Prenatal screening counselling

Prenatal screening tests are conducted during pregnancy to check the health of your foetus.

 Doctor doing ultrasound on pregnant woman

Screening tests show whether a pregnancy is at increased risk of a medical condition or genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome, spina bifida or certain genetic conditions. The results do not give you a definite answer and cannot detect all possible conditions, but may help you decide if you want to have further diagnostic tests.

We understand you may feel anxious about these tests – this is completely normal. We offer counselling and support for parents who are dealing with prenatal testing results and/or pregnancy loss.

Prenatal screening services

The two most common screening options are:

  • first trimester screening – 9 weeks to 13 weeks six days of pregnancy
  • second trimester screening – 14 to 18 weeks of pregnancy

First trimester screening

This test involves a blood test and an ultrasound. The results are combined to determine the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, and some other abnormalities.

Second trimester screening

This test involves a blood test only. The results show the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome or a neural tube defect like spina bifida. This test is sometimes called a maternal serum screen (MSS) or the triple test.

For many parents the results of these tests will provide relief and reassurance that the foetus is healthy.

For others, further diagnostic tests may be required.

Sadly, for some parents the results will not be positive, and may raise tough questions, such as whether to continue with the pregnancy. 

Our support

If you have received adverse test results and are struggling, you are not alone and help is available.

We offer counselling and support for parents who are dealing with prenatal testing results and/or pregnancy loss.

Counselling is provided by qualified mental health practitioners and can be provided one-on-one, as a couple or with your family.

For more information contact your local Raphael Service or ask your general practitioner (GP) for a referral.