There are many different ultrasound scan packages available to pregnant women nowadays, and this variety can sometimes cause confusion. Every scan is of course different, but above all else, it’s important to understand the distinction between elective ultrasound scans and medical ultrasound scans.
What is the difference between medical and elective scans?
Simply put, a medical ultrasound scan is one that’s ordered by a doctor/midwife, while an elective ultrasound scan is one that you choose to undergo yourself. Medical scans are generally available for free on the NHS, whereas elective (or ‘keepsake’) scans will be delivered by private companies who charge a fee for the services they provide.
Most women in the UK undergo two medical ultrasound scans as standard over the course of a pregnancy; these scans are intended to track the baby’s growth/development, calculate a due date, and identify any anomalies that may be present.
In addition to these two scans, a pregnant woman may choose to undergo one or more elective ultrasound scans over the course of her pregnancy.
Why book an elective ultrasound scan?
Reasons for choosing to undergo an elective ultrasound scan vary from person to person. Here are some examples of what a keepsake scan can provide:
- High quality 3D/4D imaging. Medical scans generally result in 2D images only. Some elective ultrasound scans give the expectant parents a closer, more detailed look at their unborn child - some of our customers are even treated to the sigh of their baby-to-be smiling and waving!
- Early gender confirmation. While medical scans can provide gender confirmation (i.e. whether your baby will be a boy or a girl), many elective scan providers allow their customers to discover this information several weeks earlier. Our gender scans start at 16 weeks.
- Additional information. Attending an elective ultrasound session in addition to your NHS scans will allow you to track your baby’s growth over a longer timeframe. We may also spot problems/anomalies that develop after you’ve been to the hospital.
- Keepsakes and souvenirs. Most elective scan providers offer a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs, which can be taken home after the scan and shared with family and friends. Common examples include glossy photographs, DVD recordings, key rings, and fridge magnets; we at First Encounters also offer the ever-popular Heartbeat Bear!
An elective ultrasound scan should NEVER be used as a substitute for a medical scan. Instead, elective scans are intended to complement the scans provided by the NHS, giving you an enjoyable experience and allowing you to feel that much closer to your unborn child.
Here's a question we often hear:
"Do I have to visit your clinic for my ultrasound scan? Can you come to me instead?"
It's not hard to imagine why a mum-to-be might prefer to undergo an ultrasound scan in the comfort of her own home. After all, pregnancy can make it quite difficult to get around (particularly for those who don't drive - we can probably all agree that sitting at home and waiting for the sonographer to knock is a far more enticing proposition than standing around at a bus stop!)
But while we understand why people ask this question, the answer - sadly - is no, we don't recommend undergoing an ultrasound scan at home
. There are a number of reasons why we at First Encounters Ultrasound
don't offer home ultrasound scans, including the following:
- Our clinics are hygienic, comfortable, and fit for purpose. There's no way of ensuring that each customer's home will meet these crucial requirements.
- Our equipment is not mobile. We at First Encounters are proud to use the very best ultrasound devices currently on the market (including HD Live). While our state-of-the-art equipment is ideal for producing top-quality images, it sadly isn't very portable, meaning that we would not be able to offer the same high standard if we operated outside of our own premises.
However, there's another, even more important reason why we don't offer home ultrasound scans: industry regulation. In England, our work is strictly regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and since their standards don't account for home visits, we would lose our CQC-approved status if we started offering this service.
Interestingly, Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW, the Welsh equivalent of the CQC) actually don't regulate diagnostic and screening services such as ours, which is why some companies who do offer home ultrasound scans are registered in Wales, even though they operate exclusively on the English side of the border
(very shady if you ask us!) That being said, it is our own policy that our Cardiff
clinic must meet the same industry standards as those located in England, and so we are unable to offer a 'mobile' service from any of our locations.
If you are thinking of booking an ultrasound scan, it's always better to choose a professional, regulated provider who can offer you the very highest level of service.
As you're probably aware, we offer a variety of different baby gender scans here at First Encounters Ultrasound.
Countless parents have visited our clinics in the hope of discovering their unborn baby's gender - some do it so that they can decide on an appropriate name, while others ask to learn the gender in advance because they simply can't wait for the birth!
If you're thinking of getting a gender scan, you may well be wondering how accurate gender scans are, and how sure the sonographer will be when he or she reveals the gender of your unborn child.
How accurate are baby gender scans?
The answer is 'very accurate indeed', at least as far as we're concerned! Our sonographers are extremely well-trained and generally won't state the sex of the baby unless they're absolutely certain of your baby's gender.
To allow for an accurate gender confirmation, the baby's sex organs must be: a) reasonably fully-formed, and b) visible on the ultrasound scan. Our baby gender scans are available from 16 weeks onwards; we cannot confirm gender before this point for the simple reason that, generally speaking, genitalia are not visibly formed until around the 16-week mark!
Once you've reached 16 weeks gestation, our ability to predict your child's gender depends on their position inside the womb. Every so often, an expectant mother will come in for a gender scan only to find that her little one is resting in a position that makes it difficult for us to get an accurate idea of their sex. On these occasions, we ask the mother to take a brief stroll so as to get the foetus moving; we will then re-commence the gender scan, hopefully with more success.
What if we're unable to confirm your baby's gender?
It's a very rare occurrence, but if we can't tell what sex your baby is even after you've been for a walk, we will happily offer you one complimentary re-scan on a date that suits you. As previously mentioned, we will NEVER 'just guess' your baby's sex; if your gender scan proves inconclusive, you will be told as much by your sonographer. We have a reputation to uphold here at First Encounters Ultrasound, and so we will only ever tell you what we see on the scan - nothing more, nothing less.
Any other questions? Get in touch with a member of the First Encounters Ultrasound team today!
It's a big week for us here at First Encounters Ultrasound - our brand new Voluson E6 system arrived yesterday, which means that we're now able to offer HD Live ultrasound scans at our clinic in Cardiff.
What is HD Live?
HD Live is the very latest in 4D ultrasound technology. It allows us to show you your unborn child in greater detail than ever before; HD Live images are far more clearly-rendered than those captured by other 3D/4D systems, giving you an even better idea of what your baby will look like when he or she finally arrives.
Furthermore, our new HD Live equipment offers an enhanced colour palette, enabling us to achieve an even greater level of realism in the images we capture:
Left: An image captured using HD Live ultrasound equipment.
Right: An image captured using standard 3D/4D ultrasound equipment.
Benefits of HD Live:
- Clearer, crisper images of your unborn baby
- Improved colouration of images/footage captured
- Feel even closer to the life growing inside you
How do I book an HD Live ultrasound scan?
If you would like to book an HD Live scan at our Cardiff clinic
, please give us a call on 02920 732671
or get in touch using our online contact form
. A member of our team will discuss the available options with you and recommend an HD Live scan package based on how far along your pregnancy is and what you wish to receive.
At present, HD Live scans are only available from the First Encounters Ultrasound clinic in Cardiff. However, we plan to roll out this technology in our Bristol clinic in the near future, so please stay tuned for further announcements on that front.
If you're expecting more than one baby, you may be wondering if you can still come to the First Encounters clinic for a 3D/4D bonding experience. In other words...
Can I have a 4D scan if I'm pregnant with twins?
Yes, you can! Many of the expectant mothers we meet are carrying more than one baby, and we frequently carry out scans (both 2D and 3D/4D) on unborn twins. After all, why should you be denied the breathtaking experience of glimpsing their world just because it's a little crowded in there?
However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind as you're booking your appointment with us. We recommend that twin scans are carried out between 22 and 26 weeks gestation; any later, and the footage we capture may not be of a satisfactory quality. You see, 4D ultrasound scans tend to give better results if the babies still have a little room in which to move around, and since two babies take up more space than one, we like to get the scan done a little earlier in cases of multiple pregnancies.
There's also the issue of payment. Twin scans take longer to perform than individual scans, and this will be reflected in the cost of your scan package. For all of our scans, there is a surcharge if you are carrying twins. This is because we effectively have to perform the scan twice, recording the position, measurements, and heartbeat of two babies instead of just one.
The following scan packages are available for multiple pregnancies:
- earlyAssure™ (8-13weeks) - a scan tailored to the early stages of pregnancy. We can date the pregnancy, visualise a heartbeat and identify if you're having twins! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £15).
- Growth&Reassure™ (14-32 weeks) - a scan that's designed to obtain growth measurements and check the wellbeing of your baby (or babies)! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £15).
- Growth&Presentation™ (33-40 weeks) - a scan that's designed to obtain growth measurements and check the wellbeing of your baby (or babies) later on in your pregnancy! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £15).
- simplyGender™ (16-32 weeks) - a cost-effective baby sexing scan. We will perform visual heartbeat and movement checks & you'll take home a variety of souvenirs. (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £25)
- secretGender™ (16-32 weeks) - a cost-effective baby scan, where the gender of your baby/babies will be discovered but not revealed! You will be able to reveal the gender in your own time, at a party or with your close family. (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £35).
- Gender&Growth™ (16-32 weeks) - a private gender scan where you and your guests will discover the gender of your baby/babies. During this scan, we endeavour to capture a 4D glimpse of your babies! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £30)
- Classic4D&Growth™ (18-32 weeks) - watch your unborn baby/babies in stunning 4D! Take home 3D photographic images to cherish forever. (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £40).
- Deluxe4D&Growth™ (24-32 weeks) - watch your unborn baby/babies in stunning 4D! Take your high-quality 3D photos home to cherish forever, suitable later in your pregnancy! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £45).
- Ultimate4D&Growth™ (24-32 weeks) - Our bespoke, ultimate package is a bonding, well being and 4D scan package rolled into one! (Multiple Pregnancy Surcharge £60)
We regret that we are not able to accommodate triplets (or quadruplets, quintuplets, etc.) in any of our scan packages.
Ready to meet your twins? Book your First Encounters Ultrasound scan now!