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Prenatal Testing Expectant Moms Need to Undergo

When you’re pregnant, you need to undergo a series of checkups and tests to ensure your baby’s health. These don’t mean that your baby is in trouble. Rather, these tests are done to help doctors deliver prompt treatment as needed.

Prenatal tests are necessary, but they can overwhelm a first-time mother. Read more to learn about the different prenatal tests, what they do, and what the results mean for you and your baby.

Routine Prenatal Exams: What to Expect

Throughout your checkups, you will undergo several prenatal tests that every expectant mother goes through. Some of these tests monitor your baby’s condition. Others gather more information about your unborn child. Generally, routine exams ensure the success of your pregnancy.

Blood Tests

During your initial checkups, your doctor will perform routine blood tests to check for certain conditions. These include anemia, diabetes, hepatitis B, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy.

Pap Smear

A Pap smear is a requirement for every expectant mother. It determines the presence of cervical cancer or of cells that may possibly progress into cancer in the future.

During a Pap smear, your doctor will take a swab of sample cells from your cervix. It is a painless procedure, but you may feel some discomfort or pressure in your vagina.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is a common prenatal procedure. You may undergo this test several times throughout your pregnancy for different reasons. For instance, your doctor will request a transvaginal ultrasound during your initial checkup. This will confirm the pregnancy and help the doctor plot an estimated due date.

You’ll get a second ultrasound around 18 to 20 weeks to check on your baby’s growth. It also ensures that his or her organs are developing well.

During an ultrasound, you need to lie on your back while your health-care provider applies lubricant all over your belly. Then, he or she will place a wand or an ultrasound device (attached with a specialized ultrasound transducer) on certain parts of your abdomen. It helps project an image of your baby into the monitor.

Genetic Screening Tests: Ruling Out Birth Defects

Your doctor may recommend other prenatal tests that aren’t routine. These include genetic screening tests. These tests spot signs that your baby is at risk for birth defects or genetic disorders.

Not all women may undergo these procedures, but you’re likely to get one for these reasons:

  • You’re aged 35 or older
  • You’ve had a baby with a birth defect or born prematurely
  • You  have a genetic disorder within your family
  • You had a past miscarriage or stillborn baby
  • You have medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or autoimmune disorders
  • You had preeclampsia in previous pregnancies

Integrated Screening

An integrated screening involves two phases.

First, doctors will get an ultrasound focused on your baby’s neck. Then they will look at the blood tests you got between weeks 11 and 14. Next, your doctor will take a second blood sample between weeks 16 and 18.

The results determine if your baby is at risk for Down syndrome and spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spine and spinal cord are not well developed.

Sequential Screening

Sequential screening is like integrated screening, but the results are assessed right after the first phase during weeks 11 to 14. Although it’s not as accurate as the integrated screening, it helps the doctor know the baby’s risk earlier. If the result is positive, your doctor will request more tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

A CVS determines your baby’s risk for Down syndrome and other genetic disorders, but you may not need this test. Only high-risk women who had a positive screening test for a birth defect may get it.

During a CVS, doctors will insert a small tube into the vagina to take a small placental sample. Otherwise, they will take it using a needle through the belly.

While a CVS provides accurate results, it also puts you at risk for a miscarriage. Talk to your doctor about having the procedure if you have doubts.  

Conclusion

Prenatal test results can influence major health-care decisions. If you do get a positive result from these procedures, know that it’s only possible for your baby to have a disorder. Until it’s proven through other confirmatory tests, you need not worry. At the end of the day, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the results to put your mind at ease.

Photo URL: https://media.istockphoto.com/photos/doctor-doing-ultrasound-scan-for-pregnant-woman-picture-id653893266?k=6&m=653893266&s=612×612&w=0&h=stsXWIz4Mz7xUPzbHHWxp5o6aM3zJuNAjflqw79tT_I= 

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