Blood tests are part of the norm when it comes to being pregnant with your first tests coinciding with your first doctors appointment around week 12.
You will be asked to give blood to check:
What your blood group is
Whether you your blood is rhesus positive or negative
To establish what your haemoglobin (iron) level is
To establish your immunity to Rubella (German measles)
To establish your immunity to Chicken Pox
Whether you are HIV positive or have AIDS
Whether you have syphilis or hepatitis B
These first blood tests, are very important as they your doctor important information about your health and any issues which may arise as your pregnancy
Your blood group will be established as this is critical information should you need to have a transfusion during pregnancy or giving birth.
Rhesus (Rh) factor
Your doctor and midwife needs to know whether you are Rhesus positive. It means you have a specific protein on the surface of your red blood cells, or Rhesus negative, which means that you do not. If you are Rhesus negative and the baby’s father is positive, there's a strong chance that your baby will be Rh positive. During labour there is a chance that some of the baby's blood will enter the mothers system and she will produce antibodies against the Rhesus protein. In subsequent pregnancies this can cause a problem because in that instance these antibodies will destroy the baby's red blood cells. In such an event, your subsequent pregnancies will be monitored regularly from 28 weeks onwards.
The blood test will tell if your haemoglobin levels are low which is a sign of anaemia
. Your body needs iron to produce haemoglobin which is used to carry oxygen around the body in your red blood cells. If you are anaemic, your doctor or midwife may also prescribe iron tablets
and will talk to you about the best foods to eat
(such as lean red meat and and dark green vegetabes such as spinach or cabbage) to boost your iron stores.
If you suffer a lot from tiredness or fatigue
at any point during pregnancy, your doctor or midwife can arrange for a blood test to see if you are anaemic.
German measles (rubella)
Most pregnant women are immune to German measles because they have either had the disease as a child or have been vaccinated against it.
If you aren't immune, your doctor will advise you to be vaccinated against the disease once your baby is born. He will also tell you to avoid anyone who has or might have the infection while you're still expecting. If caught during pregnancy, German measles can seriously affect your baby’s sight, hearing and heart.
A test for HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS is now routine for all pregnant women although you can refuse it if you wish. If you are HIV positive there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of the virus being transmitted to your baby during pregnancy.
A pregnancy woman may be a carrier of the hepatitis B virus and not be aware of it. The blood test is the only way to know for sure. If you pass hepatitis B onto your baby either before or after he is born, their liver can be seriously damaged. If your baby is high risk of catching it from you, they will be given injections of the vaccine as soon as they are born. You and your baby will also receive immunoglobulin by injection at the time of birth.
This sexually transmitted disease is relatively rare today but if you do have it and it isn't fully treated when you are expecting, it can cause abnormalities in your baby and even stillbirth. If your blood test comes back positive and you are diagnosed with syphilis, you will be given penicillin to treat it. This will greatly reduce the chances of your baby getting this infection.