4D scan
 
Expectant parents often ask us how long they should wait before coming in for a 4D ultrasound scan. Obviously, if the scan is carried out too early, the foetus will not have developed far enough to give a satisfactory image, but waiting until the final weeks of your pregnancy isn't a very good idea either.
 
Many people believe that they must wait until at least 30 weeks to book an ultrasound session, but this - if you'll pardon the pun - is a misconception. Here at First Encounters Ultrasound, we offer 4D scans from 24 weeks to 32 weeks; however, we recommend 25-29 weeks as the optimum time for a scan, as this allows us to accommodate babies who are developing at a slower or faster rate than average. It's good to err on the side of caution - after all, it would be a shame if you visited our clinic at the start of your 24th week, only to find that your baby isn't quite ready for the camera yet!
 
So, to answer your question: the best time to have a 4D scan is around 27 weeks. However, this does not mean that a satisfactory image cannot be captured later on; every pregnancy is different, of course, but we are almost always able to achieve great results up to 32 weeks.
 

Why can't I have a 4D scan after 32 weeks?

 
As mentioned above, the cut-off point for our 4D scan packages is 32 weeks. You may be wondering why this is the case - surely the image would be even 'better' if we waited until the baby was completely developed?
 
The reason is quite simple: there's only a limited amount of space in your womb, and our sonographers are able to achieve better results when there's still some room left.
 
Allow us to explain. The main aim of a 4D scan is to capture an image of your baby's face, and we can only do that if he or she is facing the camera (probe) when the scan takes place. If, when you arrive at our clinic, your baby is facing your back, he/she will need room to turn around - otherwise, we're stuck looking at the back of baby's head!
 
As your child grows, they leave less and less room for moving around, which means that the chances of turning become quite slim after the 32-week point. Furthermore, fluid levels reduce as the pregnancy develops, which will further impede the projection of imagery and also your baby's movement within the womb.
 

Is there any way to encourage movement?

Want to keep your baby moving on the day of your scan? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Sugar stimulation is a good way to promote movement in utero. Eating a bar of chocolate and/or having a fizzy drink about 20 minutes before your scan will give your baby a burst of hyperactivity!

  • We recommend having a full bladder when you come in for your 4D scan; if your baby's head is pointed downwards, he or she may decide to play hide-and-seek by burying it in your pelvic area. An inflated bladder helps to prevent this from happening, lifting your baby into a better position for the camera.

  • If you come in for your scan and your baby is feeling camera-shy, we will recommend that you take a brief walk to get things moving in there.
If all else fails and we are unable to get a good picture of your unborn child, we will be more than happy to offer you a complementary re-scan visit on another date.
 
Click below to browse our scan packages and book your 4D ultrasound session online!
 
 
Even if you've read all about 4D ultrasound and how it can be used to give you a closer look at your unborn child, it can be difficult to really grasp how amazing this technology is until you've seen it in action.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait until your scan to get a first-hand glimpse of the 4D footage we are capable of capturing. Just take a look at this video, recording during one of our 4D ultrasound sessions:

4D footage is shown on the right.

As you can see, our 4D ultrasound equipment allows you to look at your child in unprecedented detail. In fact, the images we capture are of such a high quality that you'll be able to tell which parent the baby most resembles while he or she is still in utero!

There are few moments more magical than seeing your baby smile for the first time, and here at First Encounters, we can allow you to experience this before your child has even been born. Click here to compare our 4D scan packages or, if you'd like to see more 4D ultrasound videos, visit our Images & Videos page.
Some people, upon learning that they are pregnant, want to go for a scan ASAP. If you are interested in an early pregnancy scan, we recommend our earlyAssure™ package, which is available from 8 weeks onwards. Most of the mothers who come in for an earlyAssure™ scan have yet to attend their first NHS appointment, which means that we really are giving them their very first glimpse at the child that's growing inside them.
 

Why should I get an early pregnancy scan?

The earlyAssure™ scan is primarily intended as a viability and reassurance scan. It will:
  • Confirm whether your pregnancy is viable
  • Exclude the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy
  • Find out how many babies you're carrying and when you're due
We will also monitor your baby's heartbeat and take a crown to rump measurement. Many of the women who request an early pregnancy scan have experienced vaginal bleeding and wish to ensure that their baby is healthy and that the pregnancy is viable.
 

Why can't my scan take place until I reach 8 weeks?

The use of abdominal ultrasound prior to 8 weeks gestation can often result in failure to detect a heartbeat or even achieve a good visual representation of the foetus. This prevents us from giving an accurate assessment of your pregnancy and the health of your unborn child. For this reason, we recommend 8 weeks as the minimum gestation period for an early pregnancy scan.
 
 
This package includes an earlyAssure™ report, 2 black and white photographs of your scan, and a £10 Loyalty Discount card to use against your next scan.
 
Ultrasound clinic

An expectant mother in the UK usually receives at least two ultrasound scans over the course of her pregnancy. The first is a 'dating' scan that gives her an approximate idea of when her baby will be born; the second is used to check for anomalies in the unborn child.

Given that these hospital scans are offered at no charge, you may wonder why so many people also choose to pay for private scans with companies like us. What, exactly, do we offer that the free scans don't?

We're glad you asked! Here are 5 reasons to book a private ultrasound scan with First Encounters:

1) 3D/4D technology. Your hospital scans will be carried out using standard 2D ultrasound equipment, which is perfectly adequate for checking on the health of your baby but not ideal if you want to take a closer look at what he or she looks like! Our clinics are equipped with the latest 3D/4D ultrasound equipment, giving you the opportunity to glimpse into your baby's world and see ahead of time which parent the unborn child most resembles.

2) Gender confirmation. Depending on the hospital you visit, you may not have the option of finding out your baby's sex during your standard scans (some hospitals refuse to discuss the gender of unborn babies as a matter of policy). However, we at First Encounters are more than happy to help you find out whether baby is a girl or a boy, and  - as an added bonus - you'll be able to keep your friends and relatives guessing with the help of our cute Gender Reveal Cards.
Gender reveal card
3) Photos and DVDs. Many hospitals do not provide take-home pictures of the babies they scan, and those that do will often charge extra for this service. All First Encounters scan packages include at least 2 photographs as part of the price, and several also include DVD recordings of your scan footage.

4) Comfortable, spacious clinics. Let's face it: hospitals aren't always the nicest places to be, and if you're planning to bring guests along to your ultrasound scan, you may prefer to bring them to a spacious, relaxed environment that will allow them to feel comfortable while they wait to meet your baby. We have clinics in Bristol and Cardiff, and both are designed to give everyone present the best possible experience on the day of your scan.

5) Souvenirs! Finally, we offer a range of fantastic souvenirs that no hospital will ever provide. You can get your unborn baby's picture on a key ring or fridge magnet; you can get a printed report that serves as a permanent record of your scan and its findings; you can even get your baby's heartbeat recorded onto one of our adorable Heartbeat Bears!


Convinced? Click here to book your First Encounters Ultrasound scan, or call 02920 732671 to speak with our customer service team!
What sex is my baby?

Once your pregnancy has reached the second trimester, you may want to find out whether your unborn child is a boy or a girl. There was a time when expectant parents simply had to wait until the big day to discover the gender of their new arrival, but modern technology makes it possible to learn the sex of a baby months before he or she is delivered.

If you want to know whether to expect a little girl or a baby boy, First Encounters Ultrasound offer the following gender scan packages:
2D sexing scan, 18-26 weeks, includes 2 black and white photographs

2D sexing/reassurance/growth/wellbeing scan, 16-32 weeks, includes 4 black and white photographs

as above, with additional DVD recording and Heartbeat Bear

4DgenderAssure

2D sexing/reassurance/growth scan and 4D bonding scan, 20-32 weeks, includes 4 colour photographs

Gender confirmation is also offered alongside many of our other ultrasound packages - simply advise your sonographer if you wish to learn the sex of your baby, and they will be happy to tell you.

Gender Confirmation - Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why should I find out the sex of my baby?
A: Not everyone wants to know their baby's gender ahead of time, and you may prefer to keep it as a surprise, but many expectant parents request gender confirmation to help them decide on a name, decorate the nursery, pick out clothing, and so forth. Others simply find that knowing the gender helps them to feel closer to their baby - it's easier to picture your future child when you know whether they're going to be male or female!

Q: Do ultrasound scans ever get the gender wrong?
A: No sexing scan is 100% infallible, and the opinion of your sonographer should not be taken as an airtight guarantee that your child will turn out to be the gender specified. However, we will point out that - should you visit our clinic to find out the sex of your baby - your scan will be carried out by a fully-qualified obstetric ultrasound specialist with extensive knowledge and experience. They will give you their professional opinion regarding your baby's gender, and this will almost always turn out to be correct.

Q: How soon can I find out my baby's sex?
A: Your baby's sexual organs won't be visible on an ultrasound until roughly the 14-week mark, and even then it can be difficult to accurately judge his or her gender. We recommend waiting until you are 16 weeks pregnant to undergo a gender confirmation scan.

Q: Can I have a 4D bonding scan without finding out my baby's gender?
A: Of course! We appreciate that some people don't want to know the sex ahead of time, and so our sonographers will not reveal anything unless you specifically ask them to do so. Feel free to give us a call on 02920 732671 to tell us exactly what you want from your scan - we'll be more than happy to recommend a package that suits your needs.