measurements normally given during the doctor’s office visit. They will show the baby’s gender, however. Jackson recommended the imaging be done at 27-32 weeks for best results.
Customers don’t need a doctor’s note for the session, but should be under a doctor’s care, she said.
Q: Are the pictures covered by insurance?
No, although the website advises customers that they may be able to pay from their flexible spending accounts.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
Jackson first encountered the enhanced ultrasound idea while studying to be an ultrasound technician in southern California 15 years ago, she said. After moving to this area, she became a part-time technician at a diagnostic center.
Seven years ago she began also working part time at the shop, which had evolved from a maternity clothing consignment shop to offer the imaging and massage.
Jackson became Belly Image’s owner late last year when former owner Jenea Schmidt offered her a chance to buy it, she said.
Q: What is special about your location?
The shop has been at its location across 75th Street to the south of Shawnee Mission Medical Center for the past five years and gets a lot of interest because of its proximity to the hospital, Jackson said.
The location is an improvement on the original space at a shopping area at 87th Street and Quivira Road, she said. But the visibility from the hospital isn’t the only reason.
The fact that it is in a bungalow-style former home makes it comforting and familiar for visitors, she said. The house, known as the Gleason House, was built in the 1920s and is a city historic landmark. Jackson said she believes it was once part of a dairy farm.
The house makes for a welcoming atmosphere for expectant mothers to hold baby showers, she said. It also has a viewing room with a big screen TV that will comfortably seat 10-12 guests for ultrasound viewing appointments.
Roxie Hammill: firstname.lastname@example.org
In a nutshell
Company: Belly Image
Address: 9205 W. 75th St., Overland Park