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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.

HD Live Ultrasound Equipment

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!
 
If you're pregnant and you've recently booked a reassurance scan, you may well be wondering what to expect on the day. Conversely, perhaps you're still trying to decide what kind of ultrasound package is right for you, in which case you may wish to learn more about the reassurance scan and what this option has to offer. Either way, the First Encounters team are here to help!

One important thing to bear in mind is that a reassurance scan is not a substitute for the standard 20 week anomaly scan that's offered by the NHS. Instead, your reassurance scan will complement the results of the NHS appointment, giving you more information and further reassurance that your baby is developing normally without aiming to reach the same level of diagnostic detail.

The main aim of a reassurance scan is to check on the progression of your pregnancy and identify the general health, growth, and wellbeing of your unborn baby. It can be carried out at any point during your pregnancy starting from 14 weeks gestation.

Your reassurance scan will reveal the following information:

  • Growth measurements (including head circumference, abdominal circumference, and femur length). This information allows us to plot your baby's growth onto our average growth chart, which will tell us if your baby is developing faster or slower than average. Our ultrasound machine can also use these measurements to calculate foetal weight.

  • Fluid levels will be observed - these are crucial to the wellbeing of your baby and to the safe progression of your pregnancy, so if we notice that your levels are markedly above or below the set protocol, we will use the four-quadrant technique to collect additional data that will help your NHS doctor to carry out a diagnostic evaluation.

  • An audible heartbeat trace will be carried out during your reassurance scan, allowing you to hear your baby's heartbeat and helping our sonographer to ensure that the foetus is healthy.

  • We will also look to identify the baby's position and the placental site to make sure everything is in the right place.

Want to book a reassurance scan?

reAssure™ is our standard 2D reassurance scan here at First Encounters Ultrasound. However, a reassurance scan is included in all of our ultrasound packages (with the exception of pureGender and taster4D™), so the information listed above will almost always be collected as part of your First Encounters experience.

Click here to compare our scan packages, or get in touch to find out more and book your reassurance scan.

Image by moke076
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!