Antenatal care is essential to make sure that a pregnancy is progressing well. The table lists tests that may be offered to a woman during pregnancy. However, the precise tests offered will depend on the individual woman’s situation. Antenatal genetic tests may also be carried out to look for a gene or chromosome disorder in the fetus.
Antenatal care usually starts at about 10 weeks into the pregnancy. Follow-up visits to check progress of the pregnancy then occur at regular intervals until delivery.
|When done||Type of test||Reason for test|
|First visits (before 12 weeks)||Medical history and examination||To look for pre-existing risk factors, such as long-term illnesses|
|Urine tests||To check the urine for glucose, which may indicate diabetes developing in pregnancy, and for protein, which may indicate pre-existing kidney disease|
|Blood tests||To determine the woman’s blood type, and to check for anaemia; antibodies to rubella; hepatitis B virus (see Acute hepatitis); Down’s syndrome; sickle-cell disease; thalassaemia; and, after discussion, HIV infection. Genetic counselling may be offered to couples with a family history of inherited disease or from ethnic groups at high risk|
|Weight and blood pressure||To provide initial measurements against which later ones can be compared|
|Between 12 and 20 weeks||Ultrasound scans (one or more)||To check the age of the fetus and look for fetal abnormalities (see Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy)|
|Follow-up visits at regular intervals from 12 weeks to delivery||Weight (not routine in women of normal weight) and abdominal examination||To assess the growth of the fetus and determine which way it is lying in the uterus|
|Urine tests||To detect diabetes mellitus, pre-eclampsia, and urine infection|
|Blood pressure||To detect developing pre-eclampsia|
|Blood tests (at some visits only)||To look for anaemia and, in combination with ultrasound scanning, to assess the risk of fetal abnormalities, such as neural tube defects or Down’s syndrome. A test to screen for diabetes mellitus in the mother may also be necessary|
|Fetal heartbeat check||To assess whether the fetus’s heart is beating normally|
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.