The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of great excitement and anticipation. It’s also a time when you may feel uncertain ahead of your first midwife appointment, not knowing what to expect. During the first trimester, you’ll have a number of tests and scans to help you and your healthcare team monitor your pregnancy and the health of your baby.
What tests and scans will I have in the first trimester?
Often, your first point of call will be your GP. You may discuss nutrition, lifestyle, folic acid and vitamin D, as well as management of pre-existing conditions. Your GP may help make referral, or you can self refer directly to your nearest midwifery service. It’s best to make contact with your GP or midwife as early as possible, to ensure you have all the information you need regarding your pregnancy.
Booking appointment with your midwife or doctor. At this appointment, your midwife will take a detailed history of your pregnancy. They will discuss any pre-existing medical conditions and what to expect from your pregnancy and antenatal care. You will be given hand held notes and discuss a care plan, as well as any additional support that you may need. Your midwife will also discuss any tests and scans that will be offered to you in your pregnancy.
- Blood tests: These tests can check your blood group, general health and infections like HIV and syphilis.
- You will also be offered a blood test for sickle cell and thalassaemia if there is a high chance you might have them. This should be done before 10 weeks.
- Urine test: This test can check for for several things, including glucose and protein – the latter of which can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
- Blood pressure: This will be checked routinely during pregnancy at every antenatal appointment. This is to screen for hypertension and a condition called pre-eclampsia, which can affect the health of the mother and baby.
Dating scan. This ultrasound scan is used to estimate the date of your pregnancy and check the development of your baby.
You will be offered a combined screening test. This blood test and nuchal translucency scan are used to calculate the risk of your baby having Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, or Patau syndrome.
You will have a second midwife appointment to discuss any findings from your blood tests, scans and screening test. You will also have to complete another urine sample and check your blood pressure. At this test you may be offered the Whooping Cough Vaccine.
This is technically a 2nd Trimester Scan, but the mid-pregnancy scan, (also known as the 20-week screening scan) is an important milestone. This ultrasound scan is used to check the development of your baby and look for any problems. It is a medical examinations and looks in detail at the baby. It allows the sonographer to look for rare conditions. You can usually determine the sex of the baby by this scan. Some hospitals may refuse to tell you though, so speak to the sonographer at the start of the scan.
After your 20 week scan, no further scans will normally be arranged for uncomplicated pregnancies. But, you may be offered more scans and tests if there are any concerns with your pregnancy or if further monitoring is needed.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the timeline of first trimester tests and scans:
- The exact timing of the tests and scans may vary depending on your individual circumstances.
- You may also have other tests and scans during your first trimester, such as a blood test to check your iron levels, or a urine test to check for infection.
- It’s important to talk to your healthcare team about the tests and scans that you need and when they will be done.
What do the results of these tests mean?
The results of your tests and scans will be discussed with you by your midwife and healthcare provider. They will be able to explain what the results mean and what your options are.
What if I have concerns about the results of my tests or scans?
If you ever have any concerns about the results of your tests or scans, don’t hesitate to talk to your midwife. They are best equipped to help and will be able to answer your questions and help you understand the results.
How can I prepare for my first trimester tests and scans?
There’s no real need to do anything special to prepare for most first trimester tests and scans. However, it’s a good idea to eat a light meal before your blood test and to drink plenty of fluids before your ultrasound scan, so you attend with a full bladder.
Are first trimester tests and scans mandatory?
No, first trimester tests and scans are not mandatory. It’s totally up to you if you want to have any screening tests during pregnancy. However, they are recommended by the NHS as they can help to identify any potential problems early on in pregnancy.
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First trimester tests and scans are an important part of monitoring your pregnancy and the health of your baby. They can help to identify any potential problems early on, so that you and your healthcare team can make informed decisions about your care and your little one.
If you have any questions or concerns about first trimester tests and scans, speak with your midwife or healthcare provider. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate answers to your questions and help you understand the benefits and risks of any tests at any stage of pregnancy.