Antenatal care should start as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed on a positive urine pregnancy test.
The main purpose of the very first antenatal check is to determine the viability and location of the pregnancy. Once that is established through an ultrasound scan, a detailed assessment of the woman’s health and any possible risk factors that may negatively impact the pregnancy will be carried out.
Another important area of discussion during the first visit is the various antenatal tests that are available to evaluate the risks of the fetus being affected by chromosomal or genetic disorders. The pros, cons and implications of the various tests should be discussed. The parents-to-be would always be given all the time they need to consider their options and make their decision.
In initial part of the pregnancy, routine blood tests would be done to check the woman’s blood group as well as to detect any condition that could potentially affect the baby such as severe anaemia, Thalassaemia, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) etc.
A healthy woman with uncomplicated pregnancy should have antenatal check-ups once a month until 32 weeks of pregnancy, then twice a month until 36 weeks of pregnancy and weekly in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy.
All antenatal visits will include assessment of the woman’s well-being, weight, blood pressure, urine tests (for sugar and protein) and growth of the fetus.
A fetal anomaly scan would be done at between 19 to 21 weeks of pregnancy to check for structural abnormalities in the fetus.
Other tests that are usually done during pregnancy include oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at 28 weeks of pregnancy to detect gestational diabetes, screening for Group B Streptococcus at 35 weeks and cardiotograph (CTG) from 37 weeks onwards.
Additional tests and ultrasound scan may be offered depending on the unique clinical condition of the woman and/or the fetus.