Scans, Screening Tests and Check-Ups

NI Direct

Once you've discovered that you are pregnant, it's important to get health advice to help make your pregnancy as safe and comfortable as possible.

Regular check-ups

Routine tests, scans and check-ups are usually carried out or organised by your midwife or doctor and will continue throughout the pregnancy.

These check-ups include:

  • taking your blood pressure
  • checking your urine for infections and blood sugar problems
  • checking your general well-being
  • feeling your tummy (to check your baby's size and position)
  • listening to your baby's heartbeat

Blood tests

During pregnancy you will be offered a number of blood tests that provide information that helps you deliver a healthy baby.

Don't be afraid to ask questions about the tests you are offered, what they will and will not tell you and what further decisions you may have to make may depend on the results.

Discuss any concerns you have with your midwife or doctor and feel free to take time to consider your options.

Tests offered and recommended include, having your blood group and type identified to see whether you are rhesus negative or positive as well as for:

  • anaemia
  • rubella (German measles)
  • syphilis
  • hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • conditions such as sickle cell disease if indicated

Ultrasound scans

An ultrasound scan involves having a hand-held scanning device rolled over your stomach. This allows images from inside your womb to be shown on a screen.

These may be used to:

  • determine the size and when the baby is due
  • check for physical problems in the baby or placenta
  • determine whether you are expecting more than one baby
  • check the position of the baby and placenta

You should be offered a scan at:

  • about eight to 13 weeks
  • about 18 to 20 weeks

Vitamin D supplement

Although many people get enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, some people needs more and should take a vitamin d supplement. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need extra vitamin D.

This is because babies who don’t get enough vitamin D before they are born, can be at risk of developing rickets which causes weak and badly formed bones.

The recommendation is for all pregnant and breastfeeding women to take a 10mg tablet every day

Flu vaccine

You should get the flu vaccine to protect you and your baby.

Whooping cough (Pertussis) vaccine

Whooping cough is a serious disease that causes long bouts of coughing and choking, making it hard for a baby to breathe. The ‘whoop’ noise is caused by gasping for breath after each bout of coughing.

Young babies are most at risk from whooping cough. For these babies, the disease is very serious and can lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage. In the worst cases, it can cause death.

If you have the whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy, it will provide antibodies that will be passed to your baby so they have some protection in the first few weeks of life when whooping cough is most serious.

You can help protect your unborn baby from getting whooping cough in the weeks after birth (and before the baby is old enough to have their first whooping cough vaccination at two months) by having the whooping cough vaccination while you are pregnant.

Even if you’ve been vaccinated before or have had whooping cough yourself, you still need to get this vaccine.

You will be given a vaccine that also protects against:

  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • polio

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