Important Tests For Pregnant Women
When you become pregnant, your obstetrician will schedule a variety of tests for you and your little one. Some are scheduled to ensure that your health is excellent and some are to ensure that the baby is healthy. Here are a few that your doctor probably will recommend and schedule for you.
Usually one of the very first tests is a routine blood test. This is done to check for many conditions, such as anemia or a low platelet count, which might indicate that your blood might not clot properly, which can put you at high risk during pregnancy and delivery.
The initial blood test also screens for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Blood tests also will be used to check your Rh factor. Most people are Rh positive, but if you test Rh negative and the father of the baby is Rh positive, this can cause hemolytic anemia. As the pregnancy progresses, most women opt to take a multiple marker screening test somewhere between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. This test checks for conditions such as spina bifida and Down syndrome and is about 80% accurate, so if you were to test positive for these neural tube defects, further tests might be given to confirm the results.
Usually your doctor will take urine tests from time to time throughout your pregnancy. One of the main conditions your doctor is checking for is gestational diabetes, but the doctor also is ensuring that you don’t have a kidney infection or a urinary tract infection. A glucose tolerance test also will be given at some point to further check for diabetes. For this test, you drink a high-sugar drink and wait for an hour and then blood is drawn to see the result.
During each visit, your doctor will probably have a nurse check your weight and also take your blood pressure. Checking blood pressure is highly important, as this can definitely go up during pregnancy and some women even develop a condition known as preeclampsia. Less than 8 percent of women develop this serious rise in blood pressure, and urine and blood tests, as well as blood pressure checks are all done in part to ensure that if a woman does have preeclampsia that it is monitored carefully.
One of the highlights of pregnancy typically is the fetal ultrasound test. Your doctor does use an ultrasound machine to check the growth and position of the baby, as well as the health of the placenta and the overall health of the baby. But for parents, this is a chance to see the baby’s heart beating and to get a glimpse of their little one and even find out the sex of the baby. An ultrasound machine uses sound waves to create images of the baby and allows doctors to check heart health and overall development. Of course, your doctor also will use a portable ultrasound transducer to check the fetal heart rate during your regularly scheduled visits.
There are other tests that might be given, as well, but these are some of the most common. While a woman might be a bit nervous about all of these tests and the health of the baby, the vast majority of pregnancies have no problems at all. Many problems can be treated, as well, so while the tests are important, the results usually bring peace of mind to the expectant parents.