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In this age of instant uploads and social media sharing, we realise that many of our customers wish to access and share their scan images quickly and efficiently via their mobile phones & laptops.

 
In order to give expectant parents both a physical keepsake and an easy-to-access digital copy of their scan images, we have decided to introduce a brand new photocloud service for First Encounters customers. This service allows you to access the scan images that come with your chosen package on your personal devices, enabling you to instantly view, download, and share your precious imagery. You can print and distribute your images from our photocloud™ however you like!
 
You will be able to access your scan images via photocloud™ for up to one month after the date of your scan, and we try to upload your images to the photocloud™ within one hour of your scan finishing. This service is available with selected scan packages at both our Cardiff and Bristol clinics.
 
Click here to browse our full range of scan packages, or if you've already had your scan with us - head over to the photocloud™ page and use your unique password to access your photos!
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We get asked all sorts of questions here at First Encounters. When is the best time to have a scan? Are 4D ultrasound scans safe? Should I find out the sex of my baby? These are all common queries; however, the most common question of all has nothing to do with how our scans work. Rather, it's related to the cost of our 4D ultrasound packages. 
 
Many people think that 3D/4D scans will be too expensive for them, but most are pleasantly surprised when they see our price list. Obviously, the exact cost depends on which package you select, but whether you want a no-frills 4D scan or the full baby bonding experience, we think you'll find our prices very reasonable indeed.
So how much does a First Encounters 4D ultrasound scan actually cost?
Anything from £99 to £169. Here's a quick list of the 4D packages we offer, with prices shown in brackets:
  • Classic4D&Growth™ (£99) - Includes full growthAssure™ report, plus 4 glossy colour photographs and a photo key ring. Gender confirmation optional.
  • Deluxe4D&Growth™ (£109) - Includes full growthAssure™ report, plus 5-minute video recording, 4 glossy colour photographs, and photo key ring. Gender confirmation optional.
  • Ultimate4D&Growth™ (£169) - Our top 4D ultrasound package offers everything an expectant parent could ask for, including 12 glossy colour photographs, a 10-minute MP4 scan video, all scan photos on a USB stick, a heartbeat teddy, 2 key rings, a photo magnet, and gender confirmation if requested.

4D footage is amazing if you want to bond with your baby. We were able to capture this adorable little baby smiling! 

Smiling 4D Scanning First Encounters Ultrasound - YouTube

As you can see, we offer a huge range of 4D ultrasound scans that are sure to suit whatever requirements and budget you have! Take a look at the full range of 2D and 4D scans we offer here by clicking the button below or give us a call on 02920 732671 to book your 4D scan today!

View All Scan Packages >

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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?
 
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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!

Browse Our Range of Scan Packages >

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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

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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:

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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 >

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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 >

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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.

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Getting the right amount of sleep or finding a way to fall to sleep can be a real struggle for any person, let alone if you’re an expecting mother. Methods that you may have used to help you get a better quality of sleep may no longer work now that you’re pregnant, so what are you to do now? Read on to find out the things you need to do and the things you need to avoid when it comes to sleeping whilst pregnant!

When you fall pregnant, your body experiences a number of changes, which tend to affect the way in which you sleep. These changes lead to several reasons to why you may start to feel discomfort, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Heartburn

The good news about sleeping while pregnant is that there is no need to change the way you sleep until you reach your second trimester. So, with these things in mind, we take a look at the most common sleeping positions throughout the course of a pregnancy.

Sleeping on your back

Between 15 and 20 weeks gestation, the uterus grows big enough to start interfering with the flow of blood when sleeping on your back. The uterus can begin to compress the inferior vena cava (IVC), as well as tightening the aorta, which blocks the main blood supply to your body and placenta. Therefore, sleeping on your back during this stage of your pregnancy can decrease the amount of blood returned to the heart, resulting in shortness of breath or an increased heart rate when waking up.

Sleeping on your stomach

During the early stages of pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach is fine, but there will come a time where you will have to turn over, usually when the bump begins to show around 16/18 weeks. Once your bump starts to show, sleeping on your stomach can become uncomfortable and also have safety implications, similar to sleeping flat on your back. Sleeping on your stomach can cause your bump to move inside the stomach and again press against the IVC and aorta.

Sleeping on your side

The best and most commonly used sleeping position among pregnant women is referred to as ‘SOS’, which stands for sleep on side. More specifically sleeping on your left side, as this will help increase the number of nutrients and blood that reach both the placenta and baby. Sleeping on your right side can also compress the IVC, however, using pillows to prop up the uterus to prevent it sliding to the right can be helpful. It is not uncommon to fall asleep on your left side and wake up in a completely different position, on your back for example. If this does happen, there’s no need to worry as you probably weren’t in that position for very long. If you lay on your back during your third trimester, your blood flow will become compressed which will cause you to feel uncomfortable quite quickly, making you wake up. If you continue to wake up in a position other than your left side, ask your partner to check on you and move you back to your left side.

For further information on how to sleep when pregnant, or if you are experiencing troubles sleeping, get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible. If you require a baby scan during any point of your pregnancy, be sure to browse from our range below!

Our Scan Packages >

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