First-time mums have at least 10 antenatal visits, second-timers can expect around seven. The tests provide you with information about the health of your baby but you don’t have to have them and where you live will play a part in what happens and when. If you’re feeling anxious or unsure, discuss things with your partner, midwife or GP before going ahead.
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- Screening tests assess the risk of an abnormality.
- A diagnostic test can tell you for certain if your baby has any abnormalities. You’ll be offered a diagnostic test if your screening indicates that your baby has a high risk of any chromosomal or other disorders.
Diagnostic tests do have a very small chance of miscarriage and they are not compulsory. Before you have the test, think very carefully about what you’d do if a serious problem were found.
Antenatal tests and checks
Your midwife will carry out routine checks – for instance, on your blood pressure and urine – and will calculate your due date. She will also take your medical history, and you may be offered a blood test.
This shows your baby’s heartbeat, checks your dates tally with your baby’s development, and lets you know if you are expecting more than one baby. Some areas offer you a nuchal translucency scan, which looks for Down’s syndrome.
Second antenatal appointment.
You will have the usual checks on your urine and blood pressure. If a blood sample wasn’t taken at your first appointment, your midwife will take this now.
A foetal anomaly scan is usually offered.
This is a detailed scan of your baby. The scan operator will look at your baby’s head, face, spine, limbs, heart and bladder. He or she may also be able to tell you the sex of your baby if you would like to know.
Routine appointment. The frequency of these depends on your area and if this is your first baby.
Earlier checks are repeated. In an increasing number of areas, women who have already had one baby, and are labelled ‘low risk’, will have just one check at around 26 weeks.
Routine appointment. Timing depends on the area and if this is your first baby.
Earlier checks will be repeated and, as anaemia is more common in later pregnancy, your midwife will take a blood test. If you are anaemic, the midwife may offer you iron supplements that are suitable for pregnant women.
Routine appointment. Depends on your area, and if this is your first child.
Routine checks such as blood pressure and urine tests are repeated, but if this is your second child, you may have checks less often.
Antenatal check with a hospital consultant.
If you’re overdue, the consultant will talk to you about having an induction if labour doesn’t start during the next few days.