Throughout one’s pregnancy, it is important to have regular trips to the doctor to keep track of you and your baby’s condition. During these consultations, you may be required to undergo several prenatal tests, which are procedures that ensure you are in optimal health and that your baby is developing normally.
Not all expectant mothers are requested to undergo the same tests. Some women may have to take a certain examination while others may not, as this will depend on several risk factors.
There are various prenatal tests that women may get during their first, second, or third trimester. To make sure you are healthy throughout your pregnancy, your doctor may require routine tests, such as blood tests and urine tests, to check for certain conditions, which include diabetes, hepatitis B, anemia, HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, and preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy.
You may also get a pap smear, group B Strep screening, or an ultrasound, which will give you an image of your baby to make sure his or her organs are developing well.
Screening and diagnostic tests
Your doctor may recommend that you undergo a certain prenatal test for either of the two reasons: screening purposes or diagnostic purposes. Screening tests are procedures that determine whether your baby is likely to have a certain health condition than others, yet they don’t tell you for sure if that condition is indeed present. This is where diagnostic tests come into the picture, as they confirm whether or not your baby has a particular health problem. Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic exam if a screening test result shows that your baby is at high risk of a certain health condition.
Chorionic villus sampling
Between the crucial weeks 10 and 12, your doctor may want to check whether your baby is developing normally. These are the best times to get a chorionic villus sampling, an invasive screening test that checks for genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, and other birth defects. The procedure involves taking a small tissue piece from your placenta, either through the abdomen or through the cervix. Since this is an invasive procedure, healthcare professionals only recommend this screening test to expectant mothers who are at risk of carrying a child with these particular birth defects.
Fetal non-stress test
Prenatal consultations are the perfect times to divulge any unusual personal observations during your pregnancy. If you sense that your baby is not moving more frequently than usual, your doctor may suggest that you get a fetal non-stress test. This screening test, which is usually recommended to women over 28 weeks of gestation, is a non-invasive, “no stress” test that will determine if your child is receiving adequate oxygen inside the womb. Otherwise, this test might indicate placenta or umbilical cord problems that would explain the low oxygen levels.
The fetal non-stress test involves attaching belts across the mother’s abdomen: one strapped to a Doppler transducer to measure the fetal heart rate and another strapped to a toco transducer to measure uterine contractions. The purpose of this screening test is to determine how the fetal heart rate responds to fetal movement.
Normally, the baby’s heart should beat faster while he or she moves. If the result is non-reactive, this may call for other additional testing to determine the baby’s condition.
You may or may not need to undergo these screening and diagnostic tests, but don’t be alarmed if you do. Talk to your doctor as much as possible to clear out any worry and misunderstanding about the procedures. After all, these tests are only meant to check on your child’s health and to treat any problem as soon as possible.