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A – Z guide to antenatal pregnancy tests

A – Z guide to antenatal pregnancy tests

All you need to know about the antenatal tests to undergo in all trimesters of pregnancy to ensure that mother and child are healthy
Antenatal checks

After confirming pregnancy with a test, what follows is a blood and a urine test; but that’s just the beginning of a series of tests recommended by doctors to monitor the health and growth of the fetus.

If you are an expecting mother and aren’t familiar with antenatal tests, here is an A-Z guide collated by Happiest Health with inputs from gynecologists.


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First trimester 

  • Ultrasound and dating scan (6-9 weeks): After confirming the pregnancy, gynaecologists advise getting an ultrasound scan done. “This is to check whether the baby is correlating to the weeks of gestation, to determine the baby’s viability and look for any abnormalities,” says Dr Varini N, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Milann Fertility and Birthing Hospital, Bengaluru. The pregnant woman also undergoes a dating scan. “This scan determines for how many months the [expecting] mother has been pregnant and when is the possible due date,” she says.
  • Blood tests: Checks the mother’s blood sugar levels, hemogram (which includes hemoglobin, white blood cell count, platelet count and detailed red blood cell count) and thyroid profile.
  • Nuchal Translucency Scan (NT scan): “This is an important scan that … checks whether the baby has major chromosomal abnormalities,” Dr Varini says. She explains that the chromosomal abnormalities take place due to trisomy – a genetic disorder where an additional chromosome is detected – and may lead to the baby being born with Patau Syndrome, Edward Syndrome or Down Syndrome.
  • Tests to check for infections: Checks whether the expecting mother has contracted infections such as syphilis, hepatitis or HIV.

Second trimester 

  • Double marker tests (11-13 weeks): These tests check the chemicals released by the fetus circulating in the mother’s blood to identify the risk of the fetus having genetic anomalies. If the mother has not shown up for the double-marker test, they can take a quadruple-marker test during the 15th week of pregnancy. Around 85% to 88% of abnormalities, if any, can be detected in the fetus.
  • Anomaly Scan (18-21 weeks): Also known as Targeted Imaging For Fetal Anomalies (TIFFA), this scan checks for any physical abnormalities in the heart, face, kidneys, etc. “This is an important ultrasound scan that can detect any abnormalities of the baby from head to toe,” says Dr Varini. Around 97% of abnormalities can be identified with this scan, she says, explaining that sometimes, if the abnormalities are dangerous for both the baby and the mother, the termination of the fetus is advised. However, if the anomalies are not life-threatening, a termination is not required.
  • Screening of the placenta: “The tests performed during the second trimester mainly focus on the position of the fetus and if there are any abnormalities in the placenta,” says Dr Kavitha Vinay Kumar, consultant gynecologist at Janapareddy Hospitals, Secunderabad. It is also important to check if there is any abnormal bleeding in the placenta as this organ is directly linked to the fetus.
  • Gestational diabetes, anemia tests: The expecting mother should be scanned every month to check the growth of the baby. “This is to rule out two major conditions that can occur during pregnancy – anaemia and gestational diabetes,” says Dr Kumar.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: “In order to check blood sugar levels and detect if the mother has diabetes [or there is a family history of diabetes], obesity, polycystic ovaries, an oral glucose test is recommended,” explains Dr Varini. During the blood test, we ask the mother to consume glucose water on an empty stomach and after two hours we take a blood test to find the results. This is to check if the mother can digest the glucose in those two hours,” says Dr Varini.

Third trimester 

  • Checking for gestational hypertension (28 weeks): This test monitors blood pressure and checks if it is higher than normal. In such instances, Dr Kumar explains that doctors prescribe medicines which don’t alter or cause any hindrance in the growth of the baby.
  • Checking the position of the baby (After 32 weeks): Ultrasound scans are conducted to determine the position of the baby. “During these scans, we check the baby’s position in the womb – whether it is upwards, downwards or horizontal,” says Dr Kumar.
  • In addition to tests, some of the hospitals give lessons to expecting mothers on how to push a baby during delivery.


  • Antenatal tests include series of tests and scans that an expecting mother should follow during her pregnancy cycle.
  • The tests checks the vitality and detect any abnormalities if any in the growing fetus.
  • Some of the prominent antenatal tests that can detect anomalies in the baby are the Anomaly Scan, Nuchal Translucency Scan (NT scan), Double Marker Tests, Targeted Imaging For Fetal Anomalies (TIFFA)

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