10 questions to ask your doctor or midwife about pregnancy
1. When is my baby due?
You’ve probably already done a home pregnancy test and may have a rough idea of when your baby is due.
Your doctor or midwife calculates your due date at 40 weeks after the first day of your last period. It’s not an exact science as babies are often early or late.
2. When will I have scans?
Most women are offered two scans on the NHS.
A dating scan at between eight and 14 weeks, usually around the 12-week mark. It’ll check that all is well and can give a clearer idea of due date.
You will be offered a second scan usually between 18 and 21 weeks. It’s called the anomaly scan as it checks for structural abnormalities in the baby. Many hospitals will tell you the sex of the baby at this scan if you wish to know. Some have a policy of not doing so.
Paying for a private scan is another option.
It’s now possible to get a three or even 4-dimensional image of your baby by ultrasound scan. These cost more than standard ultrasound scans.
3. What tests and screening will I be offered?
Routine urine tests are performed at most appointments throughout pregnancy. Urine is checked for signs of high sugar, which can indicate gestational diabetes, and protein that can be an indicator of pre- eclampsia.
A blood sample will be taken early on in pregnancy. It will be tested to see if you are anaemic which can make you tired. It will also find out your blood group. If you are rhesus negative and have already had a baby you may need special injections later on in pregnancy to protect the baby.
You may also be offered blood tests to see if you have HIV or hepatitis B. Routine rubella (German measles) screening stopped in England in April 2016 because most women have protection from having the MMR jab during childhood.
At your dating scan you will have been offered a Nuchal fold scan which helps to assess the risk of your baby having Down’s Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. If there’s a high probability, you may be offered an amniocentesis test. A sample of the amniotic fluid, which surrounds the baby, is removed with a syringe and sent for testing.
Amniocentesis is generally quite safe but there is an element of risk.
One in 100 women develops complications afterwards that can result in a miscarriage. Discuss your worries and options with your midwife or doctor.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is offered as an alternative to amniocentesis and can be used at an earlier stage of pregnancy than amniocentesis, although it can’t detect spina bifida.