If you're pregnant and you've recently booked a reassurance scan, you may well be wondering what to expect on the day. Conversely, perhaps you're still trying to decide what kind of ultrasound package is right for you, in which case you may wish to learn more about the reassurance scan and what this option has to offer. Either way, the First Encounters team are here to help!

One important thing to bear in mind is that a reassurance scan is not a substitute for the standard 20 week anomaly scan that's offered by the NHS. Instead, your reassurance scan will complement the results of the NHS appointment, giving you more information and further reassurance that your baby is developing normally without aiming to reach the same level of diagnostic detail.

The main aim of a reassurance scan is to check on the progression of your pregnancy and identify the general health, growth, and wellbeing of your unborn baby. It can be carried out at any point during your pregnancy starting from 14 weeks gestation.

Your reassurance scan will reveal the following information:

  • Growth measurements (including head circumference, abdominal circumference, and femur length). This information allows us to plot your baby's growth onto our average growth chart, which will tell us if your baby is developing faster or slower than average. Our ultrasound machine can also use these measurements to calculate foetal weight.

  • Fluid levels will be observed - these are crucial to the wellbeing of your baby and to the safe progression of your pregnancy, so if we notice that your levels are markedly above or below the set protocol, we will use the four-quadrant technique to collect additional data that will help your NHS doctor to carry out a diagnostic evaluation.

  • An audible heartbeat trace will be carried out during your reassurance scan, allowing you to hear your baby's heartbeat and helping our sonographer to ensure that the foetus is healthy.

  • We will also look to identify the baby's position and the placental site to make sure everything is in the right place.

Want to book a reassurance scan?

reAssure™ is our standard 2D reassurance scan here at First Encounters Ultrasound. However, a reassurance scan is included in all of our ultrasound packages (with the exception of pureGender and taster4D™), so the information listed above will almost always be collected as part of your First Encounters experience.

Click here to compare our scan packages, or get in touch to find out more and book your reassurance scan.

Image by moke076
2D scan vs. 4D scan
 
A lot of the people we speak to aren't quite sure of the difference between a 2D scan and a 3D/4D scan. We offer both options here at First Encounters - today, we're going to explain each option in detail, helping you to select the ultrasound scan package that suits you best.

4D Scans

A 4D ultrasound scan - such as our Superior4D™ package - allows you to see what your baby really looks like via detailed three-dimensional footage. Some clinics offer '3D scans', which give still images of your unborn child; here at First Encounters, we specialise in 4D ultrasound, which allows you to see your baby moving around in real time. 3D scans produce photographs; 4D scans produce video footage.
 
Here are some further details about our 4D scans:
  • 3D/4D ultrasound technology renders an image from the surface of your baby's skin for unparalleled detail

  • Scan footage is projected onto a large plasma television screen, allowing you and your guests to watch

  • Our 4D scans are popular among expectant mothers who have already received their dating and anomaly scans, and who now wish to take a closer look at the baby that's growing inside them. Our 4D scans make fantastic baby bonding experiences, giving you a detailed glimpse into your baby's world and bringing you a little bit closer to the child you're about to bring into the world.

  • Some of our 4D scan packages (e.g. 4DgenderAssure™) include gender confirmation as standard; others allow you to find out the sex upon request. However, gender confirmation is always done via a 2D ultrasound scan, even if your package includes 3D/4D imaging.

  • After your 4D scan, you will have the opportunity to purchase a variety of lovely souvenirs that can be shared with friends and relatives. These range from printed photographs and DVDs to key rings, fridge magnets, and our adorable Heartbeat Bear (featuring your unborn baby's heartbeat!)
Baby heartbeat bear
 

2D Scans

2D ultrasound scans don't offer the same level of detail as our 4D packages - you won't really be able to see your baby's face, for example - but they still allow our sonographers to get all the important information about your child. Options like our reAssure™ package are designed to reassure you about your baby's growth and wellbeing; other 2D scan packages can even tell you whether your unborn baby is a boy or a girl!
 
Here's a little more information on our 2D baby scans:
  • A 2D ultrasound scan produces a black-and-white image that show's your baby's skeletal make-up and allows the sonographer to identify any potential anomalies. As previously mentioned, this two-dimensional view is also ideal for gender confirmation.

  • While a 2D scan doesn't afford the same level of detail and bonding as a full 4D package, you and your guests will still be able to watch the scan on our plasma screen TV and purchase a variety of cute souvenirs after the appointment.
Still not sure which scan is right for you?
Compare Our Ultrasound Packages >                                  Get In Touch For More Info >
 
Gender scan

'What sex is my baby?' is a question that we hear from a lot of expectant parents, but not everyone is interested in hearing the answer to that question - in fact, many of the people who come to us a for a pregnancy scan specifically ask not to be told their unborn baby's gender.

The Find Out or Wait? debate is one that's caused a lot of arguments. Many people can't imagine why anyone would want to delay the big reveal; others can't imagine why anyone would want to spoil the surprise ahead of time. Sometimes, even the parents themselves can't agree - one will want to find out right away, while the other will want to wait until the birth date!

Then, of course, there are the people on the fence. If you're reading this blog post, you may well be one of them. The question on your mind isn't 'What sex is my baby?' but 'Should I find out the sex of my baby?'

Today, we're going to help you decide. Here are some of the most common arguments for and against finding out:
  • For: You'll be able to pick a name sooner! Finding out your baby's sex instantly allows you to eliminate 50% of the names you're considering. You won't have to worry about choosing between 'Lily' and 'Ivy' if you already know that you're having a boy!

  • Against: You'll ruin the surprise! Finding out whether you're the parent of a boy or a girl is one of the biggest and best surprises you'll ever experience, and many people (including the author of this Huffington Post article) say that the surprise is all the better when you find out in the delivery room.

  • For: You get to tell all your friends and relatives! Your nearest and dearest are sure to be itching for updates on your pregnancy, and they'll be thrilled if they can find out the baby's gender ahead of the birth. You can even give them our Gender Reveal Cards to make it even more exciting!



  • Against: You'll end up with loads of pink/blue stuff! You may be able to resist the temptation to buy loads of colour-coded, gender-specific products for your baby after finding out the results of your gender scan, but that doesn't mean your friends and family won't do it for you. If you want to avoid the 'sports for boys/princesses for girls' stereotypes, leaving the gender unknown can be a good way to do so.

  • For: You won't be disappointed on the day! If you have your heart set on a specific sex for your unborn baby, it may be a good idea to find out in advance - that way, if it's not the gender you were hoping for, you'll have time to get over your disappointment and get excited all over again for the boy/girl that you're actually having!

  • Against: You won't be disappointed on the day anyway! The aforementioned Huffington article points out that, even if you were hoping for one gender or the other, that won't matter on the big day - any disappointment will be washed away by the excitement and joy of becoming a parent!

  • For: You'll feel closer to your baby! Many expectant parents find that knowing the gender helps them to feel closer to their baby during the pregnancy. After all, it's easier to visualise your future child when you know whether that child is a boy or a girl.

  • Against: The sonographer might get it wrong! The 'wait and see' camp love to make this point, and it's true that no gender scan is 100% infallible. That said, our sonographers can accurately identify the gender in the vast majority of cases, and if the baby's position makes it difficult for us to know for sure, we'll tell you so - we never just guess! Furthermore, we will show you the evidence for our decision on a large plasma screen during your appointment, so you won't just have to take our word for it.
Whether you want to find out your baby's gender or not, we at First Encounters Ultrasound are the people to call for your pregnancy scan. Note that gender is always depicted using traditional 2D ultrasound technology (even when a gender scan is included as part of one of our 4D packages); since gender is not visible on a 4D scan, you are not obliged to find out the gender if you get a 4D ultrasound session.

If you do want to find out your baby's gender, we have a variety of options to choose from. Gender can be ascertained from 16 weeks (we do not recommend booking a gender scan before the 16-week mark, as this greatly reduces the accuracy of the results). The cut-off point for a gender scan is 34 weeks maximum; after this point, a gender scan cannot be performed due to the size of your baby.

Browse our Scan Packages now to book your gender scan with First Encounters Ultrasound. If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call on 02920 732671.
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.