Antenatal screening



During your pregnancy, you'll be offered a range of tests, including blood tests and ultrasound baby scans. These tests are designed to help make your pregnancy safer, check and assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby, and screen for particular conditions.


You don't have to have any of the tests. However, it's important to understand the purpose of all tests so that you can make an informed decision about whether to have them. Your midwife will discuss them with you.

Blood Pressure


Your blood pressure will be taken at every antenatal visit. A rise in blood pressure later in pregnancy could be a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension. It's very common for your blood pressure to be lower in the middle of your pregnancy than at other times. This isn't a problem, but it may make you feel lightheaded if you get up quickly. Talk to your midwife if you're concerned about it.


Weight and height


You will be weighed at your booking appointment, but you won't be weighed regularly during your pregnancy. Your height and weight are used to calculate your BMI (body mass index). Women who are overweight for their height are at increased risk of problems during pregnancy.


The current recommendation for weight gain in pregnancy, for a women with a normal BMI, is 11.5-16kg (25-35lb), most of it after they are 20 weeks pregnant. Much of the extra weight is due to the baby growing, but your body also stores fat for making breast milk after the birth. During your pregnancy, it's important to eat the right foods and do regular exercise.



You'll be asked to give a urine sample at your antenatal appointments. Your urine is checked for several things, including protein or glucose. If this is found in your urine, it may mean that you have an infection that needs to be treated. It may also be a sign of pre-eclampsia.  Is you regularly spill glucose into your urine then your midwife will discuss screening you for gestational diabetes, this is normally done around 28 weeks. 

Antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities


During your pregnancy, you will be advised of screening for a number of conditions that may affect you or your baby. This screening includes a blood test from you and measurements of your baby taken from an ultrasound scan, or a blood test from you only. 


Screening can be done up until you are 20 weeks pregnant.


All pregnant women are advised of screening to assess the chance of their baby having one of the screened conditions. These conditions can delay the baby's learning and physical development.


Depending on the screening results, some pregnant women are offered diagnostic tests to confirm if their baby has a condition. Some, but not all, conditions that may affect you and your baby can be detected during pregnancy.


Screening and testing are your decisions. Choosing whether to have this screening is an important decision. You need to have enough information to make the decision that is right for you. Some women will want to know if their baby has one of the conditions being screened for before the baby is born. Other women will decide not to have this screening.


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Blood tests


As part of your antenatal care you'll be offered several blood tests. All the tests are done to make your pregnancy safer or to check that the baby is healthy, but you don't have to have them if you don't want to.  Talk to your midwife and give yourself enough time to make your decision. They will also give you written information about the tests.


At present, your first antenatal blood tests include; blood group, full blood count and antibodies.  The following infections:- Rubella, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C and HIV (this is optional) are also included in this screening.


You can still catch all these infections during pregnancy after you've had a negative test result. This includes sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B if you or your sexual partner take risks, such as having unprotected sex. You can also get HIV and hepatitis if you inject drugs and share needles. Your midwife or doctor can discuss this with you.