Need a Christmas present for a mum-to-be? Give the gift of a First Encounters baby scan!

3D Baby Scan Gift Voucher

Many mothers will tell you that the greatest gift they ever received was their little bundle of joy, so why not treat the expectant mother in your life to one of our 3D/4D baby scans? We offer a variety of different scan packages at our clinics in Bristol and Cardiff, so you're sure to find a choice that suits you and your budget.

Contact Us Now to Order a Baby Scan Voucher >

Our scans offer a truly unique experience for mothers-to-be and their guests, offering an intimate view of the baby and forming a bond that will last a lifetime. This state-of-the-art service is offered in a calm and cosy atmosphere, which helps our visitors to relax and enjoy this special experience.

Before you order your gift certificate, please take a look at our list of scan packages to view our prices and the services included in each package. When you are ready to purchase your gift card, give us a call on 02920 732671.

To find out more about First Encounters and our ultrasound services, visit our About Us page.

If you've had an ultrasound scan with First Encounters before, you may remember seeing the model that we keep in the clinic to show our visitors:

That is a model of a foetus at 20 weeks gestation. We often show it to the expectant parents who come to us for a scan, and almost without exception, they're always surprised to see how small the baby still is at that point. By 20 weeks, the mother's 'baby bump' is usually becoming fairly pronounced, and if you've ever been present during a 3D/4D scan, you'd be forgiven for thinking that babies are rather large indeed by that stage!
 
4D Scan Image
 
Watching your unborn baby on a big TV screen tends to make them seem larger than they actually are!
 
Many an expectant mother has asked us how big her baby is at X weeks, and so we thought we'd put together a handy guide to baby size  and how it changes from conception to birth. We hope that this will give you a clearer idea of your little darling's current size!

How big is my baby at...

  •  ...4 weeks? Less than a twentieth of an inch long and less than a twentieth of an ounce in weight. At this point, your unborn child is just a tiny embryo, no bigger than a poppy seed. 

  •  ...8 weeks? About 16mm (0.63 inches) long, or roughly the size of a single baked bean. That's more than fifteen times larger than the 4-week-old embryo, although the baby's weight has barely changed since then - we're still talking about a small fraction of an ounce at this stage. 

  •  ...12 weeks? 2-3 inches long and about half an ounce in weight. You're currently carrying a foetus that's more or less the same size as a lime.

  •  ...16 weeks? Just under 5 inches long and about 3.5 ounces in weight. You're now in your second trimester, and the baby is about as big as an avocado.

  • ...20 weeks? 6 and a half inches in length, 10 and half ounces in weight. At this stage, your foetus is a mite shorter than a carrot but weighs quite a bit more.

  • ...24 weeks? Roughly 12 inches in length and somewhat over 1 pound weight-wise. Your unborn baby is growing quite rapidly now, and their current size is roughly similar to that of a 500ml bottle of water.

  • ...28 weeks? By now, your baby should measure about 15 inches and weigh a little more than 2lbs. Picture an aubergine and you won't be too far off.

  • ...32 weeks? Nearly 17 inches, with a weight of around 3lbs 12oz. Remember how, at 24 weeks, your baby was about the size of a 500ml bottle of drink? Well, now he or she is closer to a 1.75 bottle.

  • ...36 weeks? 18.66 inches - that's just over 47cm - in length, and the best part of 6lbs in weight. By now, your baby is roughly the size of a melon.

  • ...40 weeks? Now that you're almost ready to give birth, your baby likely weighs 7-9lbs (although this varies quite a lot) and measures between 20 and 21 inches.
If you'd like to take a closer look at your unborn baby, click here to browse the 3D/4D scan packages available at your nearest First Encounters Ultrasound clinic.

Pregnancy Symptoms

If you've recently become pregnant, you're probably wondering what's in store for you over the next 9 months!

To make sure you have all the details you'll need throughout your pregnancy, we've made a week-by-week list of all the most common pregnancy symptoms. Please note that every pregnancy is different, and some people may experience certain symptoms earlier or later than others (if at all), so please don't worry if your own pregnancy doesn't perfectly match the list below.

 

5 Weeks Pregnant

This is a very common time for women to find out that they are pregnant. This is a very early stage, so don't be surprised if you aren't experiencing any pregnancy symptoms just yet.

However, you may experience:

  • Fatigue - Your body is embarking on a journey that requires a lot of energy, so even at 5 weeks, you may develop a sudden fondness for naps.

  • Frequent Urination - At 5 weeks, your kidneys are beginning to expand, so you might find yourself making more trips to the loo than usual!

 

7 Weeks Pregnant

You're almost two months in, and it's probably starting to feel a little more real. That being said, it's not unusual to have few (if any) symptoms at 7 weeks - remember, it's still relatively early in your pregnancy.

Some people experience the following symptoms around the 7-week mark:

  • Acne - Your hormones are all over the place right now, so breakouts are completely normal. Just make sure you check with your doctor before using any skin treatments to combat your spots.

  • Cravings - Are you craving foods that you wouldn't normally eat? Or perhaps an old favourite seems strangely unappealing all of a sudden? This is a normal pregnancy symptom, which usually comes paired with morning sickness. Speaking of which...

  • Nausea - The dreaded morning sickness! In spite of its common name, the feeling of nausea can sadly strike at any time of day. You may experience just a touch of nausea, or you may actually vomit - in either case, this is a common side effect of pregnancy at around 7 weeks and probably isn't anything to worry about.

 

9 Weeks Pregnant

After nine or ten weeks, you'll probably have experienced most of the pregnancy symptoms that tend to strike during the first trimester. In addition to the symptoms listed above, you may now notice:

  • Headaches - Your hormones are still surging, and this can lead to headaches (which can also be brought on by hunger, dehydration and exhaustion - so make sure you're getting plenty of food, water and rest).

  • Nasal Congestion - This is perhaps one of pregnancy's lesser-known side effects. By this stage, you may well notice an increase in your body's mucus production.

  • Breast Tenderness - Your body is prepping for breast feeding and blood flow to this area is increasing, often leading to breast tenderness.

 

12 Weeks Pregnant

Week twelve is the final week of your first trimester. Your baby has now grown from a tiny cluster of cells into a foetus, and your uterus will be starting to expand beyond your pelvic bones. In addition to all of the symptoms we've already discussed, you may now be experiencing:

  • Dizzy Spells - Those pesky hormones - particularly when coupled with changes in blood pressure - may cause you to feel dizzy. Make sure you sit down or rest during dizzy spells, and always eat/drink regularly to keep your energy up!

  • Pelvic Pain - As your uterus expands, you may experience some aches and pains. It is best to avoid any heavy exercise and be thoughtful about how you position yourself - you don't want to put any unnecessary stress on sensitive regions.

 

From Here on Out...

As you head into your second trimester, your pregnancy symptoms should become less erratic. Now you can look forward to your bump getting bigger and the baby starting to kick. You will probably continue to experience some aches and pains, and you should continue to go for regular check-ups to make sure that you and your baby-to-be are both healthy.

Here are a few milestone moments to look out for later in your pregnancy journey:

  • 13-15 Weeks Pregnant: This is generally the point at which you'll need to purchase maternity clothes. Of course, you may want to buy it earlier just for the comfort it provides!

  • 20-25 Weeks Pregnant: It's around this time that you'll start to feel your baby kicking. Again, every pregnancy is different, so don't worry too much if you have to wait a bit longer.

  • Approaching Due Date: Few women actually give birth on their exact due date. Nonetheless, it's an important date, and its passing signifies that your new baby will be with you very soon!

 

If you're 8-13 weeks pregnant, why not book an earlyAssure™ scan with First Encounters? We also offer 3D/4D scans for when you're a little further along and you're ready to see what your little one looks like!

Our clinics are located in Bristol and Cardiff.

Image from pixabay.com

Have you ever found yourself wondering what an ectopic pregnancy is, what causes one, or what signs indicate an ectopic pregnancy? We have put together an informal guide on spotting the signs of an ectopic pregnancy, which also explains the condition in greater detail, and outlines its possible impact on future fertility.
 
What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
 
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually inside one of the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the womb. Often it causes pain and bleeding, which may develop into a Fallopian tube rupture with internal bleeding, should the pregnancy be left untreated.
 
This presents significant health risks to the individual as the pregnancy develops, which means that it has to be removed, either using medication or by performing an operation in more serious cases. Sadly, the pregnancy cannot be saved due to the serious nature of the condition, which can be fatal if left untreated.
 
 
What is the Cause?
 
While the cause of an ectopic pregnancy isn't always clear, it is sometimes due to an issue with the Fallopian tubes, in the case that they are too narrow or have become blocked. An egg will usually spend around five days travelling down the tube and into your womb, where it should implant and develop if fertilised. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the egg hasn't travelled far enough when it implants, leading to it developing in the tube itself.
 
While there are certain factors which increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, one in three women who suffer the abnormality will have none of the known risk factors. It is important to know what these risk factors are as it may aid in identifying the condition if you are aware of your own personal risk level.
 
You could be at greater risk if:
  • You've suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease (often caused by chlamydia)
  • You've had abdominal surgery, such as appendix removal or a c-section
  • You've become pregnant using IVF
  • You've become pregnant whilst using an IUD or taking the contraceptive mini-pill.
  • You've suffered a previous ectopic pregnancy 
 
 
How Common is the Condition?
 
An ectopic pregnancy happens in around one in every ninety pregnancies in the UK, however, this risk increases to one in ten for the individual who has suffered an ectopic pregnancy before.  In 98% of cases, it will implant in the Fallopian tubes, but in some cases, the egg can implant in the abdomen, ovary, cervix or within a c-section scar.
 
 
What are the Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy?
 
Identifying an ectopic pregnancy isn't always straightforward because the symptoms can sometimes mirror those of a period or miscarriage, causing cramping and bleeding. The symptoms may also develop gradually, or come upon the individual suddenly, with the early stages sometimes developing without any symptoms at all.
 
Some symptoms include:
  • Expected signs of pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding that is different from your usual period, which can sometimes be lighter and brighter in colour, or darker than usual
  • Pain in your lower abdomen/pelvis, which can be gradual or sudden, and may be on one side.
 
Signs of a severe case which has caused a rupture include:
  • Lightheaded/faint feelings
  • Diarrhoea or pain when passing water/stools 
  • Shock or collapse due to internal bleeding
  • Shoulder tip pain, which may be made worse by lying down
 
How Does Suffering an Ectopic Pregnancy Impact Future Fertility?
 
The chances of having a healthy pregnancy after suffering an ectopic pregnancy will depend on the individual, as it relates to the health of your fallopian tubes, and that of the remaining tube if you have had to have one removed. If it has been caused by a previous pelvic infection, this may have a further impact on your fertility.
 
One healthy tube means that you have a good chance of conceiving again, and six out of ten women manage to do so effectively, going on to have a healthy pregnancy. For those who struggle to conceive, IVF may be an option.
 
If you would like to try to become pregnant after suffering an ectopic pregnancy, you should first ensure that you have properly healed from the physical and emotional damage. As always, you should consult your doctor in order to gain the best advice for your personal case.
 
In the case of keyhole surgery, you should wait until you've had at least two full menstrual cycles before trying for a baby, and six months in the case of abdominal surgery. If you've taken methotrexate, you should wait at least three months before trying to conceive, to ensure that it is out of your system completely.
 
If you suspect that you may be suffering an ectopic pregnancy, see your doctor at once, or go to the hospital directly if you feel that your symptoms are becoming worse.
 
The earlyAssure™ scan package from First Encounters Ultrasound is an early pregnancy scan that can identify ectopic pregnancies and other potential issues early on. Click here to book your earlyAssure™ scan.

Back in February last year, a debate about choosing your baby’s gender was sparked by Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend revealing that they choose for their baby, Luna, to be born a girl. Understandably, this led many parents-to-be to question how this was possible and if they could do the same.
 
To answer the question: yes, choosing your baby’s gender is now possible due to the introduction of Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). However, this only becomes an option to couples under certain circumstances. The gender selection procedure only becomes available to couples who want to avoid passing sex-linked genetic disorders onto their children, such as Haemophilia in males and Rett Syndrome in females. 
 
However, in some circumstances, it becomes available to parents who would also like to ‘balance’ their family by having a child of each gender. Hormone tests are also run to check the client’s fertility and age limits are sometimes implemented. Some clinics will not consider clients unless they are married or already have at least one child of the opposite sex they’re trying for.

Methods of Gender Selection


The most accurate methods of choosing your baby’s gender can be very expensive and typically mean the mother-to-be has to undergo invasive infertility treatments, alongside taking fertility drugs with potential side effects. 

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the main procedures which allows gender selection. IVF is a method of fertilization outside of the womb, starting with a round of fertility drugs which help your ovaries create more than the natural amount of eggs (typically one per month). In an IVF procedure, the patient is placed under anesthetic before the doctor inserts an ultra sound probe through the vagina to check the ovaries and follicles. A thin needle is then inserted through the vagina wall to remove the eggs from the follicles.

The next step is for the extracted eggs to be fertilized in a Petri dish. Once the eggs become embryos after 3-5 days, they are inserted back into the patient’s uterus. If you’re younger than 35 and your embryos are healthy, no more than two are usually transferred.

 

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Preimplantation Genetic Screening


The baby gender selection process happens during the IVF procedure, where one or two cells are removed from the embryo and tested for genetic or chromosomal disorders. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) can be used to screen the embryos and predict the baby’s gender. Parents who are hoping to avoid gender-linked disorders usually opt for PGD as the test exposes any underlying conditions the baby may have. By changing the gender of the baby, the prospective parents hope to avoid this disorder. 
 
Preimplantation Genetic Screening is typically used by patients to check if their baby has down syndrome, or are hoping to ‘balance’ their family. Both tests are almost 100% accurate at determining the gender of the baby, and any remaining embryos are frozen so they can be used in the future if the couple decides to make more children.
 
The advancement of science truly is something to marvel at, but as these methods can be expensive and invasive, waiting to find out the gender of your child can be just as exciting. Wondering what your baby will be is one of the most magical parts of carrying a child and the long awaited day of the gender reveal is a milestone in the pregnancy. Here at First Encounters, we offer gender scans from just 16 weeks, so you don’t have to wait too long either. 

The earlyAssure™ option is a scan package we offer to parents who may be worried about the pregnancy as it can identify potential issues with the baby from as early as 8 weeks. Click here to find out more information and book your earlyAssure™ scan.