At your first booking appointment your community midwife will discuss and offer you a range of screening tests. These screening tests offered are to help identify any health problems that you may have or that could affect your baby, and may include blood tests and ultrasound scans. You will have been given a booklet to help you understand the screening tests available (click here for more information). This information is available in 13 different languages, easy read and MP3 audio files. Further information is available on the NHS website.
Screening is optional and we understand choosing to have the screening tests is a personal choice - you do not have to accept any of the tests offered, however we would like you to understand the purpose of tests so you can make an informed choice. Please ask if you do not understand any of the information provided.
Some of the screening tests for Downs, Edwards and Patau syndrome, sickle cell disease and thalassaemia may lead to difficult decisions and choices of whether to have a diagnostic test. Some tests are invasive and on rare occasions may lead to a miscarriage. You may also need to decide whether you want to continue the pregnancy, depending on the risks described by the test results. Your midwife team or consultant can support you with this decision making.
Some of the screening tests can only be offered in early pregnancy.
You can find out more about the screening tests available by clicking the links below.
Diabetes in pregnancy
It is recommended that you have an early referral and frequent ante natal appointments to maximise your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. These appointments will be normally held in a hospital setting via a medical team.
Diabetic eye retinal screening
What is the test for?
To check for signs of diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems caused by diabetes and monitor the health of your eyes if you are pregnant and have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
You will not need diabetic eye screening if you did not have diabetes before pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is a condition which develops during pregnancy and leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose comes from carbohydrates for example bread, rice, potatoes. Insulin is a hormone that acts like a key to unlock cells to allow glucose to enter. Insulin helps to lower blood glucose levels and keep them in the normal range. During pregnancy your body needs more insulin than usual. This is because the placenta releases hormones which makes your body more resistant to insulin. This is not a problem for the majority of women however in some women they are not able to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance and therefore blood glucose levels rise to above normal levels.
What are the risk factors?
- Previous gestational diabetes
- Previous large baby over 4.5 kg
- Body mass index (BMI) over 30kg/m2
- Family history of diabetes
- Ethnicity - areas of higher prevalence of diabetes
- Glucose in your urine on more than one occasion
If you fall into one of the above categories you will be offered a glucose tolerance test. This involves attending for an appointment usually in a hospital setting between 24 - 28 weeks gestation.
It is recommended in England that all women are offered a minimum of two ultrasound scans during their pregnancy. You will be offered an early pregnancy scan, which is usually performed between eight weeks and 14 weeks + 1 day of pregnancy.
The purpose of the scan is to assess how many weeks' pregnant you are, how many babies you are having and to check on your baby's wellbeing.
Between 18+0 and 20+6 weeks pregnant you will be offered an anomaly scan.
The purpose of the anomaly scan is to look for any problems your baby may have (we may describe these as 'structural abnormalities').
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