When you are expecting a child, you’ll likely be spending more time in the doctor’s office than ever before. During your pregnancy you can expect to be screened by a practitioner frequently, as the health and wellness of both mother and child are at stake. Fortunately most of these screenings are simple and routine.
Prenatal testing can help identify pregnancy complications and birth defects at the earliest possible moment. In some cases, these prenatal tests can be life saving. The vast majority of tests, however, show that everything is going fine. Largely, standard prenatal tests are conducted simply to provide you and your doctor a view into your baby’s development, while also screening for certain genetic conditions.
The following is a general guide of the most routine prenatal tests and the approximate time in the pregnancy they will be conducted. Naturally, any and all tests should be discussed at length with your medical provider, who will help you determine which tests are right for your unique circumstances, and precisely when they will take place.
Prenatal tests are beneficial in helping to ensure the health and wellness of mother and child before childbirth. Similarly, cord blood banking with MiracleCord gives you the opportunity to protect your family with the preservation of life-saving stem cells found in your child’s umbilical cord blood. Choosing to bank your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue with MiracleCord is a decision that will help ensure you and all of your children are protected for decades to come.
First Trimester: 1-13 weeks
Height, weight and BMI calculations
During one of the initial consultations with your doctor or midwife, your height and weight will be measured. This identifies women who are significantly under or overweight allowing them to be monitored more closely. If you are within a healthy range, this will generally only be taken once.
Maternal Blood tests
It’s important to determine your blood type if you are pregnant as in some rare cases women may produce harmful antibodies against the developing fetus. If necessary, screening tests may be carried out on blood samples to determine any genetic conditions that may be passed onto your child, such as sickle cell anaemia, as well as any infectious diseases.
The first ultrasound is used to date your pregnancy and estimate your expected due date. You may also be able to see how many babies you are carrying, but this is better assessed at later stages. Your uterus and pelvic anatomy will also be examined to see if you are at risk for any conditions or complications while giving birth.
A Nuchal scan is an ultrasound scan that looks specifically at the amount of fluid collected around your baby’s neck. More fluid than normal is a common sign of babies with Down Syndrome, but this is not always the case. This is only an indication and invasive prenatal genetic testing can be used to clarify results if this scan is positive.
Second Trimester: 14-27 weeks
Maternal Blood Tests
At the beginning of the second trimester a ‘Triple Marker’ test may be carried out on your maternal blood. Certain hormones like hCG, will be measured, as abnormal levels early on may indicate complications like chromosome abnormalities or neural tube defects.
Around weeks 18-21, a ‘Fetal Anatomy Survey’ is performed. This is an assessment of your child’s growth and development using ultrasound. Many factors are considered such as growth of limbs and vital organs, placenta positioning, amniotic fluid as well as determining the sex of your child.
Third Trimester: 28 weeks – birth
Glucose Screening/Tolerance Test
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common complications during pregnancy and so it is common to perform a Glucose Screening Test on expectant mothers. This is a simple test which involves giving a blood sample after drinking a sweetened, sugary drink. If glucose levels are abnormal after, you will be referred back to take a full glucose tolerance test, which takes a little longer, but gives a clearer diagnosis.
As you near the end of your pregnancy, the final ultrasound scan is performed to assess your baby’s development and positioning as well as the amount of amniotic fluid. If your baby is breech (feet down) you may be advised to carry out certain exercises and attempts to push them around, otherwise a c-section delivery is needed.
Tests That May Occur Throughout A Pregnancy
Carried out with a simple dipstick test, your urine sample is used to assess levels of protein and glucose. Levels outside the standard range are cause for concern as they can indicate preeclampsia or diabetes. Samples are also tested for bacteria levels as urinary or kidney infections can lead to complications.
Your blood pressure will continuously be monitored throughout your pregnancy with each visit to your doctor’s office. High blood pressure in pregnant women may be an indication of pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal and asymptomatic condition that can lead to seizures in the final trimester.