My pregnancy tests and visits

No two pregnancies are the same, but all pregnancies have a foundation of recommended tests and visits, aimed to ensure all is healthy and to detect and treat complications such as diabetes or high blood pressure or a small baby early.

What can you expect in a ‘routine’ pregnancy? On average 8-10 visits with your pregnancy caregiver, starting late in the first trimester. You will also have, on average, have 2-3 blood tests, 1-2 ultrasounds, and a swab test. If you go overdue, you will also have monitoring to ensure the pregnancy remains healthy.

Key visits occur at 12-14 weeks, ‘booking in’ where a full history of your health and pregnancy is taken and all results compiled, 21-22 weeks after your anatomy scan and 28 weeks after your 26-week diabetes test. Other visits occur and as the card above shows, they are more common at the end of the pregnancy because complications such as high blood pressure and a small baby also become more common.

Early pregnancy tests (6-12 weeks)

These will mostly be arranged by your general practitioner. It helps to bring copies of results with you to your first hospital visit. The common tests, and their reasons, are explained in the table below.

These tests are done by your GP when your pregnancy is confirmed, and should all be available by 12-14 weeks when you first come to your Monash Women’s site.

Test Why do I need this test?
Blood group and antibody screen To check if you will need anti D (for a ‘negative’ blood group) and to ensure no pre-formed rare antibodies that could affect your baby exist
Full blood count To check for anaemia and other blood disorders
Tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis, Rubella. Some doctors may also check for chicken pox immunity and other less common infections To exclude infection and the need for treatment for your own and your baby’s health and to ensure you are safely immune to Rubella
Ferritin level To identify iron deficiency so it can be treated to prevent anaemia (low blood count)
Fasting glucose or ‘A1c’ test To identify pre-existing diabetes or those at high risk of early pregnancy diabetes
Mid-stream urine test +/- urine chlamydia and gonorrhoea test To treat asymptomatic infection
Early dating ultrasound To check your pregnancy is continuing, when your baby is due and how many babies you are having
Genetic screening ‘down syndrome screening’:

  • NIPT
  • First trimester combined screening
  • The quad test/serum screen
Several test options exist to screen for the chance of you having a pregnancy affected by the 3 most common genetic conditions, Down syndrome, Patau syndrome and Edwards syndrome.

All have a different ideal timing, cost, and ability to detect an affected pregnancy – please discuss your options with your GP early in your pregnancy as many will need to be done before the end of the first trimester and cannot be done later in your pregnancy.

Depending on your risk factors you may have additional tests including pre-eclampsia screening, early diabetes screening, and other tests. You caregiver should discuss these tests with you an explain the reasons they are required.

Visit our first trimester page to find out more about early pregnancy

Middle pregnancy tests (14-28 weeks)

These are generally arranged at your hospital visit and include the ’20 week scan’ and 26-week diabetes test.

20 week scan

The ’20 week scan’ is usually done between 19 and 21 weeks and is a detailed scan which examines your baby’s anatomy from top to toe to ensure all is normal, the placenta is not lying near or over the cervix and the cervix is long and closed.

This scan can be done either inside the hospital or at an outside company. You should allow at least an hour for the scan as babies can often not be cooperative when it comes to showing off in the womb!

Remember, although it is tempting to bring family members and children, this scan is a medical procedure and younger children may not be able to tolerate the time of a full scan.

Your 21-22 week pregnancy visit is designed to align with the result of this scan so you can discuss the results with your caregiver. If you have done the test outside the hospital, it is helpful to record the name of the place it was done so the result can be located if it does not arrive automatically.

26 week diabetes test

Your diabetes test is a fasting test and will take two hours, this may also be done at a Monash Pathology site or outside the hospital – again, please take note of your testing provider so results can be located later if missing.

In this test you will have three blood draws and a test dose of glucose mixture to ensure your body is able to process this sugar normally and you do not have diabetes.

This is because untreated pregnancy (gestational) diabetes is associated with poorer outcomes in pregnancy including babies born too large, too small, with low sugar post birth and long-term consequences including obesity and type two diabetes later on.

Gestational diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia in the mother, caesarean section, difficult vaginal birth and stillbirth. Controlling diabetes reduces these risks.

Your blood will also be tested to ensure your iron is normal and you have not developed anaemia and if you are a ‘negative’ blood group, this will again be checked to ensure you have not formed any new antibodies.

Visit our second trimester page to find out more about middle pregnancy

Later pregnancy tests (29-41 weeks)

In late pregnancy, you may have additional ultrasound scans for the growth of your baby if you are at risk of a small baby or your caregiver is concerned. All women planning a vaginal birth are offered a group B streptococcus (GBS) swab at 36 weeks as if you carry group B strep antibiotics are given to reduce the risk of your baby becoming unwell with early onset GBS disease, a significant illness.

After 39 weeks if you are of South Asian ethnicity, and 41 weeks in other women, you will have a short ultrasound and fetal heartbeat (CTG) monitor twice a week to ensure the placenta is working well and it is safe for your pregnancy to continue.

Visit our third trimester page to find out more about late pregnancy

An overview of tests and investigations during pregnancy

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