Antenatal appointments are regular appointments you have when you’re pregnant to check you’re well physically and mentally, and your baby is healthy and developing well.
They allow your midwife or doctor to pick up any potential problems and treat them early.
- provide a great opportunity for you to ask questions or to talk about anything you’re worried about
- give you and your maternity carer a chance to talk through your pregnancy care, including things like whether you want any screening tests, and where you want to deliver your baby.
In a normal pregnancy, you’ll have antenatal appointments with your midwife or doctor:
- every four to six weeks until you’re around 28 weeks pregnant.
- every two weeks after that until the end of your 36th week
- weekly from 36 weeks.
You can take your partner or another support person with you.
About pregnancy screening tests
It’s your choice whether you have screening tests, including blood tests, urine tests, and ultrasounds.
Screening tests can tell you whether you or your baby are more likely to have a medical condition. Some medical conditions can make you and your baby very sick, and others can affect how your baby grows and learns.
If screening shows that you or your baby may have a condition, you’ll be offered further tests that will let you know for certain.
Screening is your choice – your midwife (or specialist doctor) will give you information and support to help you to decide whether to have screening or not. Talk to them about what’s right for you and your baby.
About screening tests
Pregnancy blood tests
After you have a positive home pregnancy test, your pregnancy will be confirmed by a blood test.
When you first see your midwife or doctor you’ll be offered more blood tests. These tests are all done from one blood sample, and check:
- your blood type and rhesus factor. If you have the rhesus protein on your red blood cells, you are rhesus positive. If you don’t have the rhesus protein on your red blood cells, you’re rhesus negative, and this can occasionally cause problems in pregnancy.
- your haemoglobin (the amount of iron in your blood)
- if there are any antibodies that might be harmful to your baby
- if you’re immune to rubella
- if you’re a hepatitis B carrier
- if you have HIV or syphilis
- if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of developing diabetes.
Blood tests in pregnancy
Other routine tests
Through pregnancy you’ll have other tests to check you’re healthy and that the baby is growing as expected.
You’ll have regular checks of:
- your blood pressure
- your weight
- the size of your baby bump
- the baby’s heartbeat.
Ultrasound scans are offered during pregnancy for a variety of reasons, including to determine your due date, whether you’re expecting more than one baby, and to check they’re developing normally. Later in pregnancy, scans may be offered for other reasons – to monitor the baby’s growth or the position of the placenta, for example.
Most women have at least one ultrasound during pregnancy.
The most common scans are:
- Dating scan – this happens in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy to check when your baby is due, and whether there’s one baby, or more!
- Neuchal translucency scan – this is part of the combined screening for Down syndrome and other conditions, and must be done between 11 weeks two days and 13 weeks six days.
- Anatomy scan – this happens around 18-20 weeks, and checks your baby is growing as expected, and for any problems. This scan can tell you what sex your baby is, if you choose to ask.
- Growth scans – these most often happen in the third trimester if your midwife or doctor is concerned about your baby’s growth.
Pregnancy screening for Down syndrome and other conditions