First Encounters
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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.
 
 

A common first sign of pregnancy is tenderness of the breasts and from this point onwards you can expect to experience a variety of other changes. Your breasts, much like the rest of your body, need to prepare for the arrival of your little one.

  1. Initially, a flood of hormones will start to change the breast tissue so it’s able to make milk, this can make your breasts feel swollen and tender. A common misconception is that your breasts will grow to a humongous size. This isn’t always the case, but you should definitely expect them to change in size.

 

  1. As your breasts grow, you might notice that veins and glands appear more noticeable, your nipples and areola might become a few shades darker too. All of these changes are completely normal. At this point, you might want to consider going for a bra fitting as you may not be able to fit in your usual bras anymore. Cotton, stretchy & comfortable bras are ideal during your pregnancy, and will likely come in handy after the birth when you are breastfeeding!

 

  1. Breast lumps are very common during pregnancy but can cause you to worry when you find them. According to breastcancercare.org.uk, the likelihood of a woman of child-bearing age, or bearing a child, developing breast cancer is highly unlikely, however, it's recommended that you have any new breast lumps checked by your GP, which will also put your mind at ease.

 

  1. After sixteen weeks of pregnancy, your breasts are capable and ready to produce milk. At this time, it’s likely that you might experience some fluid leaking from your nipples. We recommend purchasing some washable nipple pads that you can place inside your bra if you’re worried about people noticing.

 

We hope you have found this blog helpful, if you experience any abnormal discomfort, or you notice any unusual changes in your breasts during your pregnancy, you should contact your doctor.

If you’d like to come and see us for a First Encounters ultrasound during your pregnancy then click the button below to view our different scan packages.

Our Scan Packages >

It can be difficult to secure an ultrasound scan at an NHS clinic over the Christmas period. But don't worry, our First Encounters clinics & phone lines are open throughout the Christmas period. If you'd like to make an enquiry or book an appointment, please refer to the Christmas opening hours chart below.

From all of us here at First Encounters, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Date

Cardiff

Bristol (Portishead)

Sat 22nd

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Sun 23rd

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Mon 24th

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Tues 25th

Clinic closed

Phone lines closed

Clinic closed

Phone lines closed

Wed 26th

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Thurs 27th

Clinic open

phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Fri 28th

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Sat 29th

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Sun 30th

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Mon 31st

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am-4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Tues 1st

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Wed 2nd

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Thurs 3rd

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Fri 4th

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 8pm

Sat 5th

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic closed

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Sun 6th

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am - 4pm

Clinic open

Phone lines open 8am-4pm

 

This year, we've decided to have a bit of festive fun and host a Christmas competition!

All you have to do to enter is:

  • Like the First Encounters Ultrasound Cardiff Facebook page
  • Like the competition photo on Facebook
  • And give our adorable bay reindeer teddy a new name!

It's that simple!

The competition will run from midday on Wednesday 12th December until midday on Friday 21st December, so you have plenty of time to get involved! The winner will be contacted shortly after!

Visit the First Encounters Cardiff Facebook Page here >

You can see more details about the competition and meet our baby reindeer who's looking for a new name here:

Prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are lines and streaks that form in the middle (dermis) layer of your skin as it grows and stretches. They are often red or purple in colour at first but they gradually fade, leaving a silver/white coloured mark. They aren’t always uniform in shape and size, they can be long or short, thick or thin.

Stretch marks can appear at any time in your life, and some people are more prone to getting them than others. For example, if your mother or father has stretch marks then it’s likely that you will too.

Because your body changes and grows so much when you’re pregnant, it’s likely that you’ll see some stretch marks appearing on your stomach, legs and breasts during pregnancy, even if you haven’t noticed any before.

A lot of women feel quite self-conscious about developing stretch marks whilst they’re pregnant, and while we think that stretch marks are a beautiful and something to be embraced, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce the appearance of your stretch marks if you prefer to.

Ways to prevent & reduce the appearance of stretch marks:

1.      Moisturise and Hydrate

Drinking enough water is always important. But in this case, staying hydrated will ensure that your skin is soft and supple reducing the likelihood of stretch marks appearing. The recommended average daily water intake for a pregnant woman is around 10 glasses (although we know this can be tricky when you have extra pressure on your bladder, so do your best!)

Moisturising your stretch marks when they are fresh (red or purple in colour) also reduces the chances of them getting worse and helps them fade more quickly. Why not convince your partner to rub a stretch mark preventing oil or moisturiser in for you? Or incorporate a little bit of extra time to do this yourself into your daily routine.

2.      Try to control the rate at which you gain weight

Stretch marks predominantly occur because you gain (or lose) weight faster than the elastin in your skin can accommodate for, hence the tear-like appearance of stretch marks. Doing your best to control the speed of your weight gain throughout pregnancy can be a really effective way of preventing stretch marks. Try to plan a diet and exercise plan that will nourish you and your baby without you rapidly gaining weight.

3.      Wait for them to fade, change your outlook

Over time, any stretch marks that you do develop during pregnancy will fade and become much less noticeable. Unfortunately, experts haven’t created a fool-proof way of preventing or reducing the appearance of stretch marks yet, so it might be better altering your outlook and embrace your stretch marks. They are, after all, a gorgeous reminder of the little miracle your body is making.

We hope that this information has been helpful. While you’re here, why not take a look at our range of baby scans, we offer both 2D and 4D scans that give you a beautiful glimpse into your baby’s world.