We all love a bargain, and if you're interested in booking a 4D baby scan and getting a breathtaking glimpse of your unborn baby's face, you may be tempted to visit a deals / vouchers website like Groupon or Wowcher to see what discounts are currently available online. Groupon in particular seems to be perpetually flooded with dirt-cheap 4D ultrasound packages, with providers sometimes cutting their prices by 50% or even more in the hope of filling up more scan slots.
However, before you book a discounted 4D scan through a Groupon or Wowcher deal, here are some things you should take into consideration:
Many of the scan providers on Groupon are fairly new companies.
Offering a heavily-discounted scan package through a website like Groupon is a popular way for new scan providers with no established market presence to 'get the word out', as it were. An eye-catching offer can be a good way to get people talking about your company, and the hope is that customers who get the cut-price package will come back later for a full-price scan and/or recommend the clinic to their friends and family members in future.
The problem for customers, however, is that brand new companies have no track record by which to judge them. Established scan providers tend to have lots of reviews online, but when you go to a recently-opened ultrasound clinic that's using Groupon and Wowcher to drive that initial burst of bookings, you may not have any way of knowing whether they are able to provide a safe, satisfactory scanning experience using the right methods and equipment. This could mean that the sonographer is unable to capture good-quality footage of your baby, and in the worst cases, it could even put you / your baby in danger (e.g. from electric shocks).
Scan time may be very limited, and you may not be offered a re-scan.
We've found that many providers who sell their scan packages for reduced prices compensate for this by packing as many scan slots into the day as possible. This means that each customer's scan period must be rigidly adhered to and that's not always conducive to a satisfactory scan experience. For example, if the company has allotted 10 minutes for your 4D scan and the sonographer finds upon commencing the scan that your baby is facing the wrong way, you may not have time to go for a walk and try again because this would cause you to overrun your 10-minute window and cut into the next customer's appointment.
When this happens, most companies would offer a re-scan on a different date, but the fine print on Groupon offers often includes a stipulation like this:
"If satisfactory imagery cannot be obtained, no re-scan will be offered."
This means that you would have to pay full price for another appointment if your first, discounted appointment did not yield satisfactory scan footage / photos.
Why choose First Encounters?
Here at First Encounters Ultrasound, we never run offers through websites like Groupon or Wowcher - all of our scan packages are priced as seen here
. However, we believe that we provide an experience that's far superior to any you'll get through those websites. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
- All of our scans are performed by qualified, experienced medical professionals.
- We only use certified safe equipment from GE Healthcare.
- Our appointment slots always include time for multiple scan attempts.
- We always offer a complimentary re-scan if satisfactory imagery cannot be obtained on your first scan date.
- Our reputation is second to none - just look at the reviews on our Facebook page!
As demand for 4D ultrasound scans increases, we're seeing more and more new people entering the field and offering to provide baby scan experiences at competitive prices. Sadly, the quality of the service provided varies hugely from one company to the next, and it's heartbreaking when expectant parents pay for a private scan and end up with low-grade images that are barely even worth sharing.
Here at First Encounters, we strive to deliver the best possible service to our customers. We firmly believe that we're head and shoulders above most scan providers operating in the UK today - here are 10 reasons why:
1. We are an approved and regulated scan provider.
First Encounters Ultrasound is registered with and approved by the Care Quality Commission. As a CQC-regulated provider, we ensure that you are cared for by qualified healthcare professionals (our sonographers) who are licensed to perform ultrasound scans using equipment that is certified safe for purpose.
2. We employ licensed sonographers who are qualified and experienced.
All of our sonographers are registered with the Health Professionals Council, the regulator for health professionals throughout the UK. In order to achieve HPC-registered status, one must meet the Council's standards for training, behaviour, health/hygiene, and professional skills. Many of the 4D ultrasound scan packages currently flooding the market are NOT carried out by registered healthcare professionals, which could mean that potential complications with your pregancy go undetected.
3. We use advanced GE Healthcare equipment with HDlive technology.
Our scans are carried out using the latest GE Voluson E6 ultrasound machines, with genuine HDlive technology. GE Healthcare are the #1 manufacturer for the baby scan sector and their equipment is championed by legitimate scan clinics across the globe - no other unit comes close to the standard of clarity that our machines produce (especially when it comes to 4D HDlive scans
4. Our equipment is certified safe for purpose.
Every piece of machinery we use to carry out our customers' baby scans is inspected, tested, and certified safe for purpose. Many scan providers, sadly, do not meet this standard, using uncertified and potentially unsafe equipment that puts both mother and baby at risk.
5. We are accomplished in both diagnostic and souvenir imaging.
Our sonographers specialise in diagnostic ultrasound scanning, meaning that they are qualified to carry out your souvenir scan AND assess the health and growth of your unborn child.
6. We provide printed pregnancy reports with every scan.
Everyone who undergoes a scan at one of our clinics also receives a First Encounters pregnancy report
. This is a detailed document containing all the information we gather during your scan, such as gestation age, estimated due date, various measurements, and the position of your baby inside the womb.
7. All of our employees are trusted, caring professionals.
We've already described the qualifications and accreditations that our sonographers hold, but just as important is the friendly, caring approach employed by everyone here at First Encounters, from our administrative staff to the sonographers themselves. We do everything we can to make each customer feel totally welcome and completely at ease when they come for their scan.
8. Our scans are carried out in a relaxed, spacious clinic environment.
As mentioned above, we're committed to ensuring that expectant parents feel relaxed and at ease in our clinics. Our clinics are comfortable and modern, with enough space to accommodate everyone who might attend. We also maintain very high standards of hygiene and safety within our clinics.
9. Children, family and friends are always welcome.
Each scanning room has space for up to 6 guests. You are more than welcome to bring anyone you wish, including friends, relatives, and even young children who are eager to say hello to the newest member of the family!
10. We offer a comprehensive and competitive range of scan packages.
Unlike many providers who simply offer a single 'one-size-fits-all' scan package, we have ten different packages to choose from. The best package for you will depend on the type of images you wish to capture, how far along you are, and the souvenirs
you want to take home after the scan. Click here
to compare the available options.
Still not convinced? Take a look at our Reviews
page, or look at what our customers have been saying about us on Facebook
If you've had a look at our Images & Videos
section, you may be wondering if the examples on that page really are representative of the quality and the clarity you'll see on the screen when you come in for a 4D scan of your own. Will we be able to depict your unborn baby with that same level of detail?
The short answer is yes, for the vast majority of scans we perform. However, 4D ultrasound scans are not an exact science, and with each and every pregnancy being so very different, the achievable results can vary for each client, thus making it very difficult to provide an airtight guarantee when it comes to the quality of the imagery we aim to capture during our 3D/4D scans. That said, we will always endeavour to obtain the very best result achievable, working with you to encourage your baby into the best possible position; however, whilst a change of position can, in most cases, be achieved with the aid of sugar stimulation, there are other factors that may affect image quality and resolution.
All ultrasound scans obtain images via the reflection of sound waves, which penetrate from the probe placed on your belly through to your baby and back again. The image then displayed is the result of this reflection. Whilst we at First Encounters Ultrasound use the latest, most advanced ultrasound technology (effectively enabling an element of image manipulation), image quality and resolution can unfortunately be impaired if the sound waves have more distance to travel, thus creating a weaker reflection and a lower-resolution image.
In some cases, a high BMI can lead to a less than perfect result; however, our own experience has also identified that, in cases of a high BMI, clearer images can be achieved when the scan is performed slightly later (between 29 and 30 weeks gestation). This is because the baby sometimes moves closer to the stomach wall, thus creating a shorter distance for the reflected sound waves to cover, resulting in a better image resolution.
The key points to remember when planning your 4D experience are as follows:
In order to achieve the best possible results, we always recommend between 25 and 29 weeks as the optimum time for a 3D/4D scan. However, in the event that your baby is uncooperative on the day, a complimentary rescan will be offered on an alternative day (where appropriate, and subject to terms and conditions).
- Your baby will require room for movement.
- Your baby will need to be surrounded by plenty of fluid to assist the projection of imagery
All of this being said, we'd like to say once again that unsatisfactory scans are very few and far between. The vast majority of women who come to us leave absolutely thrilled with the results of their 4D scan - if you'd like to book a scan of your own, please click here
to compare the packages we offer. Alternatively, if you have any other questions to ask, feel free to give us a call on 02920 732671
We get asked a lot of questions
here at First Encounters Ultrasound, but perhaps the most common query of all concerns the safety of the scans that we provide. Many expectant parents feel slightly apprehensive about the idea of undergoing an ultrasound scan for fear that it will have a detrimental effect on the mother and/or her unborn baby.
The good news is that, in 30 years of study and research, ultrasound has not been found to cause any harm whatsoever to mother or baby. As the name suggests, ultrasound technology relies on sound waves, which are perfectly safe at the intensity used for the purposes of pregnancy scanning.
Ultrasound scans are now the norm throughout the UK; even if you don't visit the First Encounters clinic for a private scan, you will likely undergo two NHS ultrasound scans over the course of your pregnancy to check on your baby's development.
But what about 4D scans?
Most of the parents who enquire about the safety of our scans are referring specifically to our 4D scan packages; that is, the scans that capture 3D footage like this:
A lot of people assume that 4D scans must use a higher intensity than standard 2D scans, if not a different type of technology altogether. Many of the parents-to-be that we encounter have already received one ultrasound scan by the time we speak to them, and even some of these people are concerned about the side effects of our 4D scanning equipment.
If you are harbouring any such concerns yourself, allow us to put your mind at ease: 4D ultrasound scans have been shown to be completely safe for both mother and baby. Our 4D probe operates at the same intensity as our 2D scanning equipment, emitting sound waves into the body and creating an image based on the echoes it hears. The technology actually has a lot in common with radar!
None of the ultrasound scans we offer have been shown to have any harmful effect on human beings, so when you and your unborn child pay us a visit, you can rest assured that our service is not putting either of you in any danger whatsoever.