The process from Embryo 3D uses ultrasound scans to create a plastic model of the foetus (Image: RUPTLY)
Expectant parents can now get their own 3D printed model of their unborn child - and there are even gold-plated versions available.
The process from Embryo 3D uses ultrasound scans to create a plastic model of the foetus.
Incredible footage shows a 3D printer at work creating the little human, including the most minute details like its tiny hands and feet, its umbilical cord and a detailed version of its face.
Head of Embryo 3D Ivan Gridin said the company is also now able to make metal-plated versions - so parents could get themselves a little gold-plated or silver-plated foetus.
Expectant mum Yuliana Recu, who took part in the process in the Russian city of Ufa on Wednesday, said: "It is weird feeling, the child hasn’t been born yet, but you can touch it and feel it like it's here."
An embryo being printed (Image: RUPTLY)
The idea came about when Mr Gridin's friend was worried about the health of her unborn child.
He explained: "I was fond of new technologies at that time and 3D-printing. And I said, 'let’s print it.'"
He added: "Earlier we printed only from plastic, but now we are able to make plaster models and cover them with precious metals."
The models are the next step on from 3D imaging - which has been used to spot birth defects and to allow parents to see the development of their baby from outside the womb, according to research at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Researchers in Brazil used the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to transform MRI and ultrasound data into a life-like model of a foetus.
So instead of getting a blurry polaroid-type image of something that could be a baby, proud parents could have a sharp realistic image instead.
Scientists use slices of MRI scans to build up a 3D reconstruction of the scans.
Once an accurate model is created the virtual reality device can be programmed to incorporate the model.
Study co-author Heron Werner Jr from the Clinica de Diagnostico por Imagem , in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said at the time: "The 3D foetal models combined with virtual reality immersive technologies may improve our understanding of foetal anatomical characteristics and can be used for educational purposes and as a method for parents to visualize their unborn baby."
The virtual reality models are incredibly lifelike, and recreate the entire internal structure of the foetus, including a detailed view of the respiratory tract, which can aid doctors in assessing abnormalities.
Oculus Rift 2 technology can then place the user in an immersive environment, complete with heartbeat sounds derived from the ultrasound of the fetus. Users can study the 3D foetal anatomy simply by moving their head.
Dr Werner added: "The experience with the Oculus Rift has been wonderful.
"It provides fetal images that are sharper and clearer than ultrasound and MR images viewed on a traditional display."
The technology has helped doctors assess foetal airways, an important issue for a developing foetus.
For example, if ultrasound showed an abnormal mass near the fetal airway, physicians could use the 3D images and the headset to assess the entire length of the airway and make better informed decisions about delivery.