When looking into booking a private ultrasound scan, there are a few things you should consider in order to ensure that you are not only getting the best value but equally the most comprehensive scan for your money, without compromising any aspects of the service. Listed below are a few things you should keep in mind before booking an ultrasound scan.

Here are the key points to consider when choosing your scan provider:

Is the company regulated, and will your scan be carried out by qualified healthcare professionals with experience of obstetric ultrasound and 4D?

It's easy to spot a regulated provider by checking the company's name against the CQC or HIW register. Reputable, regulated companies will often display widgets linking to the relevant regulatory body on their website, thereby confirming their current 'approved' status. Regulated providers are required to operate to the highest standards, ensuring a safe experience that's conducted by qualified healthcare professionals who are experienced in the provision of obstetric care.

However, not all qualified sonographers are practised in the art of 4D, and the lack of practical experience required to produce a quality 4D scan can often result in disappointment when the standard of service advertised is not what you receive. We are proud to say that First Encounters can provide evidence of conforming to a number of regulatory standards, the details of which can be found here, All of our sonographers are carefully-selected individuals who are registered with the Health Professions Council, which means that they reach the required standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health. They are highly experienced and practised in the provision of 4D ultrasound, and are fully committed to producing the best result possible in each unique case.

Is the latest equipment being used, and is it safe?

Many ultrasound machines used in small private studios are purchased second-hand and not supplied direct from the manufacturers with the relevant safety certification. If installed incorrectly, such machines have the potential to cause electric shocks, which may be emitted through the probe to your tummy!

It is imperative that isolation transformers are correctly installed to minimise this risk; however, while you may assume that such a safety issue would be routinely assessed as part of the regulatory assessment, such detailed checks are surprisingly not made during inspections. Therefore, this serious safety risk can often remain undetected until it’s too late.

Here at First Encounters, we use the very latest, state-of-the art equipment, which is professionally installed and regularly serviced by the manufacturer. Not only do we provide excellent quality imagery, we also ensure that safety risks to you and your baby are eliminated.

Are scans available from different providers equal and comparable in price?

Each provider will offer a selection of scans relevant to the service required; however, it is important to read between the lines.  For example, whilst the emphasis of your chosen scan may be to establish gender depiction or indeed to achieve beautiful 4D souvenir imagery, it is also vitally important that the health and wellbeing of your baby is not dismissed.

Some providers will NOT include reassurance at all, whilst others will offer a verbal wellbeing report. Here at First Encounters, we provide a written pregnancy report with every scan performed, with an obligation to ensuring that your pregnancy is progressing in line with the advised gestation age. Such evaluation ensures that, should a situation arise, the relevant action can be taken without delay.

Are the facilities satisfactory?

If possible, take a look at the clinic you'll be attending before booking your scan. You want your ultrasound experience to be as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible, especially if you're planning to share it with friends and family, so it's a good idea to research the provider's facilities ahead of time. Click here for details on First Encounters' three clinics.

Are there any reviews online?

Look for testimonials from previous clients, and make sure that the information is relevant and trustworthy. Many franchise operations provide very differing experiences, and reviews are often misleading to the people who read them.

First Encounters is managed by a core family team, who are committed to strong customer service values and ensuring that the service offered at each of our locations meets the same high standards.

Our review page includes testimonials from customers based in a variety of locations, so you can be assured that each of our facilities is highly recommended by those who have visited previously.

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A private 4D scan can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which offers you and your loved ones a breathtaking first glance at your baby, forming a bond that is quite simply invaluable. While some inferior clinics may be able to save you money, the difference in quality could make a huge difference to the experience you get, resulting in long-term disappointment if the service does not live up to your expectations.

We at First Encounters cannot be beaten on the quality of the service we provide. Our prices fully reflect the excellence of service we offer to each and every one of our customers; to gain a thorough understanding of what we have to offer, please visit our About Us page or view the variety of scan packages we have on offer at our clinics.
We get asked all sorts of questions here at First Encounters. When is the best time to have a scan? Are 4D ultrasound scans safe? Should I find out the sex of my baby? These are all common queries; however, the most common question of all has nothing to do with how our scans work. Rather, it's related to the cost of our 4D ultrasound packages.
 
Many people think that 3D/4D scans will be too expensive for them, but most are pleasantly surprised when they see our price list. Obviously, the exact cost depends on which package you select, but whether you want a no-frills 4D scan or the full baby bonding experience, we think you'll find our prices very reasonable indeed.

So how much does a First Encounters 4D ultrasound scan actually cost?

Anything from £89 to £169. Here's a quick list of the 4D packages we offer, with prices shown in brackets:
  • Classic4D™ (£89) - Includes full growthAssure™ report, plus 4 glossy colour photographs and a photo key ring. Gender confirmation optional.

  • Deluxe4D™ (£99) - Includes full growthAssure™ report, plus 5min video recording, 4 glossy colour photographs, and photo key ring. Gender confirmation optional.

  • Superior4D™ (£129) - Includes full growthAssure™ report, 8 glossy colour photographs, 10min MP4 video, 2 photographic key rings, and gender confirmation (if requested). You'll also receive all of your scan photos on a USB stick, making them easy to share with friends and relatives.

  • Ultimate4D™ (£159) - Our top 4D ultrasound package offers everything an expectant parent could ask for, including 12 glossy colour photographs, a 10min MP4 scan video, all scan photos on a USB stick, a heartbeat bear, 2 key rings, a photo magnet, and gender confirmation if requested.
Full Range of Packages >                                                Contact Us To Book Your 4D Ultrasound Scan >
 
If you've had a look at our Images & Videos section, you may be wondering if the examples on that page really are representative of the quality and the clarity you'll see on the screen when you come in for a 4D scan of your own. Will we be able to depict your unborn baby with that same level of detail?

3D Baby Scan

The short answer is yes, for the vast majority of scans we perform. However, 4D ultrasound scans are not an exact science, and with each and every pregnancy being so very different, the achievable results can vary for each client, thus making it very difficult to provide an airtight guarantee when it comes to the quality of the imagery we aim to capture during our 3D/4D scans. That said, we will always endeavour to obtain the very best result achievable, working with you to encourage your baby into the best possible position; however, whilst a change of position can, in most cases, be achieved with the aid of sugar stimulation, there are other factors that may affect image quality and resolution.

All ultrasound scans obtain images via the reflection of sound waves, which penetrate from the probe placed on your belly through to your baby and back again. The image then displayed is the result of this reflection. Whilst we at First Encounters Ultrasound use the latest, most advanced ultrasound technology (effectively enabling an element of image manipulation), image quality and resolution can unfortunately be impaired if the sound waves have more distance to travel, thus creating a weaker reflection and a lower-resolution image.

In some cases, a high BMI can lead to a less than perfect result; however, our own experience has also identified that, in cases of a high BMI, clearer images can be achieved when the scan is performed slightly later (between 29 and 30 weeks gestation). This is because the baby sometimes moves closer to the stomach wall, thus creating a shorter distance for the reflected sound waves to cover, resulting in a better image resolution.

The key points to remember when planning your 4D experience are as follows:
  • Your baby will require room for movement.
  • Your baby will need to be surrounded by plenty of fluid to assist the projection of imagery
In order to achieve the best possible results, we always recommend between 25 and 29 weeks as the optimum time for a 3D/4D scan. However, in the event that your baby is uncooperative on the day, a complimentary rescan will be offered on an alternative day (where appropriate, and subject to terms and conditions).

All of this being said, we'd like to say once again that unsatisfactory scans are very few and far between. The vast majority of women who come to us leave absolutely thrilled with the results of their 4D scan - if you'd like to book a scan of your own, please click here to compare the packages we offer. Alternatively, if you have any other questions to ask, feel free to give us a call on 02920 732671.
Given that pregnant women in the UK receive two (and, in some cases, more than two) free ultrasound scans on the NHS, some people may be a little unsure as to what private scan providers like First Encounters bring to the table. How do private baby scans differ from their government-funded counterparts? Is a hospital scan still necessary if you're planning to undergo a private scan anyway?
 
Well, first of all, we'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: our scans are not intended to replace the dating and anomaly scans offered by the NHS.  Under no circumstances do we recommend getting a private scan instead of a standard hospital scan; instead, services like ours are intended to complement the crucial NHS scans, allowing you to monitor the vital signs across a longer period and enhancing the pregnancy experience for you and those closest to you.
 

Monitoring your pregnancy

Here are some examples of the data that our sonographers will record when you come in for your private scan:
  • Growth measurements
  • Weight measurements
  • Baby position
  • Placenta position
  • Fluid levels (low fluid levels can be dangerous and may lead to early delivery)
Your NHS scans will furnish you with a lot of information and spot any problems that present themselves at the time, but augmenting your basic scans with an additional private scan allows you to monitor your baby's growth across a broader period. This means that we can not only give you continued peace of mind, but also catch any problems that develop after your hospital scans.

Enhancing your experience

While pregnancy can be a very stressful experience for the people who go through it, it is also a time of great joy and excitement, both for the expectant parent(s) and for their nearest and dearest. This is the side of pregnancy that we at First Encounters aim to enhance - here are some of the ways in which we do it.
  • Comfortable, modern clinics with state-of-the-art equipment
  • Space for up to 6 guests
  • 4D scan packages that let you glimpse your baby's world in greater detail
  • A range of gender scan options (note that some NHS hospitals do not offer gender confirmation)
  • A wide variety of souvenirs to choose from
These are the things that set our scans apart from standard hospital scans (and, indeed, from those available in other private clinics). While the NHS dating and anomaly scans are still a crucial part of ensuring that your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible, undergoing a private baby scan is a different - and hopefully far more enjoyable - experience altogether.