Congratulations … YOUR PREGNANT.
As soon as you find out you are pregnant contact your GP to schedule your first appointment. This is usually midwife at around 8 weeks from your last period. In the meantime, if you do experience any bleeding, abdominal pain or vomiting please contact your GP immediately as you may need to be seen earlier than arranged.
You may wish to speak with your GP sooner if you are taking any other medications that you feel could be harmful to the baby.
Your first visit is usually the longest, the midwife usually takes a urine and blood sample and asks lots of questions about family history. The questions about family history are usually about immediate family.
What are screening tests?
Screening tests will be offered during pregnancy. These are carried out to try to find any health problems that could affect you or your baby, such as Down’s syndrome, or physical abnormalities, the screening helps ensure that the correct care is put in place to help mummy and baby.
During pregnancy the tests carried out to check the baby are either via ultrasound scans which pick up physical abnormalities, such as spina bifida or a cleft lip or via blood tests which can help detect the risk of inherited disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and downs syndrome.
What are the risks involved?
Screening tests in pregnancy can mean that you and your partner are faced with difficult decisions. For example, if your bloods come back and the chances of down’s syndrome is high this could lead to a difficult decision about whether to have a diagnostic test that carries a possible risk of miscarriage. If you decided to go ahead with the diagnostic test, you could then be faced with another difficult decision if the results are positive. You will be asked to decide if you want to continue with your pregnancy or not.
When will I be offered different screenings?
Different screening tests are offered at different times during pregnancy.
The blood test for hereditary diseases like sickle cell anaemia should be offered before 10 weeks.
You will be offered screening for Down’s syndrome around the time of your dating scan, which happens when you are around 11 to 14 weeks pregnant.
You will be offered screening for abnormalities at a mid-pregnancy scan when you are around 18-21 weeks pregnant.
Although the NHS recommend certain tests you must remember that it is completely your choice whether or not you take the screening tests.