Overview of the steps in pregnancy

The first antenatal visit

Throughout your pregnancy you will receive regular care either at the hospital, with your GP or community midwife. You and your baby will have regular checks, discuss concerns and make plans for the baby's birth

Your first check is from approximately the 10th week onwards, where your blood pressure, urine, weight, blood tests and an ultra sound scan of your baby. Occasionally an internal pelvic examination is performed. You will be asked questions about your general health and past medical, surgical and gynaecological and obstetric history.

Blood tests include;
  • Blood group
  • If Rhesus positive or negative
  • To check for anaemia
  • Immunity to Rubella
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • Sickle Cell and thalassaemia

The normal duration of pregnancy

The duration of pregnancy is calculated in pregnancy weeks, during which normally menstruation ceases. The calculation begins from the first day of the last menstrual period. The average pregnancy is 40 weeks but, the birth of your baby could arrive at any time from 38 weeks onwards.

Follow Up Antenatal visits

After your first visit, the doctor or midwife will check your urine, blood pressure, palpate your abdomen, check the growth and position of the baby and listen to the baby's heartbeat. These checks occur monthly until 28 weeks and every 2 weeks from 36 weeks until your baby is born.

Ultra sound scan

After your first scan a second is performed between 18 - 20 weeks. The is to check the position of the placenta, growth and development of the baby. Ultra sound scan also detect multiple births, check the baby's measurements and accurately calculate the baby's age and more precisely predict when it will be born.

Tests to detect Abnormalities in the baby

Different maternity units may use different test, but all should meet national standards. No test is 100% accurate and some abnormalities can still go undetected.
  • Alpha-fetoprotein blood test (AFP)
  • Down's Syndrome blood test
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
  • Amniocentesis

For more information about screening in pregnancy ask your midwife or GP and see links below:



  • A baby born between the 38th week of pregnancy and the 42nd is considered to be born full-term.
  • A baby is premature if he is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • At 24 weeks the baby is considered viable and has a chance of surviving.
  • Babies born prematurely occur most commonly between 33 weeks and 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • The babies born before 34 weeks will need help with breathing, feeding and regulating their temperature and the more premature they are born the more help they will need.
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