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Routine tests for pregnant women

The test is most commonly used to detect pregnancy.

It can be detected as early as 10 days after a missed menstrual period

During the early weeks of pregnancy, hCG is important in maintaining function of the corpus luteum (the mass of cells that forms from a mature egg). Production of hCG increases steadily during the first trimester (8 - 10 weeks), peaking around the 10th week after the last menstrual cycle. This is the reason it is sometimes used to monitor pregnancy during that period.

Blood tests are a routine part of your antenatal care.

Your haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin is a part of your blood that carries oxygen around your body.

If you are considered to be at risk for abnormalities of the red blood cells. These abnormalities include sickle cell diseases or thalassaemia.

These initial blood tests give you and your midwife or doctor important information about your health. They may highlight potential problems in your pregnancy.

At some point in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you should also be offered a screening blood test. This can tell you what your chances are of carrying a baby with an abnormality, such as Down's syndrome.  This screening blood test is combined with a nuchal translucency scan.

If you're rhesus negative, your blood will be tested for antibodies at four-weekly intervals from 28 weeks onwards, or according to your hospital's policy.

Blood group

It's important to know your blood group, in case you need a transfusion during pregnancy or birth. Blood group O is the most common. Groups A, B, and AB are less so.

Rhesus (Rh) factor

If you're rhesus positive (RhD positive), you have a particular protein on the surface of your red blood cells. If you're rhesus negative (RhD negative), you don't.

If you're RhD negative and your baby's father is positive, there's a good chance your baby will be RhD positive, too. In this case, your body might produce antibodies that start to attack your baby's red blood cells. Injections of a substance called immunoglobulin, given at 28 weeks, should prevent this happening.

Iron levels

A blood test can tell you if your haemoglobin levels are low, which is a sign of anaemia. Your body needs iron to produce haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body in your red blood cells.

Your haemoglobin levels will be checked again at 28 weeks. If you suffer a lot from tiredness, your midwife will arrange for a blood test earlier to see if you're anaemic.

Immunity to German measles (rubella)

Usually  mothers to be are immune to German measles.

Either they've been vaccinated against it, or they've had the disease as a child.

Hepatitis B

You could be a carrier of the hepatitis B virusand not even know it. A blood test is often the only way to find out for certain. If you pass the disease on to your baby either before or after it is born, its liver could be seriously damaged.


Syphilis can even cause a baby to be stillborn.

The blood test for syphilis can sometimes produce a false positive result. This is because it's hard to tell the bacteria that cause syphilis from other similar bacteria that commonly cause non-sexually transmitted diseases(NCCWCH 2008: 201).

If you're diagnosed with syphilis, you'll be treated with penicillin. This will also protect your baby from the disease.