What You Need to Know About Routine Blood Tests During Pregnancy

woman holding test tubes

What tests will I be offered?

As part of you antenatal care, you’ll be offered to take some routine blood tests during pregnancy. Some of these are optional and you can discuss with your doctor whether to take them or not. These results will help your healthcare provider to design your antenatal care according to your needs.

Blood group: Essential to know in case you need a transfusion during labour. You can be group O, A, B or AB.

Rhesus factor: If you’re Rh negative and the father is Rh positive, your baby can be Rh positive and it can put you at risk of developing antibodies that can attack your baby. To stop this, you’ll be screened regularly from 28 weeks onwards and given immunoglolulin if needed.

Genetic abnormalities: The most common option offered nowadays to test for genetic disorders, such as blood tests during pregnancy down’s syndrome is the combined test with a blood test and a nuchal translucency scan. This test is done at week 12. These tests are not 100% accurate but just indicators. If you need to know for certain you need to have a CVS or amniocentesis.

Haemoglobin levels: This is an indication of your iron levels, which show whether you’re anaemic. If your iron levels are low, you may be prescribed iron supplements to complement your diet.

Hepatitis B: Your doctor needs to check your immunity status for this disease as you may be a carrier with no symptoms and pass it on to your baby. In this case, his liver would be severely damaged. The Hepatitis B blood tests are offered during pregnancy first trimester

Rubella: Most likely you’ve either had this disease as a child or been immunised, so you should be immune. If you’re not immune, you’ll be advised to avoid contact with any potential cases as it can seriously affect your baby’s development if you catch while pregnant.

Syphilis: Not so prevalent these days, but it may affect your baby if you have this disease. In extreme cases, it may result in a stillbirth. If you’re tests come back positive you’ll receive antibiotic treatment which also protects your baby.

HIV/AIDS: If you find out that you have this disease, your doctor will prescribe specific treatments to avoid you transferring it on to your baby.

Sickle cell disease and thalassaemia: if you’re at risk, you may be offered tests to check for these conditions. Sickle cell disease is more common in people with African descent, while thalassaemia is more predominant in Asia, Southern Europe and Middle East.

Toxoplasmosis: You can request to have this test done, if you think you’ve been in contact with this disease for the first time during pregnancy. If you have or had a cat, most likely you’re already immune.

Group B strep: Another extra test you can request, usually at week 35 to 37. It can be serious to babies during birth, so if you tested positive, preventative measures will be taken to prevent that you don’t pass it on to your baby.

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