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Ultrasound ‘portraits’ a growing trend for moms-to-be

What started as a way for expectant mothers to have a day of pampering has turned into a little bit more for the staff at Sweet Dreams Ultrasound Studio.

Kelly Gates, one of the partners, said the studio at 200 Chatillon Road originally offered maternity photos and massages for moms-to-be but now takes the whole family.

“It just grew,” she said.

The small building is immediately welcoming, with relaxing colors and a front desk where Gates often sits. Staffers include photographer Beverly Dobbs — who proudly shows off the comfortable ultrasound room equipped with multiple chairs.

“We have had some really big families come for the ultrasound viewings,” said Dobbs. “We make sure we have plenty of room for them and we installed the big screen so we could show the ultrasound on that. We try to keep the decor very pretty and calming.”

One of Gates’ favorite sessions was with a military family, who wanted to share their joy with far-flung relatives — and the father.

“The father was stationed in Italy and we had him on Facetime and he got to see the baby in the ultrasound room with the rest of the family,” she said. “It is just a wonderful, bonding experience for so many generations like that.”

Ultrasound sessions are done by a licensed ultrasound technician, but are not diagnostic, only for elective purposes.

“We make sure all of our services here are done by professionals and are done well,” said Gates. “This is not just a pretty place, but top-notch as well.”

Customers receive a flash drive with their images, and they can also get printed copies of the ultrasound photos on high-quality paper so they can be preserved more easily as keepsakes.

Sweet Dreams staffers also make up envelopes for customers who want gender-reveal parties, which take place before the birth to announce the sex of the new baby.

A new addition to the studio is a fairyland forest set, with a mirror “lake.” Gates said “fairy session” parties are popular with mothers and their daughters.

“We dress the girls up and do makeup. We hand out goody bags and we take photos of the girls playing in the woodland forest. … It turns out some really beautiful shots,” she said.

The studio has been open almost a year and “we have several cool ideas up our sleeves,” said Gates. “We are very girly, all of us, so we love doing anything girly and fun.”

The group really does work well together, said Amy Gandy, the licensed, state-certified neuromuscular therapist in charge of the massage room.

“We hang out together all the time and we hate to leave,” she said. “In fact, our husbands will call us sometimes and ask if we are finished for the day yet.”