This year, we've decided to have a bit of festive fun and host a Christmas competition!

All you have to do to enter is:

  • Like the First Encounters Ultrasound Cardiff Facebook page
  • Like the competition photo on Facebook
  • And give our adorable bay reindeer teddy a new name!

It's that simple!

The competition will run from midday on Wednesday 12th December until midday on Friday 21st December, so you have plenty of time to get involved! The winner will be contacted shortly after!

Visit the First Encounters Cardiff Facebook Page here >

You can see more details about the competition and meet our baby reindeer who's looking for a new name here:

 

When it comes to pregnancy, many questions are asked about what you can and can’t have, especially when it comes to food and drink. Women and men alike suddenly find themselves reading labels anxiously, as well as googling ingredients and recipes that do good to pregnant women rather than harm. While some of the rules that come with pregnancy are black and white, many aren’t and are solely dependent on who you ask. One of the most popular questions asked, however, is concerned with coffee intake. Can pregnant women drink coffee? How much caffeine can you have while pregnant? Is too much caffeine bad? So, let’s find out!

How much caffeine is in coffee?

With increased levels of fatigue experienced by many pregnant women, coffee may always seem like the easy go-to in order to keep energy levels up, whether it’s to complete day-to-day tasks or manage other children and toddlers. But is it okay to do so? Well, the simple answer is yes, but in small daily amounts. Caffeine crosses the placenta and has been associated with low birth weights, therefore experts recommend that pregnant women take in no more than 200mg daily, approximately 2 cups of coffee. However, it is very important to note that not all coffee is caffeinated in equal measures. Caffeine content varies on the method of production and type. Drip coffee contains the highest levels (approximately 140-240mg per 240ml/8 oz) followed by brewed and then instant. So, as a general guideline, mothers-to-be can have two smalls cups of brewed coffee a day, but it is important to note other sources of caffeine such as fizzy/energy drinks and chocolate.

Reducing caffeine intake

If you are conscious about the levels of caffeine that you consume and want to lower these, or if you think you’ve hit your daily amount and are in search for an alternative to help satisfy your cravings, try these:

  • Drink water/fruit juice
  • Try herbal tea
  • Go decaf!

These may not be the coffee that you know and love, but they will definitely go a long way when cravings start to kick in while giving you peace of mind that you are doing no harm to you or your baby!

For further information on what’s safe to eat or drink while pregnant, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife – for further advice on pregnancy cravings and how to curb them, click below!

Pregnancy Cravings Advice >

Prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are lines and streaks that form in the middle (dermis) layer of your skin as it grows and stretches. They are often red or purple in colour at first but they gradually fade, leaving a silver/white coloured mark. They aren’t always uniform in shape and size, they can be long or short, thick or thin.

Stretch marks can appear at any time in your life, and some people are more prone to getting them than others. For example, if your mother or father has stretch marks then it’s likely that you will too.

Because your body changes and grows so much when you’re pregnant, it’s likely that you’ll see some stretch marks appearing on your stomach, legs and breasts during pregnancy, even if you haven’t noticed any before.

A lot of women feel quite self-conscious about developing stretch marks whilst they’re pregnant, and while we think that stretch marks are a beautiful and something to be embraced, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce the appearance of your stretch marks if you prefer to.

Ways to prevent & reduce the appearance of stretch marks:

1.      Moisturise and Hydrate

Drinking enough water is always important. But in this case, staying hydrated will ensure that your skin is soft and supple reducing the likelihood of stretch marks appearing. The recommended average daily water intake for a pregnant woman is around 10 glasses (although we know this can be tricky when you have extra pressure on your bladder, so do your best!)

Moisturising your stretch marks when they are fresh (red or purple in colour) also reduces the chances of them getting worse and helps them fade more quickly. Why not convince your partner to rub a stretch mark preventing oil or moisturiser in for you? Or incorporate a little bit of extra time to do this yourself into your daily routine.

2.      Try to control the rate at which you gain weight

Stretch marks predominantly occur because you gain (or lose) weight faster than the elastin in your skin can accommodate for, hence the tear-like appearance of stretch marks. Doing your best to control the speed of your weight gain throughout pregnancy can be a really effective way of preventing stretch marks. Try to plan a diet and exercise plan that will nourish you and your baby without you rapidly gaining weight.

3.      Wait for them to fade, change your outlook

Over time, any stretch marks that you do develop during pregnancy will fade and become much less noticeable. Unfortunately, experts haven’t created a fool-proof way of preventing or reducing the appearance of stretch marks yet, so it might be better altering your outlook and embrace your stretch marks. They are, after all, a gorgeous reminder of the little miracle your body is making.

We hope that this information has been helpful. While you’re here, why not take a look at our range of baby scans, we offer both 2D and 4D scans that give you a beautiful glimpse into your baby’s world.

Getting the right amount of sleep or finding a way to fall to sleep can be a real struggle for any person, let alone if you’re an expecting mother. Methods that you may have used to help you get a better quality of sleep may no longer work now that you’re pregnant, so what are you to do now? Read on to find out the things you need to do and the things you need to avoid when it comes to sleeping whilst pregnant!

When you fall pregnant, your body experiences a number of changes, which tend to affect the way in which you sleep. These changes lead to several reasons to why you may start to feel discomfort, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Heartburn

The good news about sleeping while pregnant is that there is no need to change the way you sleep until you reach your second trimester. So, with these things in mind, we take a look at the most common sleeping positions throughout the course of a pregnancy.

Sleeping on your back

Between 15 and 20 weeks gestation, the uterus grows big enough to start interfering with the flow of blood when sleeping on your back. The uterus can begin to compress the inferior vena cava (IVC), as well as tightening the aorta, which blocks the main blood supply to your body and placenta. Therefore, sleeping on your back during this stage of your pregnancy can decrease the amount of blood returned to the heart, resulting in shortness of breath or an increased heart rate when waking up.

Sleeping on your stomach

During the early stages of pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach is fine, but there will come a time where you will have to turn over, usually when the bump begins to show around 16/18 weeks. Once your bump starts to show, sleeping on your stomach can become uncomfortable and also have safety implications, similar to sleeping flat on your back. Sleeping on your stomach can cause your bump to move inside the stomach and again press against the IVC and aorta.

Sleeping on your side

The best and most commonly used sleeping position among pregnant women is referred to as ‘SOS’, which stands for sleep on side. More specifically sleeping on your left side, as this will help increase the number of nutrients and blood that reach both the placenta and baby. Sleeping on your right side can also compress the IVC, however, using pillows to prop up the uterus to prevent it sliding to the right can be helpful. It is not uncommon to fall asleep on your left side and wake up in a completely different position, on your back for example. If this does happen, there’s no need to worry as you probably weren’t in that position for very long. If you lay on your back during your third trimester, your blood flow will become compressed which will cause you to feel uncomfortable quite quickly, making you wake up. If you continue to wake up in a position other than your left side, ask your partner to check on you and move you back to your left side.

For further information on how to sleep when pregnant, or if you are experiencing troubles sleeping, get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible. If you require a baby scan during any point of your pregnancy, be sure to browse from our range below!

Our Scan Packages >

Are you trying to decide how and when to announce your pregnancy? Many women want to tell the whole world right away, but sharing your news on social media can make your nearest and dearest feel part of the masses and somewhat unimportant. Planning a unique, intimate pregnancy announcement is without a doubt the best way to share your special news!

When is the best time to announce a pregnancy?

No one can tell you when to announce your pregnancy, that decision is entirely up to you. Tell people when you feel comfortable and ready to. But, understanding how long other women wait to make their announcement, and why, might help you decide when the perfect time to make your announcement is.

When to tell your partner that you’re pregnant?

A lot of women are torn between telling their partner the minute they find out and waiting to reveal it in a more special way. We think that this is a decision best made according to your partner. After all, you know them better than we do.

Will they be upset if you don’t tell them right away? Or will they be happy that you took some time to plan something a little more special? However long you wait, your partner is sure to be overjoyed!

When to tell your family and friends?

Many women feel it’s better to wait until at least 12 weeks into their pregnancy before telling their family and friends because this is the point at which the likelihood of miscarriage dramatically reduces.

Alternatively, some mums will wait at least 16 weeks so that they can also reveal the gender of the baby (although you might start struggling to conceal your bump at this point!) If this sounds like the perfect time for you to reveal your pregnancy, why not book one of our simplyGender scans? Available from 16 to 26 weeks.

 

Pregnancy Announcement Ideas:

If you’re feeling creative then there are endless ways to announce your pregnancy. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Use your scan photos – A lovely way to reveal your pregnancy is to have some scan pictures pre-prepared for family and friends to look at, these first glimpses of the baby (or babies) are incredibly precious. Tuck your scan photos inside a card and enjoy the moment of delight and surprise when they open the card to reveal your surprise! 

If you want to reveal your pregnancy this way, but you can’t wait until your first NHS scan, why not book an earlyAssure scan? Available from as early as 8 weeks, you’ll take home 2 glossy black and white photographs to share with your loved ones.

  • Matching T-Shirts – why not host a pregnancy announcement party, and turn up in matching Mummy and Daddy t-shirts. The look on your family and friends’ faces will be priceless!
  • Get your pets involved – there are a lot of ways you can involve your furry friends in your pregnancy announcement. You can hold a photoshoot, dress them up, or have them jump up on you when you ask them where the baby is… (with a little bit of training.)
  • Write a personal message – handwritten messages are special enough nowadays, but writing one to tell someone special that your pregnant is sure to bring a tear to their eye.
  • Do a photoshoot with your other children – like the picture above, if you already have children you can stage a photoshoot letting your family and friends know that they’re being promoted to big brother/sister.

Whenever and however you decide to announce your pregnancy, we’re sure it’ll be a truly magical moment. Later in your pregnancy, you can get all your family and friends together again to meet your baby in 4D with one of First Encounter’s amazing 4D Ultrasound scans. We love the Deluxe4D scan, take a look and book yours now.