Thursday, February 3, 2011

Antenatal blood tests

When you see your midwife for the first time she will take a detailed history of your health, your previous pregnancies and your present pregnancy.

This is a very brief introduction to the blood tests so please talk with your midwife, she can offer a more detailed explanation.

A full blood count will be done to check your haemoglobin (iron) levels to make sure that you are not anaemic.  If you iron levels are low, your midwife will discuss your dietary intake of iron and you may need to take iron tablets. 

Your blood group (O, A, B AB) and rhesus factor (negative or positive) will be tested.  If you are rhesus negative you will have further blood tested at 28 weeks and again at 36 weeks to ensure that you are not developing antibodies that affect your baby (usually in second and subsequent pregnancies) by seeing it as a 'foreign body.'  You may require an injection of Anti D immunoglobulin during the pregnancy and/or after the birth of your baby.  At birth blood will be taken from the umbilical cord and then your baby's blood group will be tested.  If your baby is rhesus negative, you will not require Anti D, if your baby's rhesus factor is positive, you will require Anti D.  Simply put, the way Anti D works is by coating any fetal  blood cells that have escaped into your blood circulation following the birth to prevent any antibodies forming that will affect a subsequent pregnancy.

Rubella or Germany measles is checked to see if you immune.  If you are not immune, you cannot be vaccinated during pregnancy, your GP can vaccinate you after you have delivered your baby.  

Your blood is also tested for syphilis and Hepatitis B. If you are a carrier of Hepatitis B, your baby will be vaccinated at birth.  You will also be offered an HIV test, this is because early detection can reduce the risk of mother to child transmission.

You will also be offered maternal serum screening.  We will not discuss that test here, please talk to your midwife.

All women have their blood rechecked at 28-32 weeks of pregnancy for Iron levels, antibodies and a polycose will be done.  A polycose is to check that you are not developing gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy).

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