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Routine antenatal tests

22-minute read

Key facts

  • Routine antenatal tests are offered to all parents during pregnancy.
  • Most antenatal tests involve a blood test or ultrasound scan.
  • Routine antenatal tests provide information on your and your baby’s health.
  • It is your choice if you decide to have each test.

What are antenatal tests?

Antenatal tests help make sure that you and your baby are healthy throughout your pregnancy. Antenatal tests are an important part of your pregnancy care.

Several tests, including blood tests, urine tests and ultrasound scans are used to check various aspects of your and your baby’s health.

Some tests are recommended for everyone, while others are only offered if there is a greater chance that you or your baby have a particular condition.

At your first antenatal visit, your doctor or midwife will explain which antenatal tests are recommended. They will give you a list of when you should have them.

Of course, things might change during pregnancy, so you need to be flexible about what appointments and tests you will have.

What is a screening test?

Some antenatal tests are screening tests. This means that they are designed to estimate the chance of you or your baby having a particular condition.

What is a diagnostic test?

A diagnostic test can tell you for certain whether your baby has a condition. If you receive a high-risk result on a screening test, you might be referred for a diagnostic test.

Which antenatal tests are offered during pregnancy?

There are different types of antenatal tests offered during pregnancy.

Here is a summary of some of the antenatal tests offered during pregnancy in Australia:

Name Type of test What does it check for? When is it done?

Infectious diseases screen

Blood test

Immunity to, or presence of, infections such as syphilis, hepatitis, HIV and rubella

First antenatal visit

Blood group + antibodies

Blood test

Blood group and Rhesus negative status

First antenatal visit

Full blood count

Blood test


First antenatal visit

Repeated at 26 – 28 weeks

Vitamin D level

Blood test

Vitamin D deficiency

First antenatal visit

Urine test and culture

Urine (wee) test

Infection or signs of abnormalities

First antenatal visit

May be repeated during pregnancy

Mental health and social wellbeing screen


Anxiety or depression

Family violence

First antenatal visit

May be repeated during pregnancy

Dating scan

Ultrasound scan

Estimated due date

Usually at 8 – 14 weeks

Nuchal translucency test

Ultrasound scan

Screens for genetic abnormalities

From after 11 weeks to before 14 weeks

Combined first-trimester screen (CFTS)

Ultrasound scan and blood test

Screens for genetic abnormalities

11 – 14 weeks

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT)

Blood test

Screens for genetic abnormalities

From 10 weeks

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)


Diagnoses genetic abnormalities

From 11 weeks



Diagnoses genetic abnormalities

From 15 weeks

Morphology scan

Ultrasound scan

Fetal growth and development

Position of the placenta

18 – 22 weeks

Gestational diabetes screening

Blood test

Gestational diabetes

24 – 28 weeks

Group B strep screen

Vaginal or rectal swab

Group B strep

35 – 37 weeks

Why do I need tests during pregnancy?

Antenatal tests are an important way to check your own and your baby’s health and wellbeing throughout your pregnancy. Antenatal tests can help to:

  • pick up medical problems early so they can be treated
  • identify any genetic conditions affecting your baby, so you can decide what to do next
  • check that your baby is growing and developing

It’s important to try to do the tests at the recommended time to make sure you get the most accurate information. The test results are used to help you and your healthcare team make any necessary decisions about your pregnancy.

Ask your doctor or midwife if you’re not sure when you need to have a particular test, or why it is recommended for you.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Do I have to have the routine antenatal tests?

During pregnancy, you and your doctor and midwife can decide together which tests you will have.

You will be given information about each test so you can make an informed decision.

You can choose whether to have antenatal tests. You may decide to have all the tests recommended or only a few.

It’s a good idea to think about the possible results of antenatal testing, and how you might feel when you get the results.

Many people find it helpful to ask questions and discuss their options with their doctor or midwife. You can talk to your partner, close family and friends to help you make choices that are right for you.

Be careful about following advice from the internet or social media since it may not be accurate.

Your doctor or midwife can answer your questions and give you accurate information and advice about your situation.

Questions for your doctor

Here are some questions you might want to ask your midwife or doctor:

  • Why are you offering me this test?
  • What does the procedure involve?
  • Do I need to do anything on the day?
  • When will I get the results?
  • Who will contact me to give me the results?
  • Do I need to do anything to care for myself after the procedure?

More questions to ask your doctor about tests and scans.

Who will do the tests?

Your doctor or midwife will refer you for any antenatal tests that are recommended.

Blood tests

Blood tests are usually done at a pathology collection centre or hospital by a trained pathology collector.

Ultrasound scans

Ultrasound scans are usually performed by a specially trained technician called a sonographer. They can also be done by doctors, midwives or other health workers. Scans may be performed in a radiology clinic or a hospital.

Specialist tests

Procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis are done by a specialist doctor in a clinic or hospital.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

What do antenatal tests cost?

Medicare covers at least some of the cost of routine antenatal tests. You can get some money back or be bulk billed for many ultrasounds and blood tests.

However, not all antenatal tests are covered by Medicare. You may need to pay an out-of-pocket cost, depending on the test and where you get it done. Speak to your doctor if you are worried about the cost of antenatal tests.

It’s a good idea to check about the fees when you book your appointments.

What happens when I get the results?

Your doctor, obstetrician or midwife can answer your questions and give you more information about antenatal tests. They can also discuss the meaning of your test results.

They may also suggest talking to a genetic counsellor, who can guide you through the implications of your results, any decisions you may need to make and the relevant support available.

The best way to contact a genetic counsellor is to ask your doctor. They can refer you to a genetic counselling service.

The Human Genetics Society of Australasia also has a Find a Genetic Counsellor service. It can help you find a registered counsellor in your area.

Resources and support

For mental health support during pregnancy visit:

Try the Australian government Medical Costs finder.

Watch a video about maternity care in Australia in your preferred language.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2023

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