For many women, the ultrasound scan is a stand-out moment of pregnancy, providing the mother with the very first glimpses of their new addition in the making.

It’s an exciting time for mothers-to-be but can also be a daunting prospect for those experiencing first-time pregnancies.

To help put your mind at ease and prepare you for what to expect, here’s a handy overview of a typical baby scan schedule during pregnancy.

8 to 14-week scan

Also known as a dating scan, the first scan of your baby is carried out between week 8 and week 14 of the pregnancy.

This will typically take place at your local hospital in the ultrasound department, performed by a trained sonographer. The scan itself usually lasts around 30 minutes or less.

During the scan process, a number of key facts are identified, including the due date and confirmation of twins, triplets, etc.

If your dating scan takes place between weeks 11 and 13, the sonographer will also commonly perform the first part of the combined test to screen for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes.

This is called the nuchal translucent scan (NT scan) and involves largely the same processes as the standard dating scan.

18 to 20-week scan

Despite being commonly referred to as a “20-week scan”, the second scan can actually take place anywhere between 18 and 20 weeks.

It’s also known as a mid-pregnancy scan due to the fact that it takes place right in the middle of the average length of pregnancy (40 weeks).

Another name for the 20-week scan is an anomaly scan, as the primary purpose of this screening is to ensure your baby is developing as it should be.

32-week scan

Sometimes, the positioning of the placenta at 20 weeks can make it difficult for the sonographer to take accurate measurements of your baby’s development. This is typically due to the placenta overlapping the cervix.

If this is the case, you’ll be booked in for a follow-up scan at 32 weeks. By this time the placenta should have naturally moved out of the way, allowing for an unobstructed scan to take place.

42-week scan

By the time you reach the 42-week mark, you will have likely reached the end of your pregnancy and, hopefully, have a healthy new-born baby on your hands.

However, in the event that you haven’t gone in to labour by this point and have opted against induction, you will be offered regular monitoring.

This will involve additional ultrasound scans to check everything is okay within the womb and ensure no issues have developed.

Baby scans with First Encounters

Outside of the standard baby scan schedule routinely carried out by the NHS, First Encounters offers expecting parents the ultimate peace of mind with our own specialist scans over the course of your pregnancy.

Providing advanced details, reassuring facts and general progress updates of your baby’s development through pregnancy, these scans can be scheduled at any point throughout the pregnancy, from 8 weeks all the way up to full-term.

Reassurance Scans

Offering additional information for those looking to put their mind at rest, our Reassurance Scans are specifically designed to provide you with real-time facts and details about your baby prior to and outside of NHS appointments. 

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Gender Scans

For the ultimate gender reveal experience, First Encounters provides you with everything you need for your gender revelation plans, including a comprehensive scan as well as gender reveal props, should you wish to find out the sex at a later date in private. This gender identification service is available as early as 16 weeks.

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4D Bonding & Reassurance Scans

Available as early as 18 weeks, our 4D scans offer a truly awe-inspiring glimpse at your growing baby using state of the art technology, providing 3D imagery, video footage and real-life audio of your baby in the womb.

Classic4D&Growth >   Deluxe4D&Growth >   Ultimate4D&Growth >

When to Scan with First Encounters?

Naturally, if you opted for every scan available, your baby scan schedule would likely take up the majority of your pregnancy, not to mention the fact you would also be re-covering old ground unnecessarily.

As such, wisely choosing your First Encounters scans to complement your NHS appointments can be a sensible and enjoyable way to safely monitor your baby’s progression and experience your pregnancy to its fullest.

You may want to opt for an earlyAssure scan to put your mind at rest in the early stages of pregnancy and then return to First Encounters later on for a 4D scan to commemorate the occasion.

Meanwhile, you may wish to opt for the secretGender package to set up your own gender reveal party with friends and family on your own time.

Whichever option you choose, you won’t be disappointed. First Encounters offers a service unlike any other, combining specialist monitoring and professional service for unrivalled peace of mind and pregnancy commemoration.

For more information on our services or expert advice on which option is best for you, call today on 02920 732671 or get in touch online using the enquiry below.

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 During pregnancy, mothers-to-be can experience a lot of concerns and worries surrounding a number of things, whether it’s to do with their mood, health or what they can and can’t do. One thing that almost every expectant mother thinks about at some point before or throughout their pregnancy, however, is their weight. How much will they gain while pregnant? How will their post-baby body look? Can their pregnancy weight be easily lost? All of these questions are perfectly fair to ask, but it should be made clear that every pregnant woman gains weight differently and the amount of weight gained is dependent on several factors. So, if you find yourself asking ‘how much weight should I gain during pregnancy?’ There’s a number of things you need to know to have a clearer idea of what to expect.

As all pregnant women have different bodies, there are no clear guidelines or measurements on how much weight you should gain. The main thing all pregnant women should aim for is to keep a healthy and safe weight for themselves and their baby. Only some of the weight gained during pregnancy is due to an increase in body fat, with a number of other things contributing to overall weight gain. These include:

  • The placenta
  • Fluid retention
  • Amniotic fluid
  • The baby
  • Increased levels of blood

Average weight gain during pregnancy

Commonly, women will gain between 10-12.5kg (22-26lbs) during their pregnancy. This number, however, is dependent on how much a woman weighs before they get pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, these are the weights that women with a specific BMI (Body Mass Index) can expect to normally gain:

  • Underweight with a BMI < 18.5 – recommended to gain between 13-18kg (28-49 lbs)
  • Normal weight with a BMI 18.5-24.9 – recommended to gain between 11-16kg (25-35lbs)
  • Overweight with a BMI 25-29.9 – recommended to gain between 7-11kg (15-25 lbs)
  • Obese with a BMI 30 > - recommended to gain 5-9kg (11-20 lbs)

As these are only recommendations, do not get overly concerned. Your doctor and midwife will be able to provide information and assurance about what is right for you. If you are within the under or overweight category, it is essential that you seek extra support and care during your pregnancy.

Managing weight while pregnant

If you are a woman that has always had an active lifestyle, there are no problems with continuing throughout your pregnancy. However, if you are not an active person, taking part in gentle exercise for 15 minutes a day, three times a week slowly building to 30 minutes, will be sufficient to manage your weight. It’s important to remember that your goals aren’t to get as fit as possible, you are merely trying to stay physically active, so you do not have to worry about partaking in particularly strenuous activities. For many, physical exercise may seem unappealing. If this is the case for you, there are still plenty of things that you can do to keep your weight down. For example, avoid sitting down for prolonged periods of time. Attempt to walk and stand as much as possible – take the stairs rather than an elevator or get off at an earlier bus stop.

Your diet will also have an impact on the amount of weight that you gain. Therefore, it is important to try to eat well and healthy and not always think that ‘you’re eating for two’. The key is to make small gradual changes to improve your activity levels and diet – again, do not hesitate to ask your doctor or midwife for help and advice.

Complications

If you are either underweight or overweight during your pregnancy, you run the risk of experience a number of complications that can affect the health of both yourself and your baby. According to the NHS, gaining too much weight can result in blood pressure increases as well as the following:

  • Gestational diabetes – This is caused by increased levels of glucose in the blood, which increases the chances of having a large baby.
  • Pre-eclampsia – This is caused by increased blood pressure, in most cases, this is mild and results in no trouble but it can have the potential to be serious.

We hope this blog has answered your questions regarding weight gain during pregnancy! While here, why not browse our range of scan packages!? From 2D for 4D baby scans, take a glimpse at what your bundle of joy is going to look like with the help of First Encounters!

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When it comes to pregnancy, many questions are asked about what you can and can’t have, especially when it comes to food and drink. Women and men alike suddenly find themselves reading labels anxiously, as well as googling ingredients and recipes that do good to pregnant women rather than harm. While some of the rules that come with pregnancy are black and white, many aren’t and are solely dependent on who you ask. One of the most popular questions asked, however, is concerned with coffee intake. Can pregnant women drink coffee? How much caffeine can you have while pregnant? Is too much caffeine bad? So, let’s find out!

How much caffeine is in coffee?

With increased levels of fatigue experienced by many pregnant women, coffee may always seem like the easy go-to in order to keep energy levels up, whether it’s to complete day-to-day tasks or manage other children and toddlers. But is it okay to do so? Well, the simple answer is yes, but in small daily amounts. Caffeine crosses the placenta and has been associated with low birth weights, therefore experts recommend that pregnant women take in no more than 200mg daily, approximately 2 cups of coffee. However, it is very important to note that not all coffee is caffeinated in equal measures. Caffeine content varies on the method of production and type. Drip coffee contains the highest levels (approximately 140-240mg per 240ml/8 oz) followed by brewed and then instant. So, as a general guideline, mothers-to-be can have two smalls cups of brewed coffee a day, but it is important to note other sources of caffeine such as fizzy/energy drinks and chocolate.

Reducing caffeine intake

If you are conscious about the levels of caffeine that you consume and want to lower these, or if you think you’ve hit your daily amount and are in search for an alternative to help satisfy your cravings, try these:

  • Drink water/fruit juice
  • Try herbal tea
  • Go decaf!

These may not be the coffee that you know and love, but they will definitely go a long way when cravings start to kick in while giving you peace of mind that you are doing no harm to you or your baby!

For further information on what’s safe to eat or drink while pregnant, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife – for further advice on pregnancy cravings and how to curb them, click below!

Pregnancy Cravings Advice >

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.

Are you trying to decide how and when to announce your pregnancy? Many women want to tell the whole world right away, but sharing your news on social media can make your nearest and dearest feel part of the masses and somewhat unimportant. Planning a unique, intimate pregnancy announcement is without a doubt the best way to share your special news!

When is the best time to announce a pregnancy?

No one can tell you when to announce your pregnancy, that decision is entirely up to you. Tell people when you feel comfortable and ready to. But, understanding how long other women wait to make their announcement, and why, might help you decide when the perfect time to make your announcement is.

When to tell your partner that you’re pregnant?

A lot of women are torn between telling their partner the minute they find out and waiting to reveal it in a more special way. We think that this is a decision best made according to your partner. After all, you know them better than we do.

Will they be upset if you don’t tell them right away? Or will they be happy that you took some time to plan something a little more special? However long you wait, your partner is sure to be overjoyed!

When to tell your family and friends?

Many women feel it’s better to wait until at least 12 weeks into their pregnancy before telling their family and friends because this is the point at which the likelihood of miscarriage dramatically reduces.

Alternatively, some mums will wait at least 16 weeks so that they can also reveal the gender of the baby (although you might start struggling to conceal your bump at this point!) If this sounds like the perfect time for you to reveal your pregnancy, why not book one of our simplyGender scans? Available from 16 to 26 weeks.

 

Pregnancy Announcement Ideas:

If you’re feeling creative then there are endless ways to announce your pregnancy. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Use your scan photos – A lovely way to reveal your pregnancy is to have some scan pictures pre-prepared for family and friends to look at, these first glimpses of the baby (or babies) are incredibly precious. Tuck your scan photos inside a card and enjoy the moment of delight and surprise when they open the card to reveal your surprise! 

If you want to reveal your pregnancy this way, but you can’t wait until your first NHS scan, why not book an earlyAssure scan? Available from as early as 8 weeks, you’ll take home 2 glossy black and white photographs to share with your loved ones.

  • Matching T-Shirts – why not host a pregnancy announcement party, and turn up in matching Mummy and Daddy t-shirts. The look on your family and friends’ faces will be priceless!
  • Get your pets involved – there are a lot of ways you can involve your furry friends in your pregnancy announcement. You can hold a photoshoot, dress them up, or have them jump up on you when you ask them where the baby is… (with a little bit of training.)
  • Write a personal message – handwritten messages are special enough nowadays, but writing one to tell someone special that your pregnant is sure to bring a tear to their eye.
  • Do a photoshoot with your other children – like the picture above, if you already have children you can stage a photoshoot letting your family and friends know that they’re being promoted to big brother/sister.

Whenever and however you decide to announce your pregnancy, we’re sure it’ll be a truly magical moment. Later in your pregnancy, you can get all your family and friends together again to meet your baby in 4D with one of First Encounter’s amazing 4D Ultrasound scans. We love the Deluxe4D scan, take a look and book yours now.