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4D scans
 
We get asked a lot of questions here at First Encounters Ultrasound, but perhaps the most common query of all concerns the safety of the scans that we provide. Many expectant parents feel slightly apprehensive about the idea of undergoing an ultrasound scan for fear that it will have a detrimental effect on the mother and/or her unborn baby.
 
The good news is that, in 30 years of study and research, ultrasound has not been found to cause any harm whatsoever to mother or baby. As the name suggests, ultrasound technology relies on sound waves, which are perfectly safe at the intensity used for the purposes of pregnancy scanning.
 
Ultrasound scans are now the norm throughout the UK; even if you don't visit the First Encounters clinic for a private scan, you will likely undergo two NHS ultrasound scans over the course of your pregnancy to check on your baby's development.
 

But what about 4D scans?

Most of the parents who enquire about the safety of our scans are referring specifically to our 4D scan packages; that is, the scans that capture 3D footage like this:
 
 
A lot of people assume that 4D scans must use a higher intensity than standard 2D scans, if not a different type of technology altogether. Many of the parents-to-be that we encounter have already received one ultrasound scan by the time we speak to them, and even some of these people are concerned about the side effects of our 4D scanning equipment.
 
If you are harbouring any such concerns yourself, allow us to put your mind at ease: 4D ultrasound scans have been shown to be completely safe for both mother and baby. Our 4D probe operates at the same intensity as our 2D scanning equipment, emitting sound waves into the body and creating an image based on the echoes it hears. The technology actually has a lot in common with radar!
 
Ultrasound scans do not expose you or your baby to radiation and they are generally painless. The only side effects you may experience is a small amount of discomfort as we run the probe over your skin or insert it into your body. 
 
None of the ultrasound scans we offer have been shown to have any harmful effect on human beings, so when you and your unborn child pay us a visit, you can rest assured that our service is not putting either of you in any danger whatsoever.
2D scan vs. 4D scan
 
Many people 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 Deluxe4D&Growth™ 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 baby; 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 Growth&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, but please check if this is available with your chosen scan.

  • 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 >
 
 
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 4D scan, as this allows us to accommodate babies who are developing at a slower or faster rate than average. 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 baby 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
 
Upon request, we can also determine the gender of your baby during your 4D scan, making the experience all the more memorable. Add a gender reveal confetti shooter to your scan package for a truly spectacular gender reveal with friends and family!
 

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.
 
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.