Given that pregnant women in the UK receive two (and, in some cases, more than two) free ultrasound scans on the NHS, some people may be a little unsure as to what private scan providers like First Encounters bring to the table. How do private baby scans differ from their government-funded counterparts? Is a hospital scan still necessary if you're planning to undergo a private scan anyway?
Well, first of all, we'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: our scans are not intended to replace the dating and anomaly scans offered by the NHS. Under no circumstances do we recommend getting a private scan instead of a standard hospital scan; instead, services like ours are intended to complement the crucial NHS scans, allowing you to monitor the vital signs across a longer period and enhancing the pregnancy experience for you and those closest to you.
Monitoring your pregnancy
Here are some examples of the data that our sonographers will record when you come in for your private scan:
- Growth measurements
- Weight measurements
- Baby position
- Placenta position
- Fluid levels (low fluid levels can be dangerous and may lead to early delivery)
Your NHS scans will provide you with a lot of information and spot any problems that present themselves at the time, but augmenting your basic scans with an additional private scan allows you to monitor your baby's growth across a broader period. This means that we can not only give you continued peace of mind but also catch any problems that develop after your hospital scans.
Enhancing your experience
While pregnancy can be a very stressful experience, it is also a time of great joy and excitement, both for the expectant parent(s) and for their nearest and dearest. This is the side of pregnancy that First Encounters aims to enhance - here are some of the ways in which we do it:
- Comfortable, modern clinics with state-of-the-art equipment
- Space for up to 6 guests to observe your scan in our comfortable viewing area
- 4D scan packages that let you glimpse your baby's world in incredible detail
- A range of gender scan options (note that some NHS hospitals do not offer gender confirmation)
- A wide variety of souvenirs to choose from, including our adorable Heartbeat Teddy & Confetti Shooters
These are the things that set our scans apart from standard hospital scans (and, indeed, from those available in other private clinics). While the NHS dating and anomaly scans are still a crucial part of ensuring that your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible, undergoing a private baby scan is a different - and hopefully far more enjoyable - experience altogether.
There is very little in life that compares to the very special feeling and excitement that comes with being pregnant. Undergoing an ultrasound scan
, keeping track of your baby’s development, and watching them grow can provide very special bonding moments for a couple that’s expecting.
In addition to providing these special moments for new families, scans can also pick up potential health issues and warning signs that can be caught by attending private scans in addition to the usual 8-14 week NHS Scan. Your baby’s health is our main priority here at First Encounters, so all of our sonographers are fully trained to identify any potential health issues during your scan.
During every scan, we perform some essential checks to ensure that your baby is growing and developing at a healthy rate. Firstly, we measure your baby’s growth in the womb and compare this to the average for how far along you are. If your baby is significantly smaller or larger than average, this can indicate a problem; if your baby appears small, then this could mean that your baby is not growing properly. This can be because your baby is not getting the oxygen it needs to thrive. There are many reasons as to why this can be, such as abnormalities in the placenta, medical conditions, or the fact that you are carrying twins. If one of our sonographers identifies this to be an issue, we will inform you immediately and refer you to a hospital if we feel that this is necessary.
Secondly, we will measure your amniotic fluid levels. When you are pregnant, your growing baby is protected inside an amniotic sac within your womb. This sac is filled with fluid to protect your baby from harm if your tummy is bumped or squashed while you are pregnant. The amount of amniotic fluid increases throughout your pregnancy; however, if your baby is smaller than expected for the date, it could be because you have low fluid levels.
Our sonographer will check your fluid levels, and if we find any abnormalities, we will refer you to a hospital to get a professional medical opinion.
As well as determining the due date and the gender of your baby, private pregnancy scans are designed to reassure you that you and your baby are developing well, and that there are no issues throughout your pregnancy. A private scan should NEVER be used as a substitute for a standard hospital scan, but undergoing a private scan in addition to your NHS scans can alert sonographers to potential health issues that were not present (or visible) at first.
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