Tests During Pregnancy

Tests During Pregnancy

Having a baby these days is much safer than it was even 50 years ago. The main contributing factor in increased safety for both mother and baby is thanks to all of the advanced testing available. Understanding these test and why they are important will comfort you throughout your pregnancy.

Tests During Pregnancy

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These days having a baby is so much safer than it was even 50 years ago. A huge factor in mother’s and baby’s safety is thanks to all of the tests moms-to-be have to go through. If you understand these tests and why they are important, you will feel much better when your doctor orders them for you.

The following is a list of the tests our doctors use. As a mom-to-be, you will have MOST of these. In many cases, you will not need every one of the tests. If you have questions about the tests and the procedures, your doctor or nurse can help.

TestWhat the Test DoesWhen
Blood TestsChecks blood type, RH factor, screens for anemia, checks for immunity to rubella (German measles), and tests for hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV. Depending on racial, ethnic, or family background, you may be offered tests and genetic counseling to assess risks for diseases such as Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia (if these were not done at a preconception visit). Checks for exposure to diseases such as toxoplasmosis and varicella (the virus that causes chickenpox). Tests your levels of hCG, a hormone secreted by the placenta.First Trimester
Urine TestsChecks for kidney infection and, if necessary, to confirm your pregnancy by measuring the level of hCG. (A blood hCG test to confirm pregnancy may be used instead). Used to detect glucose (a sign of diabetes) and albumin (a protein that may indicate preeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)First Trimester and Regularly Throughout Pregnancy
Cervical SwabsChecks for cervical cancer, chlamydia, gonorrhea and bacterial vaginosis (an infection that can cause preterm birth)First Trimester
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)(optional, age 35+) genetic defects, such as Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and muscular dystrophy10-12 weeks of pregnancy
Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) and multiple marker screeningMeasures the level of alpha-fetoprotein (a protein produced by the fetus. Abnormal levels indicate the possibility (but not existence) of Down syndrome or a neural tube defect such as spina bifida, which can then be confirmed by ultrasound or amniocentesis).16 to 18 weeks
UltrasoundsUsed to verify due date, check for multiple fetuses, investigate complications such as placenta previa (a low-lying placenta) or slow fetal growth, or detecting malformations like cleft palate. Your first ultrasound is scheduled relatively early in your pregnancy and is not typically used to determine the sex of your baby. If you would like to know your baby’s sex and it is not possible to tell at your first ultrasound, you will need to schedule a separate ultrasound appointment later in your pregnancy.16 to 18 weeks
Glucose screeningTests for pregnancy-induced diabetes (which can result in overly large babies, difficult deliveries, and health problems for you and your baby)24 to 28 weeks
Group B streptococcus screeningGroup B strep (common in 30% of healthy women) is the leading cause of life-threatening infections in newborns and can also cause mental retardation, impaired vision, and hearing loss. If your test results are positive, we will treat you with antibiotics to decrease the chances that you do not pass Group B to your baby during delivery.35 to 37 weeks
Fetal Doppler ultrasoundCan determine if blood flow to the placenta and fetus is normal2nd Trimester
Amniocentesis (optional)Used to detect neural tube defects and genetic disorders15 to 18 weeks
Electronic fetal heart monitoringThe fetal heart rate can indicate whether the fetus is doing well or is in trouble and can be done any time after 20 weeks20 weeks of pregnancy through delivery
Nonstress TestMeasure the baby’s heart rate as it movesWeekly in selected high-risk pregnancies
Contraction stress testMeasures the baby’s heart rate in response to contractions to see how the baby will handle laborDuring high-risk pregnancies
Biophysical profileCombines a nonstress test with an ultrasound for a more accurate evaluation of the babyThird Trimester


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