Every parent dreams and hopes for a perfectly healthy and smooth pregnancy and a happy healthy baby. As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed and you plan to visit your doctor, you will be administered to a series of tests and procedures that will continue till the ninth month.
Prenatal tests are one of the best ways to check on the health and well being of the baby as well as the mother. These tests are extremely important as they help keep a careful monitoring on the fetal health and play a big role in ruling out any major risks or threat to the pregnancy.
Importance Of Prenatal Tests
Prenatal tests are vital these days with the on start of every pregnancy and at every stage during these nine months. Prenatal tests are the only means to identify health issues in the fetus or the mother that can be treated easily before the bay comes out. Some of the tests also determine the fetal details that include your baby’s weight, height, sex, age and its position in the uterus.
It is through these tests only your doctor may come to know about any chromosomal or genetic problem or any other fetal abnormality. It is not necessary that all the prenatal abnormalities can be cured or treated but most of them can be easily diagnosed by the tests.
Apart from finding details of your baby’s health, many of these prenatal diagnosis and screenings also help find out problems regarding mother’s health. This also counts her previous history of diseases so that the same can be controlled or cured in this phase of pregnancy and the baby is not affected by the ailment. Here are a few important tests done in each trimester to screen the baby’s and mother’s health.
First Trimester Tests
The first trimester of pregnancy, needless to say is the most crucial phase of being pregnant. It is the time when the overall development of your baby’s body starts and there are major changes in the mother’s body also. According to the medical science this is the best time for the tests and screening as they reveal a lot what has begun just now.
Routine Blood Tests:
The first step includes a routine examination of the blood to check the blood type, Rh factor, If you are a carrier of Rh negative and the baby inherits a Rh positive from the father then it can build antibodies that may subsequently harm the baby.
This problem can be resolved by injecting the mother with an injection of anti-D globulin after the birth. Blood tests also reveal to see if you are anemic or immune to rubella, chickenpox, or any other harmful disease that may pass on to the baby.
Your doctor may ask you to submit a urine sample in the lab for a detailed urine analysis. This includes a check for urinary tract infections, presence of pus cells in urine, any kidney infections or a growth of any bacteria through a urine culture examination.
This is one of the most important tests to rule out presence of Human Immune deficiency Syndrome Virus in your body that may be the carrier of AIDS. If you are tested positive than you are diagnosed positive with this you may pass on the infection to the baby.
One of the most important tests that is done in 12th week of pregnancy to detect Down’s syndrome. It involves the insertion of a needle into the uterus and a little amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. The cells of this fluid are further studied for the chromosomal defects and other abnormalities. There are 1 in 300 possibilities of Down’s syndrome in women above 35 hence it becomes necessary to conduct this test.
NTS( Nuchal Translucency Screening):
This test is conducted between 12th and 14th week of pregnancy and is a part of first trimester screening and ultrasound. This test is also related to the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and chromosomal defects more common in mothers above the age of 35. Other screenings are done to assess the risks of thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and other such genetic disorders.
Second Trimester Tests
It is done by taking the urine sample to check the level of protein as it may give rise to pre-eclampsia, a medical condition that may put the baby at risk as it interferes with proper and healthy functioning of placenta, the tube that provides nutrition to the baby. A urine test will also examine the risks of UTI again in second trimester.
GCT(Glucose Screening Tests) And GTT(Glucose Tolerance Test):
This test is conducted anytime between 24th and 27th week of pregnancy to assess the risk of one of the commonest pregnancy related problems, Gestational Diabetes.
It is done by making the patient drink a thick glucose solution and then 3 blood sugar readings are taken by taking the blood at different hours, which show the glucose tolerance levels of the body. If the values are on the higher side, Gestational Diabetes is confirmed then the patient may be administered Insulin and a strict diet control.
Second trimester ultrasounds are important as they help assess the baby’s growth chart, weight, physical abnormalities, heart rate, size of the organs, level of amniotic fluid and other fetal features to monitor the fetal development in the uterus. Also these scans are necessary to calculate the correct due date of the baby and its growth calendar.
Urine And Blood Routine Tests:
Third trimester tests again include the urine and blood sample tests to reconfirm the previous conditions of UTI and pre-eclampsia and few other conditions.
Also, if you tested positive for gestational diabetes, your specialist may again ask you to go for a second and final GTT(Glucose tolerance test) to check the blood sugar levels in the body. Also the doctor would ask you to get the hemoglobin level of the blood to rule out third trimester anemia which is very common.
If your baby is doing fine then you get a green signal, but if there is a problem with placental functioning or growth retardation then the doctor would put you on a NST machine to check your baby’s activity and its reactions to ensure that the baby is doing well inside.