You will be offered several tests during your pregnancy to check for any health conditions that may affect you or your baby. These include blood tests and ultrasound baby scans.
These tests are designed to:
- Make your pregnancy safer
- Check and assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby
- Screen for particular conditions
It is your decision whether you choose to have any of these tests. But it’s important to make sure that you understand the reason for each test so that you can make an informed decision that you feel is right for you and your baby.
Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia
During the first 10 weeks of your pregnancy, you will be offered a blood test for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia . These are serious blood conditions that can be passed from parents to the baby.
If these conditions are found early in your pregnancy, then you can be offered treatment for you and your baby.
Syphilis, Hepatitis B and HIV
Between 8-12 weeks, your midwife will offer you a blood test for three infectious diseases: Syphilis, Hepatitis B and HIV. You can choose which tests you want to have. These are serious infections, which can be passed onto your baby.
The blood test should be carried out before you are 10 weeks pregnant, so any treatment can be started to help reduce the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
More information about this test can be found on NHS.uk
This short animation from Public Health England shows the screening tests offered during pregnancy and after your baby has been born.
Ultrasound scans are carried out by a sonographer who will place a gel on your stomach before carrying out the scan. The sonographer will often be quiet whilst they perform the scan, as they will need to concentrate on the screen and make sure they have completed the measurements accurately.
This is a combined blood test and ultrasound scan offered to you when you are between 10 and 14 weeks pregnant. You can find out whether your baby has a higher or lower chance of having Down’s Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome or Patau Syndrome. It is rare for your baby to have one of these conditions.
It's important to be aware that you may face difficult decisions about whether to continue with a pregnancy depending on the health of your baby.
At the same time, there are a range of perspectives to be considered when thinking about genetic difference. Click here to view 'Positive about Down's Syndrome' charity website.
Some parents do not want to find out about genetic conditions before birth , and others want to know early about genetic conditions so they can learn and prepare.
Watch this video to find out more.
You can find out more about genetic screening from Public Health England
This scan of your baby is offered when you are between 18 weeks and 21 weeks pregnant. The sonographer will look for problems with your baby’s heart, bones, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys, and abdomen (stomach). The scan produces a black and white image which gives a side view of your baby.
If there is a high chance that your baby has a problem, then you will be offered another test.
More information about this ultrasound scan can be found on NHS.uk
It is recommended that you have the seasonal flu vaccine and the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy to protect the health of both you and your baby. Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from flu than those who are not pregnant.
The whooping cough vaccine is offered to women when they are between 16-32 weeks pregnant.
If you need more information about vaccinations, then speak to your GP or midwife.