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In case you missed our last few blog posts, we’re currently running a special spring offer which allows First Encounters Ultrasound customers to get a selection of FREE scan souvenirs along with their chosen scan package!

This offer is available to anyone who books our Deluxe4D™, Deluxe4DPlus™ or 4DgenderAssure™ packages before the 10th of April (that’s this Sunday!) If you take advantage of this offer, you’ll get a selection of great scan gifts which would normally be worth £23.50 when purchased separately. This package includes both digital and physical copies of your chosen scan images, but for a closer look at what we’re offering, please click here.
 
This offer is valid to anyone who books a scan before Sunday, and it is available to customers in both our Cardiff and Bristol ultrasound clinics. This is a fantastic opportunity to save money on adding extra items to your scan package, so if you’re thinking about booking a scan with us, now is definitely the time to do it. Remember, this is your last chance to book this offer and take advantage of this one-of-a-kind deal, so take the plunge and book your scan before it’s too late! 
 
Remember, your scan can take place at any time of your choosing, as it’s only the booking itself that has to be made before the 10th of April. 
 
If you have any further questions about this deal or any of our packages, please feel free to get in touch!
Spring Sale

To celebrate the arrival of Spring, we've decided to put together a special offer for customers who book scans with us from now until the 10th of April. The offer is available when you book any of the following 4D ultrasound packages before that date:

Deluxe4D™

A Deluxe4D™ ultrasound scan can be booked from 24-32 weeks, providing you and up to six guests with the chance to watch your unborn baby's movements live on a plasma screen; a special moment that will be captured on DVD. The sonographer will also perform growth measurements, and will determine other vital information about your baby's well-being.

Deluxe4DPlus

Like the regular Deluxe4D™ package, Deluxe4DPlus™ provides you with a unique glimpse into your baby's world while also confirming vital details about their progress, such as their growth and positioning. After your scan, you will receive a selection of commemorative items, including DVD footage of your little one.With the Deluxe4DPlus™ pacakge, you will also have the opportunity to discover your baby's gender, since a 2D sexing scan is included in the price.

4DgenderAssure™

Unlike the Deluxe4D™ packages, our 4DgenderAssure™ option provides you with the opportunity to learn the sex of your baby from as early as 20 weeks gestation. You will be able to discover the gender of your baby in live 2D footage, before getting a closer look at your baby via 3D/4D imagery, which will be projected onto our plasma screen. To commemorate your special day, the package also includes 4 glossy photographs and a keyring with an image of your little one.

If you book any of these before Sunday the 10th of April, you will also receive the following additional items for FREE:
  • CD containing photos from your scan
  • Four colour prints (6" x 4")
  • 1 x photo magnet
These items are worth £23.50 in total.

This offer is valid to any customer who books their scan before the 10th of April. The scan itself can take place on any date you choose, as long as the booking is made before the specified date.

You can view our full range of scan packages here.
When you book an ultrasound scan with First Encounters, you can be sure that you will receive a truly comprehensive service from our team of experienced sonographers, who will give you a unique and memorable experience to treasure for a lifetime. We realise that your scan will be a rather emotional process with lots of new information to take in, and so we provide each of our customers with a personalised pregnancy report once the scan is complete. This report can be taken home and kept forever as a souvenir of your scan.
 
There are three different First Encounters pregnancy reports, each one containing slightly different information. Which one you receive will depend on the scan package you select. Here's what they look like:
 
First Encounters Pregnancy Reports
 
Aside from making lovely keepsakes, the purpose of these pregnancy reports is to document as much information about your baby as possible, giving you a written record of your unborn child's status at the time of your scan. This will give you something to reflect on following the scan, allowing you to better retain vital details about your pregnancy that you may have missed during your visit or simply forgotten about afterwards.
 
The pregnancy report also provides an invaluable indication of your baby's health, allowing you to identify any potential complications or abnormalities.
 
Here's a quick summary of what is included in each pregnancy report:
 

earlyAssure™ Report

Included with the following scan packages:
This pregnancy report includes the following information:
  • Essential details (heartbeat confirmation, indications of movement, number of foetuses)
  • Amniotic fluid levels
  • Gestation age 
  • Estimated date of delivery (EDD, also known as your 'due date')
  • Crown-rump length
 

Wellbeing Observation™ Report

Included with the following scan packages:
This pregnancy report includes the following information:
  • Essential details
  • Position of baby (indicated via diagram)
  • Amniotic fluid levels
  • Placenta position
  • Gestation age
  • Due date
  • Baby's gender (male or female)
 

growthAssure™ Report

Included with the following scan packages:
This pregnancy report includes the following information:
  • Essential details
  • Position of baby (indicated via diagram)
  • Amniotic fluid levels
  • Placenta position
  • Gestation age
  • Due date
  • Growth details (including head and abdominal circumference, femur length)
  • Baby's gender (if requested)
In the unlikely event that we need to provide you with a referral, these details will also be noted at the bottom of your report.
 
If you would like more information about our range of scan packages, you can view them in greater detail here. If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us and let us know how we can help. We are hope you find your pregnancy report helpful, don't hesitate to get in touch if we can be of any assistance following your scan.
Attending a 4D ultrasound scan and seeing your baby's face for the first time is a breathtaking experience, and it's one that you'll no doubt be eager to share with your nearest and dearest. Our customers are already able to keep the footage from their scans in the form of DVD recordings, but from April onwards, you'll have the option to take home your scan video on a USB stick instead!

Ultrasound USB Stick

How it works

When you book one of our DVD-inclusive scan packages (listed at the end of this post), you'll be given the option to upgrade to a USB stick for an additional £10 fee. This option will be available from the 1st of April 2016 onwards. 

At the end of your scan, instead of receiving a souvenir DVD, you will be given a branded First Encounters USB stick (as pictured above) containing your scan footage in the form of an MP4 video file.

Please note that, if you choose to upgrade to a USB stick, you will NOT get a DVD as well. You will receive your USB stick instead of a DVD recording, not in addition to it.

Why choose a USB stick over a DVD recording?

We have decided to start offering our customers USB sticks as an alternative to DVDs for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are noticing that fewer and fewer people actually own DVD players, and we feel that the USB option will allow a larger number of people to rewatch their scan footage at home.

Other benefits include:
  • Easier sharing. Once you have taken your USB stick home, you will be able to share the video file with friends and relatives all over the world, either via email or on social media websites (e.g. Facebook).

  • TV compatibility. No DVD player? No problem! Most televisions now come with USB ports - simply plug the First Encounters USB stick into your telly and gather everyone in the living room for a very special screening!

  • Durability. DVDs get damaged quite easily - our USB sticks (and the video files they contain) are far less likely to be rendered unwatchable by an accidental scratch or scuff!

USB sticks will be available with the following ultrasound scan packages from the 1st of April:
We've heard a lot about the Zika virus over the past few weeks, due to a recent outbreak in Brazil which has since prompted serious questions about the impact of the infection. While it's been rather common in certain African and Asian countries for many years, it's only since the infection has spread to Brazil that the western world has began to show concern regarding its impact. 

While for the most part the infection is largely symptom-free, presenting no lasting harm to those who become infected, the outbreak in Brazil has led to concerns that Zika could be linked to microcephaly in infants, causing them to be born with unusually small heads. 

If you are currently pregnant, or planning to become pregnant in the near future, here are a few things you should know about the Zika virus and its impact on unborn children:

Does Zika cause brain damage?

While the evidence linking microcephaly to Zika is largely circumstantial, there was a clear surge in the amount of babies being born with the disease during the outbreak, which would suggest that Zika is, in fact, the cause. As for the issue of microcephaly itself, in around fifteen percent of cases it accounts for the physical impact (i.e. reduced head size) only, while in the remainder of cases it can prevent proper brain development. 

Which countries present the highest risk?

Countries in South America are naturally at risk due to their proximity to Brazil, as are those in which the virus was already prevalent, such as Kenya, Egypt, India and more. The most up-to-date information on which countries pose a risk can be found here.

What should I do if I've visited a high-risk country?

Aside from rare exceptions, the virus does not linger in the body, and once you have recovered from the infection you will become immune. This means that this risks for women who have previously visited the country before getting pregnant are very low. Despite this, if you have visited the at-risk countries whilst pregnant (or during the early stages of conception), you should most certainly seek medical advice and get your blood tested. You should also get an ultrasound scan to check that your baby is developing properly, although evidence can not be detected until the end of the second trimester.

Should I worry about Zika if I'm trying to conceive?

As mentioned above, Zika is particularly dangerous in the early stages of pregnancy, which means that those looking to conceive should avoid visiting the countries which are most at risk. Those who are not trying to get pregnant are also being warned to be diligent with their birth control routine, in order to avoid an unplanned pregnancy with a high risk of complications. There has also been some evidence to suggest that it is possible to transmit the virus via sexual intercourse, which means that those with partners who have also recently returned from one of the affected areas should also exercise caution.

How can I avoid infection?

Travellers to high-risk countries should attempt to avoid infection by avoiding or minimising their contact with mosquitoes, taking precautions such as wearing long clothing and sleeping under mosquito nets. Sadly, there is no way to completely avoid infection if you are in these countries during pregnancy or at the time of conception, which is why pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women are encouraged to avoid high-risk locations altogether.

For more pregnancy news and advice, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

There is very little in life that compares to the very special feeling and excitement that comes with being pregnant. Undergoing an ultrasound scan, keeping track of your baby’s development, and watching them grow can provide very special bonding moments for a couple that’s expecting.  

In addition to providing these special moments for new families, scans can also pick up potential health issues and warning signs that can be caught by attending private scans in addition to the usual 8-14 week NHS Scan. Your baby’s health is our main priority here at First Encounters, so all of our sonographers are fully trained to identify any potential health issues during your scan.  

During every scan, we perform some essential checks to ensure that your baby is growing and developing at a healthy rate. Firstly, we measure your baby’s growth in the womb and compare this to the average for how far along you are. If your baby is significantly smaller or larger than average, this can indicate a problem; if your baby appears small, then this could mean that your baby is not growing properly. This can be because your baby is not getting the oxygen it needs to thrive. There are many reasons as to why this can be, such as abnormalities in the placenta, medical conditions, or the fact that you are carrying twins.  If one of our sonographers identifies this to be an issue, we will inform you immediately and refer you to a hospital if we feel that this is necessary. 

Secondly, we will measure your amniotic fluid levels. When you are pregnant, your growing baby is protected inside an amniotic sac within your womb. This sac is filled with fluid to protect your baby from harm if your tummy is bumped or squashed while you are pregnant. The amount of amniotic fluid increases throughout your pregnancy; however, if your baby is smaller than expected for the date, it could be because you have low fluid levels. 

Our sonographer will check your fluid levels, and if we find any abnormalities, we will refer you to a hospital to get a professional medical opinion. 

As well as determining the due date and the gender of your baby, private pregnancy scans are designed to reassure you that you and your baby are developing well, and that there are no issues throughout your pregnancy.  A private scan should NEVER be used as a substitute for a standard hospital scan, but undergoing a private scan in addition to your NHS scans can alert sonographers to potential health issues that were not present (or visible) at first. 

Click here to book your pregnancy scan with First Encounters. For more news and advice about your pregnancy, follow First Encounters on Twitter