All your pregnancy scans and tests explained

There’s a lot going on inside that bump! Here’s how and when your midwife will make sure everything’s going OK

1 of

Ad break

  • Weeks 6-10 - An early scan

    Who has it?

    Women who’ve experienced bleeding, some types of fertility treatment, previous ectopic pregnancy, or recurrent miscarriages.

    What’s it for?

    This scan is to confirm that your pregnancy is proceeding and that your baby has a heartbeat, as well as how many babies there are.

    If the pregnancy is very early the scan might be done vaginally using a probe. It may feel a little bit uncomfortable, but chances are you’ll be distracted by the images on the screen.

    Cost

    Free if your midwife or GP refers you.

  • Week 10 - Blood and urine tests

    Who has them?

    All pregnant women.

    What are they for?

    Blood tests check iron levels, blood group, antibodies and Rhesus status (most women are Rhesus positive) and if you’re immune to rubella. You’ll be screened for hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV too, unless you decline this.

    At each visit from now on you’ll be asked to give a urine sample to check for pre-eclampsia (this doesn’t occur before 20 weeks) and bladder infections. Some areas also check the urine for sugar in case of gestational diabetes, and advise screening for chlamydia.

    Cost

    Free.

  • Weeks 11-13 - Nuchal translucency test

    Who has it?

    All women should be offered it, but some units don’t.

    What’s it for?

    Nuchal Translucency is a collection of fluid behind a baby’s neck and many babies with Down’s syndrome have an increased amount. This scan measures the ‘nuchal fold’ and assesses the risk of Down’s to help you decide whether or not to go for a test such as amniocentesis (see week 16) or CVS (see next test).

    This is a ‘screening’ test, not one that gives a full diagnosis. Instead, you’ll be told a ‘risk factor’ such as 1:1250. It’s non-invasive, so there’s no risk to you or your baby. The test is 75% reliable (90% if combined with a blood test).

    Cost

    If your unit doesn’t offer this then you can pay to have it done privately for £100 to £150.

  • Weeks 11-13 - Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

    Who has it?

    Women with a high-risk result from the nuchal scan. Those with a child who has a genetic condition often opt for it too.

    What’s it for?

    CVS is used to determine if your baby has a genetic condition such as Down’s syndrome. After a local anaesthetic, either a needle will be inserted into your abdomen, or a tube inserted into your vagina, to retrieve a small amount of tissue from the placenta. Results can take up to two weeks, but they’re highly accurate. However, this test does carry a one per cent risk of miscarriage.

    Cost

    Around £400

  • Continue slideshow >

  • Week 12 - Dating ultrasound scan

    Who has it?

    All women who haven’t had a nuchal scan.

    What’s it for?

    Your first real chance to get concrete ‘proof’ of your pregnancy and check if it’s a multiple pregnancy. Done at your local hospital, the scan checks your baby’s heartbeat, size, shape and position, and provides confirmation of your due date.

    Cost

    Free.

  • Week 16 – Amniocentesis

    Who has it?

    The criteria tends to be the same as for CVS, the difference being that you’ve missed the 11-13 week window for CVS.

    Women in their late 30s or 40s when the risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome increases, or who have a family history of genetic conditions, might also consider it.

    What’s it for?

    It’s a highly accurate test that shows whether your baby has a chromosomal disorder or genetic condition such as cystic fibrosis. Like the CVS, it carries a small risk of miscarriage.

    During the test, a fluid sample is taken from the amniotic sac and tested for abnormalities. It takes around two weeks to get the results.

    Cost

    Free. A private test (Amnio-PCR) can give results in 48 hours but costs around £90.

  • Weeks 15-18 - The double or triple test

    AKA the Leeds test or Bart’s test

    Who has it?

    Women who don’t have the nuchal scan.

    What’s it for?

    Your midwife will do a blood test to detect various hormones and ‘markers’ which can indicate foetal abnormalities and estimate the chances of your baby having a condition such as Down’s syndrome, spina bifida or anencephaly. If you’re deemed high risk then you’ll be offered further tests or a detailed scan.

    Cost

    Free.

  • Week 20 - Anomaly ultrasound scan

    Who has it?

    Most pregnant women will be offered this scan on the NHS.

    What’s it for?

    Your 20-week scan is the most detailed of all, and is a full ‘check up’ for your baby’s health and development, from revealing the sex (if you want to know) to looking at the shape of the head, spine and vertebrae, hands, feet and all the major organs. The placenta, umbilical cord and the amniotic fluid will also be examined.

    About 50% of all major abnormalities will be detected by this scan. Certain measurements will be taken, such as the circumference of your baby’s head, abdomen and thighbone. Best of all, you’ll have a picture to show off!

    Cost

    The test is free but you may be charged for the picture (around £2 to £4) Special 4D scans can cost around £150.

  • Continue slideshow >

  • Week 28 - Blood tests

    Who has them?

    All pregnant women.

    What are they for?

    The birth’s getting closer so it’s important to recheck your iron level to ensure you’re not anaemic. You’ll also be advised to be retested for HIV and for antibodies. Your blood can develop antibodies during your pregnancy and high levels can affect your baby, causing problems such as severe jaundice when he is born. This can be treated, so it’s important that it’s detected as early as possible. If you’re Rhesus negative, you’ll be given a shot of Anti-D.

    Cost

    Free.

  • Week 32 - Ultrasound scan

    Who has it?

    Women with a low-lying placenta.

    What’s it for?

    To check that the placenta has moved away from the cervix as the uterus has grown. If a low-lying placenta was picked up at your 20-week scan, don’t worry, as the majority will move away from the cervix. If it covers any part of the cervix, and stays that way, you may need a caesarean.

    Cost

    Free.

  • And finally…

    Your midwife will keep a fortnightly check on you from week 34. She’ll measure the size of your bump, as well as check your blood pressure and urine. At 36 weeks she’ll check that your baby’s head is positioned downwards and help you if it’s not.

    Mum's Story

    “I was only 8 weeks pregnant and desperate for my pregnancy to feel ‘real’, as well as to check that everything was going according to plan. Luckily, a doctor friend of mine managed to sneak me into his hospital for an early scan. When my husband and I saw the heartbeat and our cashew nut-shaped baby, we were relieved and very excited.”

    Emily Murray, 31, from London, 12 weeks pregnant

Last updated on 10 April 2014

Comments

Daily deals from top retailers