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Drinking during pregnancy is a something of a grey area when it comes to prenatal health. There is no well-defined limit for expectant mothers to follow, and so it can be difficult to establish how much alcohol - if any - it's safe to consume while pregnant. While there are some guidelines to assist women in their decision, the final choice can only be decided by the individual, based on the facts provided by healthcare professionals:

Risks

  • Alcohol is able to rapidly reach your baby through the placenta, which can lead to miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.
  • Drinking can also damage the baby's cells, impacting the developing organs and facial features.
  • Another risk posed by alcohol is the development of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause a number of issues from learning difficulties to birth defects.
  • Foetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe of all alcohol-related disorders that can occur during pregnancy, causing babies to be born and remain small throughout their lives, often with facial defects. This can also effect muscle tone, coordination and behaviour, causing children to have learning and mobility difficulties throughout life.

Contributing Factors

  • Binge Drinking - This refers to a large number of units, consumed over a short space of time. Even if you maintain a largely alcohol-free pregnancy, the occasional heavy-drinking session can still prove to be extremely harmful to your baby. In fact, evidence has shown that babies of binge drinkers are more at risk of developing FAS than the children of drinkers who consumed the same amount of units over a longer period of time.

  • Drinking During the Last Trimester - This is the period when your baby is growing more and the brain is developing. For this reason, some experts have suggested that drinking during this period is related to learning difficulties and memory problems.

  • Drinking Early in Pregnancy - Experts advise mothers not to consume alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy, due to the fact that so little is known about the potential damage this could cause the developing foetus.

  • Heavy Drinking - Of all the factors, this is unsurprisingly the most damaging, due to the large amount of toxins being absorbed by mother and child. If you are a heavy drinker or have problems with alcohol, it is advised that you cut down before becoming pregnant, or seek help if you are already pregnant and are having trouble cutting down. 
While some experts suggest that it is acceptable to drink one to two units a week without impacting the health of your baby, there is too substantial a divide in opinion to provide a definitive answer as to whether or not light drinking is bad for your unborn child. In conclusion, it is safe to say that the best course of action is to avoid the consumption of alcohol altogether, as it is far simpler to remove the risk instead of wondering whether you are doing the right thing.

For more pregnancy advice and updates about our ultrasound scans, follow us on Twitter.
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.
Vacancies in Portishead and Cardiff Gate
First Encounters logo
Would you like to work for First Encounters? We are currently looking to recruit two part-time receptionists; one for our clinic in Portishead, and another for our Cardiff clinic.

This is a weekend role that has become available due to our ongoing expansion. To apply, please email your CV to warren@firstencounters.co.uk (please indicate whether you are applying to work in Portishead or Cardiff).

Job Requirements:

  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Good telephone manner
  • Computer-literate
If your application is successful, your duties will include:
  • Welcoming pre-booked clients
  • Booking and amending appointments
  • Taking payments
  • Answering the phone
  • Providing support to other team members to ensure the clinic's smooth running

About First Encounters

First Encounters Ultrasound is an established and fully-regulated baby scan clinic with locations in Bristol and Cardiff. We specialise in 3D/4D bonding experiences, which give expectant parents a detailed glimpse into their unborn baby's world. We also offer traditional 2D ultrasound scans for reassurance, dating, and gender confirmation (if requested).

Each of our clinics is staffed by a team of friendly and knowledgeable sonographers and administrative staff. We offer competitive pay and a comfortable, modern working environment. For further details about our service, call 02920 732671 or visit our website.
A winner will be chosen at random when our Facebook page reaches 2,000 likes!

We offer a wide variety of baby scan gifts here at First Encounters Ultrasound, but easily the most popular souvenir of all is our adorable Heartbeat Bear (your baby's heartbeat recorded onto a cuddly teddy bear).

Baby heartbeat bear
Cute, isn't he?

The photo above is taken from Family Days Tried & Tested, a family blog specialising in fun days out and activities for parents to enjoy with their children. The FDT&T family recently visited the First Encounters Clinic, where - thanks to our 4D ultrasound technology - they were introduced to the newest member of their clan:

4D baby scan

We're pleased to say that Mrs Family Days wrote an entire blog post about her First Encounters experience - click here to read her thoughts and see the photographs she took on the day.

But let's get back to that bear, because you could win one of your very own for absolutely nothing!

Win a Heartbeat Bear Experience Worth £45!

If you're pregnant and you'd like to have your unborn child's heartbeat recorded onto a cute cuddly toy, here's what to do:
  1. Like First Encounters on Facebook (our page is here).
  2. Share the page with your friends and get them to like it too!
  3. Once our page reaches 2,000 likes, we'll select one of those 2,000 people to win a Heartbeat Bear Experience!

What is a Heartbeat Bear Experience?

If you win the Hearbeat Bear Experience, you'll be invited to your nearest First Encounters clinic for a heartbeat scan. A probe will be placed on your belly and the sound of your baby's heartbeat will be recorded onto one of our teddy bears.


This bear will be yours to take home - the teddy makes a wonderful souvenir of your pregnancy, and we're certain that you'll hang onto it for years after the birth of your baby!

The prizewinner will also have the option to upgrade to a full ultrasound scan - this will be charged as normal, but will include a Heartbeat Bear free of charge.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to Facebook and enter our competition - you've got to be in it to win it!

Please note that the Heartbeat Bear Experience is available only if you are currently pregnant; our protocol prevents us from recording the heartbeat of a child who has already been born.
Our 3D/4D pregnancy scans are a popular choice among expectant parents because our 3D imaging technology gives them an extremely detailed idea of what their baby will look like when he or she arrives. This creates a bonding effect, helping mummy and daddy to feel that much closer to the little one that they'll soon be looking after.

We already offer a variety of souvenirs to enhance this bonding experience - our customers can take home photographic prints and DVD footage of their scans, as well as photo key rings and fridge magnets if they so choose. However, we will soon be offer another 3D scan souvenir that's streets ahead of everything else: 3D facial models!

3D baby face model

We are working in partnership with Wolfprint 3D to offer our customers detailed 3D models of their unborn baby's faces. We feel that this is very much the 'next generation' of ultrasound souvenir - not only do these facial models deliver a more detailed impression than ever before, they also make great keepsakes that parents can show their children once they're a bit older.

These amazing models are created by 3D printing the multi-layered image that's captured by our Voluson ultrasound machine. If you request a 3D facial model, we will send the volume file from your scan to Wolfprint 3D, who will then convert that file into a 3D printable format, print it out, and ship the resulting model to you from their headquarters in Europe.

Our 3D baby models will cost £149 for a small model and £159 for a large model. They will be available to any customer undergoing a 3D/4D ultrasound scan - click here to compare our scan packages, or give us a call on 02920 732671 to discuss the available options with a member of the First Encounters Ultrasound team.