In Germany, pregnant women are offered prenatal screening tests which are financed by the statutory health insurance system. These tests are important! They provide an optimum way to observe how your baby is developing as well as the physical changes you are undergoing. If a risk is detected, it is possible to act quickly.
During every screening, you will be weighed, your blood pressure taken and your urine tested.
Occasionally you will have a blood test. In addition, the doctor will externally palpate your uterus as well as check the position of your baby and monitor the foetal heart tones. All the results and any necessary treatments are noted down in your maternity records.
In Germany, three ultrasound tests are usually carried out during the course of your pregnancy. Upon request or if there is a particular risk, it is possible to take advantage of individual health services (German: IGe-Leistungen). Prenatal diagnosis (prenatal = prior to birth) is carried out to detect any abnormalities in the development of the foetus.
It is not only your baby's heart that beats faster! For the parents-to-be, the first ultrasound scan is an incredibly exciting experience. They can see their child ‒ the heart beating, the tiny arms and legs moving and perhaps even catch a glimpse of their baby sucking his/her thumb!
By the way, during an ultrasound scan the sound waves which are reflected by the body tissue are measured. It is not a measuring method which uses radiation and is therefore completely harmless for mother and baby.
Prenatal diagnosis is not part of the regular prenatal screening tests. These refined diagnostics are used to detect chromosomal abnormalities, hereditary diseases and anomalies in the unborn child.
Prenatal diagnosis involves certain examinations, including a comprehensive ultrasound evaluation with measurement of the nuchal translucency, the first trimester screening, the triple test as well as invasive examinations (chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis).
The invasive examinations may only be carrried out with the written permission of the pregnant woman.