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During your pregnancy a range of tests will be offered to you on the NHS such as blood tests and ultrasound scans. These tests are designed to help make your pregnancy safer, check and assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby, and screen for particular conditions.

You don't have to have any of these tests although it's important to understand the purpose of them so that an informed decision can be made about whether you have them. Your maternity team will be able to discuss this with you. You'll be given written information about all vaccinations and screening tests offered while you are pregnant.

At first booking appointment with a midwife your height and weight will be taken to work out your BMI (Body Mass Index). Having a BMI of over 30 can mean an increased risk of problems during pregnancy and during labour. However, it is not advisable to try to lose weight while you are pregnant but it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get some physical activity every day.

Each time you attend an antenatal appointment you will need to give a urine sample to check for pre-eclampsia and your blood pressure will be checked.  At various stages in your pregnancy you’ll be offered blood tests to check for: blood type, rhesus disease, diabetes and anaemia.

Infections in Pregnancy

Blood tests are also offered during pregnancy to check for the following infections which can be seriously harmful to your baby in the short or long-term:

  • susceptibility to rubella (German measles)
  • syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease)
  • hepatitis B
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS).  A confidential test, if you test positive, you and your baby can receive treatment which reduces the risk of infection being passed to your baby.

You should also tell your midwife if you think you may be at risk of hepatitis C, a test can be done which is not routinely offered.

Important vaccinations during pregnancy


Recent evidence suggests that getting flu during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of complications, particularly in the latter stages. Having the flu vaccination will help protect you and your baby.  It is safe to have this at any stage of pregnancy and during breastfeeding and will help protect your baby from flu for the first few months of life. It is normally available from the beginning of September until around January each year and is free for pregnant women on the NHS.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

It is now advised that pregnant women should be vaccinated against whooping cough at 28-38 weeks in order to protect your baby from this illness in the early days when they are too young for vaccinations.  Whooping cough is highly contagious, can make young children very unwell and in serious cases can be fatal. Vaccination has helped to bring the number of serious cases of whooping cough down in the UK and other countries.

It is safe to have these two vaccines at the same time if necessary; you may have a few minor side effects however serious side effects are extremely rare.  For further information speak to your GP or your midwife.

More information about this, other pregnancy related topics and health in general the NHS Choices website has straight-forward, up to date information and advice.


If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

Fact Zone

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