During pregnancy, various examinations are performed to monitor the health of the mother and the foetus. This page lists the main examinations carried out at a maternity and child health clinic and maternity ward.
The examinations carried out at a maternity clinic during your first visit:
A blood sample is taken to determine your blood group, Rhesus factor and haemoglobin, and to exclude syphilis. HIV antibodies and hepatitis will be checked for with the mother’s permission.
Levels of protein, glucose and, if necessary, bacteria will be checked from a urine sample. The mother’s height, weight and blood pressure are measured and her body mass index (BMI) is calculated.
More information about blood group antibodies (Finnish Red Cross Blood Service)
A glucose tolerance test is carried out to find out if the pregnant woman has gestational diabetes. The glucose tolerance test is typically performed during pregnancy weeks 24–28. If the expecting mother is estimated to have a high risk of becoming ill (BMI at least 35 kg/m2, the mother has suffered from gestational diabetes before or has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the presence of sugar has been detected during early pregnancy, or a close relative has type 2 diabetes), the test will be carried out during weeks 12–16, instead. If the result is normal during that test, the test will be performed again during week 24–28. An aberrant glucose tolerance result will not lead to re-testing.
More information about gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, the health check-ups at a maternity and child health clinic monitor:
- your weight, blood pressure and the presence of glucose in your urine
- haemoglobin level in your blood
- weekly weight increases
- possible swelling
- position of the foetus
- foetal heart sounds
- foetal movements (Naistalo, in Finnish)
Ultrasounds and foetal screening
Normally, two ultrasound examinations are performed during pregnancy. The general ultrasound examination during early pregnancy is performed in weeks 11–13, which determines how far along your pregnancy is and the number of foetuses. A structural ultrasound scan is performed in weeks 19–21, checking the organs and for any severe structural abnormalities.
If a pregnant woman also wishes to have a screening for chromosomal abnormalities, a sample of her blood will be taken in weeks 9–11 and a nuchal translucency scan will be performed on the foetus in weeks 11–13.
More information on ultrasounds and foetal screening:
Listening to the baby's heartbeat
The baby’s heartbeat can be heard over the stomach by the 26th to 30th week of pregnancy. The sound is a quick knocking noise that resembles vibration. The normal fluctuation margin of baby’s heartbeat is 120–160 beats per minute. When the baby is sleeping and remains still, the heart rate is lower and more even.
An empty toilet paper roll is a good hearing aid for listening to the heartbeat. Before listening, gently press the stomach with a few fingers to feel where the baby’s back is. The back feels like a longish, hard area. The heartbeat can be best heard near the baby’s upper back.
Set the toilet roll on the mother’s stomach above the baby’s back, press your ear against the hole and make sure that your fingers do not touch the roll and cause a rustling sound. Push the roll into different positions with your head, focus and listen. Change ears, if you cannot hear properly. You can also practice listening at the appointments with the maternity and child health clinic. You can also listen without using the toilet roll, using just your ears.