Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Antenatal Testing

Posted on: January 7, 2009

You will be offered regular appointments with your midwife or doctor (frequency of appointments is usually decided by clinical need); they will offer to:

  • monitor your blood pressure
  • analyse your urine
  • assess the baby by palpating (feeling) the size and position of the baby
  • listen to your baby’s heartbeat
  • question you for signs of any potential problems

You will also be offered the following blood tests:

Full Blood Count – Mainly to test for anaemia
Blood Group – In case you need a blood transfusion at the birth
Rhesus group and antibodies – To look for unusual antibodies in your blood/to screen for potential rhesus disease
Rubella antibodies – To check your immunity to rubella (German measles)
Syphilis – To check for syphilis which although very rare could be harmful to you and your baby if untreated
Hepatitis B – Testing for this infectious liver disease
H.I.V. – If you are HIV positive treatment can be offered to both you and your baby
Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia – These are genetic blood diseases, usually specific to certain populations (if you feel your ancestors may come from these areas it may be wise to be tested)

  • Parts of Africa (the region south of the Sahara Desert)
  • Spanish-speaking areas like South America, Cuba, and Central America
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy

Tay-Sachs – most commonly prevalent in Eastern European Jewish populations

Serum screening – This testing performed at around 16 weeks of pregnancy will give a risk factor (high or low) for your baby having Down’s syndrome and neural tube defects (spina bifida). You need to think carefully what you would do with the result. Further investigations such as detailed ultrasound scan or amniocentesis may be offered if you have a high risk result. Amniocentesis gives a definite result but incurs a small risk of causing miscarriage.

Usually repeat Blood Group and Full Blood Count testing will be offered later in pregnancy.

Ultrasound scans can be performed to:

  • date/confirm pregnancy
  • check physical structure of baby nuchal fold – checking for any anomalies in structure of the baby
  • assess fetal wellbeing, growth, liquor volume
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