From key rings to magnets to our ever-popular Heartbeat Bear, we offer a great variety of baby scan souvenirs here at First Encounters - if you want to take home a memento of your ultrasound experience, there are plenty of options to choose from.
That said, the best souvenir of all is often the footage that we capture during the scan itself. Previously, the only way for our customers to take home their scan footage was on a DVD, but we now provide footage on a disc in the more versatile MP4 format. Furthermore, for an extra £10 you can upgrade to an even more convenient option: your ultrasound scan video on a USB stick!
Whether you visit us for a 2D scan or a 3D/4D scan, we can save your scan footage onto a handy little First Encounters USB stick for you to take home and use as you please. You will also receive the MP4 file on a disc as standard.
Unlike a DVD recording, the MP4 format allows you to accomplish the following with ease:
- Save your scan video to your own computer
- Create a backup version of your scan video
- Share the footage with friends and family online
- Burn multiple copies to disc as gifts for your loved ones
In addition to the video file, your First Encounters USB stick can also be loaded with all of the photographic images captured during your ultrasound scan (we usually capture at least 20-25 photos per scan). This means you'll have easy access to an extensive collection of pictures to post on Facebook and send to your relatives, no matter where in the world they are.
Ready to book your baby scan and create the memories you'll cherish for a lifetime? Click here to see our scan options, or visit our Clinic Locations page to find your nearest First Encounters Ultrasound clinic.
In the past, expectant parents weren't able to meet their baby until he or she was born. But thanks to the miracles of modern ultrasound technology, mums- and dads-to-be no longer have to wait that long!
Of course, ultrasound scans have been with us for over half a century, but the images captured during 'traditional' ultrasound scans - while useful for diagnostic purposes - don't give a particularly good impression of what the baby actually looks
like. However, more recent breakthroughs have allowed us to get a good, clear look at an unborn baby's face, and thanks to the latest HDlive technology
from GE Healthcare, we at First Encounters are able to offer an truly unparalleled level of detail to parents who are keen to sneak a peek at their 'bun in the oven'.
This image was captured using a GE Voluson E6 with HDlive technology. As of July 2016, all of our 3D/4D scans are conducted using a Voluson E6.
to compare our packages and book your baby scan online, or read on to find out what you can expect when you meet your baby at our clinic!
What to expect from your First Encounters scan
We have two ultrasound clinics: one in Cardiff
, and another in Bristol
. Both have ample parking available for customer use, so don't worry about finding a space!
Once you've arrived, we'll welcome you into our spacious, modern clinic and show you to one of our comfortable scanning rooms (all of which have room for up to six guests - everyone is welcome, including young children!).
One of our scanning rooms.
Our sonographer will make sure you're comfortable and feeling at ease before commencing the scan. The scan itself will take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the package
you've selected. With any luck, we'll be able to get a great look at your baby on the first attempt, but if they're feeling camera shy we may ask you take a gentle stroll in order to get them moving.
During the scan, you'll see your baby in crisp HDlive vision - you should be able to tell which parent they most resemble, and you may even be lucky enough to see them smiling or waving back at you from the plasma screen!#
After your scan, you can collect all of the gifts and souvenirs included in your chosen scan package, as well as any others that you've decided to add on (click here
to view what we have to offer).
Expectant parents are often very keen to discover the gender of their unborn baby, and understandably so - knowing the gender is one of those things that really helps you to feel closer to your little bundle of joy. The people who come to our clinics for gender scans
frequently tell us that the baby seems a lot more 'real' to them once our sonographer has revealed whether it's a boy or a girl, and besides, finding out the sex is a nice little milestone to get excited for when the birth itself still seems a long way off.
With all of that in mind, it's easy to see why mums-to-be and dads-in-waiting might want to attend a gender scan as soon as possible. But attend a gender scan too early in your pregnancy, and it may be impossible to accurately identify the gender - a foetus doesn't develop sexual characteristics until a few weeks in, and nothing conclusive will actually be visible on an ultrasound scan until a little while after that.
What's the earliest I can have a gender scan?
Here at First Encounters Ultrasound we don't offer any gender confirmation scans before 16 weeks gestation. Other scan providers may offer slightly earlier scans, but we would strongly recommend that you do not attend a baby gender scan until at least the 16-week mark. Any earlier, and your baby probably won't have developed sufficiently for accurate gender identification.
Is it worth waiting a little longer?
While we're happy to provide gender scans from 16 weeks onwards, it's worth bearing in mind that not all babies develop at the same speed. Very occasionally, someone will come in for gender confirmation at 16 weeks and the sonographer still won't be able to find positive visual confirmation of the baby's sex. In these cases, we'll usually offer a complimentary re-scan at a later date (we'll never guess the gender if we're not confident in our prediction!) but to avoid disappointment, you may wish to wait an extra few days just to make sure that your baby has developed to the point where we're able to identify the gender.
You may have heard - or read - about the 'Doppler' heart monitors that are currently very popular among expectant parents. Dopplers are small handheld devices that use ultrasound technology to monitor your unborn baby's heartbeat, ostensibly giving you an easy way to hear your child's heartbeat in the comfort of your own home.
It's easy to imagine why these devices have become so popular. They are relatively cheap to purchase, and when they work, they enable you to hear the heartbeat (a very moving experience for many parents-in-waiting) without having to visit a hospital or a private ultrasound clinic.
But there's one problem with Dopplers that we've come across time and again: they sometimes fail to find a heartbeat. Unborn babies tend to move around and change position a lot (especially prior to 30 weeks gestation), and this means that it is often very difficult to find the right spot. And even if you do find the right spot, there's still no guarantee that you'll hear anything - our highly-trained sonographers occasionally struggle to pick up an audible heartbeat, and that's with a visual representation of the baby on-screen.
When a Doppler fails to deliver an audible heartbeat, it can understandably be a source of panic for the mother. In the majority of cases, the foetus turns out to be absolutely fine, but getting stressed and rushing to the hospital is neither healthy nor a particularly enjoyable experience when you're pregnant!
This isn't to say that Doppler monitors should necessarily be avoided. They have provided many heartwarming moments for expectant parents, and in some cases, they can be a great source of reassurance. However, they can also have the opposite effect, breeding panic when in reality the unborn baby is perfectly healthy. Please bear this in mind before using a Doppler, and remember that these handheld home devices are no substitute for a full ultrasound scan carried out by a registered health professional.
We have seen a few scan providers who do offer home visits, but these really are best avoided, for the following reasons:
- Portable scanning equipment is generally inferior to the state-of-the-art machinery found in the best ultrasound clinics
- Plugging equipment into an unprotected power source may result in electric shock to the mother / baby
- As explained here, regulated scan providers in England are not allowed to perform home scans as regulation only extends to a clinic environment
As much as we'd like to offer our clients the full First Encounters experience in the comfort of their own homes, there are simply too many obstacles - we wouldn't be able to deliver the professional, high-quality service that's available in our clinics.
Click here to see details of our ultrasound clinics in Cardiff and Bristol, or visit our Scan Packages page to browse the baby scan packages we offer.