Antenatal Tests- Should You Take Them?

At your first doctor’s visit, you can expect that a number of antenatal tests will be performed. While your HIV status,  blood group and a number of other tests are a one-off, others like your blood pressure, weight and urine will be tested at every other clinic visit. What most people don’t know is that you may choose not to undergo any of the tests offered during antenatal visits. It is, however, important to understand that antenatal tests are vital for the well being of both you and your baby. You, therefore, need to ensure that you adhere to what the doctor recommends. 

First Visit

In antenatal care, the first visit involves a series of tests and checks. It may sound a bit much, but they are very quick and simple. The tests allow the doctor to determine your general health and any threats that might harm your pregnancy. It is also a way to know more about you and your baby. 

You will need to disclose the information below:-

  • Family medical history
  • Personal medical history 
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight and height
  • Blood group
  • If you have any STIs, STDs, UTIs, anaemia, and rubella immunity (you may be required to undergo blood tests for this)

Before disclosing any of this information, the doctor will need to ensure that you are in fact pregnant. In most cases, you may have to undergo a blood test. 

Family Medical History

The doctor evaluates the risk of your baby inheriting any genetic disorders that may be part of your family history.  You, therefore, need to research on this. Find out as much as you can from both you and your partner’s close family and relatives. If this information is not available to you, there is an option of genetic testing. 

Personal Medical History

Information about your health, as well as both you and your partner’s sexual history,  have to be revealed. Yes, you need to be very candid about it too. Issues such as acquired STDs, previous pregnancies, possible abortions, are vital information for your doctor to understand you better. For instance, the risk of Rh incompatibility is higher during subsequent pregnancies as opposed to first pregnancies. Rh incompatibility is the cause of jaundice. Read more about Jaundice here. There is also the risk of your baby acquiring HIV should you fail to disclose or undergo tests. The health and well being of you and your baby largely depend on your openness. 

Blood Pressure, Weight, and Height

The acquisition of this information is quite basic and simple. Your weight and height helps determine your BMI (body mass index). Being overweight increases the risk of pregnancy issues. But don’t be alarmed when you start gaining weight. The extra weight is from the baby’s growth. Your body also stores fat to make breast milk. This is why you need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to avoid putting on too much weight. Unlike blood pressure, it is not necessary to have your weight and height taken during every visit. An increase in your blood pressure could be an indication of pregnancy-induced hypertension. 

Blood Group

You are either  rhesus positive or rhesus negative. This information matters in case of heavy bleeding (haemorrhage) before or after birth. Those in the rhesus negative blood group might require extra care to minimize the risk of Rhesus Disease. Refer back to Rh incompatibility under personal medical history. 

Blood Tests

A blood test reveals a lot of information regarding your health. As part of your antenatal care, you’ll need to go through a number of these. The type of tests will depend on your pregnancy, health, your vulnerability to infection and risk of acquiring an inherited condition. A bacterial infection such as Group B streptococcus (GBS) can be found in the rectum or vagina of some pregnant women. The risk of passing the infection to the baby during birth is high. 

There are many ways to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. It is important then that you ask as many questions as possible during your antenatal visits.  


#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, cerebralpalsy, parents

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