A number of tests are offered for you and your baby during pregnancy and tests are also offered for your baby after birth.

See the leaflet Screening tests for you and your baby (available in a number of different languages) for more information regarding the screening that is available. Your midwife will also be able to answer any questions that you may have or signpost you to other health professionals.

You may also be offered screening for Gestational Diabetes (Diabetes in pregnancy) If you have factors in your history that mean you may have higher chance of developing Gestational Diabetes. This will be discussed further with you at your antenatal appointments. 

You will also find information about screening available to you on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-screening/

Ultrasound scans

All pregnant women are offered two routine ultrasound scans, a dating scan and an anomaly scan. These will be performed by one of our sonographers. 
You may require additional scans to monitor your baby’s growth during pregnancy. Your midwife or obstetric doctor will explain why these are necessary. 
The antenatal ultrasound department can be found within the Antenatal clinic. Your midwife will request your dating scan and a letter is usually sent out to you. If you need to contact to clinic regarding your appointment please telephone 01246 512494.
Scans are offered to all pregnant women but they are not compulsory.
Consent for the examination will need to be given before the scan can take place, staff will be happy to answer any questions to ensure that you understand what is going to happen and possible outcomes.

Dating scan

The main purpose of this scan is to:

  • Check how many babies there are and if they have heart beats
  • Check that the basic anatomy of the head, body and limbs appear normal at this stage of pregnancy
  • Measure the baby from head to bottom to ‘date’ the pregnancy and give a due date

Combined screening/NT scan

Between 11+2 and 14+1 weeks you will be offered combined 1st Trimester screening for :-

  • Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes
  • Down’s syndrome only
  • Or Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes only

You may choose to decline combined screening. 

In addition to the length of the baby the fluid and membrane behind the baby’s neck is measured.

A blood test will also be taken.

The blood test in combination with the ultrasound scan and some personal details such as your age, will then provide you with your ‘chance’ of the baby having one of the syndromes (the results are usually posted to you within a week).

This test is ‘screening’ and will NOT pick up all babies with these syndromes.

If you are between 14+2 and 20 weeks pregnant or if the NT was unmeasurable, then you will be offered the 2nd Trimester screening (Quad test) which screens for Down’s syndrome only and again it is screening and will NOT detect all babies with Down’s syndrome.

The 18- 20+6 weeks fetal anomaly scan

The main purpose for the scan is to look for structural problems in your baby.

The scan looks at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spine, face, kidneys and abdomen. Usually it appears the baby is healthy and developing well, but sometimes we find a problem. If this happens the findings will be explained to you and you will be seen by one of the medical team so that you can ask any questions you may have. It may be necessary to be seen in another hospital for a second opinion.

‘Scans are not guaranteed to find all problems’. In a small number of cases babies are born with problems that were not seen on the scan, it is not possible to pick up all abnormalities on an ultrasound scan.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can the scan harm me or the baby?

There are no known risks from having an ultrasound.

Who can come into the scan room with me?

We recommend one adult to attend the scan with you.

Can I bring children into the scan room?

Remember, an ultrasound scan is an important medical examination and it is treated in the same way as any other hospital investigation.

We have no child care provisions in the department.

It is advised not to bring children with you, however if you don’t have any child care provision then your own children may accompany you, however if the sonographer is unable to concentrate then you will be asked to take the children out whilst the examination is completed.

Can I bring more than one adult into the scan room with me?

No. We allow one adult into the scan room. This is a medical examination that requires a great deal of concentration to ensure accuracy of findings. As the baby and the findings are discussed throughout the scan, there is NOT an opportunity for people to swap over during the scan either.

What will happen in the scan room?

Scans are carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers. The rooms are dimly lit to help the sonographer obtain the images required.

You will be asked to lie on a couch and then be asked to raise your top to your chest and lower your skirt or trousers to your hips. Tissue will be tucked into your clothing and gel applied to your tummy. The sonographer will then pass a hand held device called a probe over your skin.

Having a scan doesn’t hurt, but slight pressure may need to be applied to get the best views of your baby.

How long will the scan take?

A scan usually takes between 10 – 30 minutes. However the sonographer may not be able to get good views if:

  • Your baby is lying in an awkward position or moving around a lot
  • If you are above average weight, because the quality of the image can be reduced meaning there is more tissue for the ultrasound waves to get through before they reach the baby

If it is difficult to get a good image, the scan may take longer, you may be asked to walk around to move the baby into another position, or it may need to be repeated at another time, but this does not mean there is anything wrong with the baby.

How will I get the results of the scan?

The sonographer will tell you the results at the end of the scan.

Can I find out whether it is a girl or a boy?

Fetal sexing is not part of the screening programme but if you ask we will let you know what the baby appears to be at the end of the examination if we are able to see. However it is not a 100% guarantee.  The sex of the baby will only be given verbally and not written down.

Can I buy a photo?

Yes – there is a payment machine which accepts cards and cash.

Why does my photo not look as clear as other peoples?

Photos will differ, but the main reasons that images may be less clear are:

  • Your baby is lying in an awkward position or moving around a lot
  • If you are above average weight, because the quality of the image can be reduced meaning there is more tissue for the ultrasound waves to get through before they reach the baby. 

Can I film the scan on my phone or other recording device?

No. This is a medical examination that requires a great deal of concentration to ensure accuracy of findings. You may not understand the images you see if recorded which could increase your stress and anxiety. The sonographer also needs to concentrate to be able to ensure the examination is done correctly.