Contact: (0191) 282 5845 - Antenatal Clinic Reception
Antenatal care helps us to keep a close eye on both you and your baby throughout the progress of your pregnancy. We offer a wide range of scans and screening tests to make sure you remain as healthy as possible and if we do find you need extra care, you can be referred to one of our specialist clinics in either the Antenatal Clinic or Fetal Medicine Unit for close monitoring and advice by our doctors and midwives.
If you are felt to be at low risk of developing complications during your pregnancy, your care will continue with your community midwife until your baby is born either in the Delivery Suite at the RVI or at home - wherever you decide.
During your antenatal care your midwife or doctor will check for any health problems which can develop for some women such as high blood pressure, diabetes, anaemia and urinary tract infections. You will also be offered the following routine scans and screening tests.
Many expectant parents look forward to their scans because it gives them the first glimpse of their baby. However scans can also help detect the likelihood in early pregnancy of the baby developing a serious condition such as spina bifida or Down's Syndrome.
Antenatal scanning involves ultrasound scans which transmit high frequency sound waves through the womb bouncing off the baby and returning to provide a clear picture of your baby onto a screen.
The scans are carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers who will apply gel over your stomach and then move a hand held device over the whole area to get a range of views of your baby's position and movements.
Antenatal scanning is offered to all mums-to-be at two key stages during their pregnancy:
- 11 - 13 weeks - known as the dating scan, this will check that the baby is well and is growing and developing as expected. This scan can also show if you are expecting one baby, twins or more and date your pregnancy by measuring the baby's size.
- 20 weeks - known as the anomaly scan, this will check that all is going well and can help us assess whether or not your baby has developed, or is at risk of developing, an abnormality or medical condition. You will be able to see your baby at this stage of your pregnancy and find out the sex if you want to know. We can offer you a copy of the scan for a small charge. Ask your midwife for more information.
The Fetal Medicine Unit also has a state-of-the-art 4D scanner to help with diagnosis and close monitoring of babies with problems.
This specialist service is also available to any women who would like a private scan.
Find out more about the amazing images you can see of your unborn baby with 4D scans at our Private Ultrasound Services website.
Down's Syndrome Screening
Screening tests for Down's Syndrome are offered to all pregnant women regardless of age. The risk of Down's Syndrome increases the older the woman is.
The tests we offer here at the RVI to screen for Down's Syndrome meet the current recommendations of the National Screening Committee:
- Combined Test - a two part test which consists of a special ultrasound scan which measures the fluid at the back of the baby's neck and a blood test that measures 2 proteins. This test can identify whether you are at increased risk of your baby having Down's Syndrome. If you are early enough you can have the test from11 weeks and 2 days into your pregnancy up to 14 weeks and 1 day. .Even if you fall into the increased risk category where your risk is higher than 1 in 150 this does NOT always mean that your baby has Down's syndrome, but you may wish to have further tests to find out for certain. These tests are described as diagnostic. (please follow the link below to find more information about Diagnostic tests).
- Maternal Serum Screening (MSS) - a blood sample will be taken from you at around 16 weeks to check 4 proteins which can identify whether or not you are at increased risk of your baby having Down's Syndrome. Even if you fall into the increased risk category where your risk is higher than 1 in 200 this does NOT always mean that your baby has Down's syndrome, but you may wish to have further tests to find out for certain. These tests are described as diagnostic. (please follow the link below to find more information about
- Diagnostic tests. These tests give you a definite answer and involve either taking a small sample from the placenta (chorionic villus sampling) or taking a sample of the fluid in the womb around the baby (amniocentesis). Please note that the information in national leaflets may vary slightly to what we do in this area and any small differences will be explained in full at the time of a test. Your doctor and midwife will explain more about these tests or alternatively contact the Screening Midwives on 0191 2829547.
We appreciate that these decisions can be difficult to make and wish to provide you with as much support as possible before, during and after testing. Each woman will make a decision that is right for her and her family, there is no right and wrong.
Screening for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia
All women are now offered routine screening for these conditions which are serious, inherited blood disorders. Screening involves a simple blood test in the early weeks of pregnancy.
People only have these disorders if they inherit an abnormal gene from both mother and father. If you inherit just one abnormal gene you are known as a ‘carrier’.
You can find out more about these conditions and screening tests at the NHS Antenatal and Newborn Screening Programmes website or ask your midwife for more information.