When you become pregnant you will have endless checks on your blood pressure, weight, baby’s heartbeat, various scans, and blood tests. But have you thought about how your body adapts and changes as your body goes through pregnancy? Are you even in touch with your body’s ‘baseline’ to be able to notice the changes as they happen? If not, don’t panic. In the UK you have access to antenatal checks on the NHS

There are a few things that everyone would ideally want to know before getting pregnant. Ask yourself: can you sit cross legged easily or touch your toes? If you’re sporty are you prone to injury, sprained ankles, etc? Are you a healthy weight and do you have a regular cycle (28 – 32 days)? Is period pain normal for you? Have you struggled to get pregnant or carry to full term? Do you have pre existing health problems? (Diabetes for example) Have you made changes to your diet and lifestyle? Are you sleeping well?

If you find yourself unsure about a few of these, it might be in you and your baby’s best interests to accept a few of the antenatal checks listed in today’s article. Preparation truly is the best way to relieve any anxiety you might have about giving birth. That’s why I recently had a chat with Positively Pregnant founder, Jessica. She empowers women with natural birthing guidance and hypnotherapy breathing techniques to relieve pain. We put this blog together based on this chat, because no matter which birthing method you choose, it is always best to be prepared and stay informed.

1. Weight and height checks in pregnancy

You’ll be weighed at your first booking appointment, but you will not be weighed regularly during your pregnancy. Your height and weight are used to calculate your body mass index (BMI). If you are overweight you are at a higher risk of complications during pregnancy. 

You should also be aware that weight gain is totally normal during pregnancy. You could put on up to 12.5kg (22 to 28lb) after being 20 weeks pregnant.

2. Antenatal urine tests

You’ll be asked to give a urine sample at your antenatal appointments. Your urine is checked for several things, including protein. If this is found in your urine, it may mean you have a urine infection. It may also be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

3. Blood pressure tests

Your blood pressure will be checked at every antenatal visit. A rise in blood pressure later in pregnancy could be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

It’s very common for your blood pressure to be lower in the middle of your pregnancy than at other times. This is not a problem, but it may make you feel lightheaded if you get up quickly. Talk to your midwife if you’re concerned about it.

4. Blood tests and scans

As part of your antenatal care, you’ll be offered several blood tests and scans. Some are offered to everyone, while others are only offered if you might be at risk of a particular infection or condition.

 All the tests are done to make your pregnancy safer or check that the baby is healthy, but you do not have to have them if you do not want to.

5. Blood group and rhesus status

You will be offered a blood test to tell you whether you are blood group rhesus negative or rhesus positive. If you are rhesus negative you may need extra care to reduce the risk of rhesus disease.

 Rhesus disease can happen if you are rhesus negative and pregnant and involves your body developing antibodies that attack the baby’s blood cells. This can lead to anaemia and jaundice in the baby.

If you are rhesus negative, you may be offered injections during pregnancy to prevent you from producing these antibodies. This is safe for both mother and baby.

6. Iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia makes you tired and less able to cope with loss of blood when you give birth. You should be offered screening for iron deficiency anaemia at your booking appointment and at 28 weeks. If tests show you have iron deficiency anaemia, you’ll probably be offered iron and folic acid.

7. Gestational diabetes

You may be at higher risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) if you:

  • are overweight
  • have had diabetes in pregnancy before
  • have had a baby weighing 4.5kg (9.9lb) or more before
  • have a close relative with diabetes
  • have a south Asian, black or African Caribbean, or Middle Eastern family background

If you’re considered to be at high risk for gestational diabetes, you may be offered a test called the OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test). This involves drinking a sugary drink and having blood tests. The OGTT is done when you’re between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. 

 If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you’ll be offered an early self monitoring of blood glucose levels, or an OGTT earlier in pregnancy, soon after your booking visit, and another at 24 to 28 weeks if the first test is normal.

Why are there so many checks and tests available during pregnancy?

The more information they have about you and your body the safer the pregnancy will be for you and your baby. If you’re nervous about this sort of thing, just remember that you do not have to have any of these checks done. But you should at least understand them so you can make an informed decision on whether to have them done.

How a chiropractor can help you during pregnancy

As your baby develops your own organs are pushed up into your ribcage and this can cause heartburn and breathing difficulty, alongside pain in the lower back and pelvis. As they grow babies need extra wiggle room, which can be created by an experienced chiropractor making tiny adjustments to your spine and pelvis. This creates space for rotational movement. If you’ve already had chiropractic work done chances are you’ll be in pretty good shape but chiropractic care can still help during the second and third trimesters.

Would you like to make your pregnancy that little bit easier? Speak to a trusted and experienced chiropractor today.