Pregnancy & Healthcare: What Tests you can Expect

There are plenty of tests and doctor visits that you will experience during your pregnancy. They are aimed at keeping you and baby safe, ensuring a healthy pregnancy, and proper fetal development.

Pregnancy & Healthcare

To get off to a good start for you and baby, the first test your doctor will want to give you is – of all things – a pregnancy test to confirm what you already think you know. Once pregnancy has been confirmed, get ready for nine months of poking and prodding to make sure you are doing your part to keep you and baby healthy. While most of these tests are optional, if you are trusting your doctor with your baby's welfare, you should follow his advice. That doesn't mean to follow him blindly, by all means ask questions about why they recommend the test and what results they hope to find and keep yourself informed for your own peace of mind. Many of these tests are routine for all pregnancies while others depend on your age, health history, and sometimes your ethnic background.

First Trimester

Your first trimester tests will probably include an internal exam to check the size and position of baby, a urine sample, blood pressure test and blood tests to check for sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis and the RH factor. The blood tests are also used for plasma protein screening and human chorionic gonadotropin, both tests for signs of chromosome abnormality, and an ultrasound – to check for excess fluid or thickening at the back of the neck of the fetus. These tests together are used to determine the possibility of a birth defect and the all-over health of you and the fetus.

Second Trimester

During your second trimester, more maternal blood screening is done called multiple markers, as the results work with the results of the blood tests done during the first trimester, in order to get a more accurate picture of the baby's health at this point. These tests check for down syndrome, spina bifida, other chromosomal abnormalities, abdominal defects of the fetus, multiple births, and miscalculated due date. Amniocentesis may be recommended at this stage if the mother is over 35, has shown a risk for chromosome abnormalities, or those with an abnormal maternal serum screening test. A glucose test may now be given to see your risk of gestational diabetes. After drinking a sugary drink, an hour later your blood will be tested for high sugar levels. Based on your results, your doctor may order a glucose tolerance test. An ultrasound may now be performed to check the baby's anatomy, size, gender, movements, organ function, and any possible birth defects.

Third Trimester

Almost there! Along with your regular prenatal tests, blood pressure and weight gain, you may be asked for a urine sample to test for urinary tract infection or signs of preeclampsia. Your doctor will check your ankles and feet for signs of swelling and ask about your general well-being. They will check baby's heartbeat and measure from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus to check the size of the baby and compare it to the gestational age along with last month’s measurement. They will then determine if the baby is in the right position for birth and determine if it has "dropped" to give an estimated time of arrival! Should any of these exams give any concern you might need another ultrasound, but usually by this time if nothing has caused concern, you should relax and wait for that magic moment!

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