Test: Routine Antenatal Care

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.

Routine tests

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.

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