Getting pregnant is the beginning of the most precious moments of life. Nature has created a human body in such a way that it is intrinsically designed with intelligence to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. Yet, it is imperative to make conscious healthy choices at this time to ensure well-being during the various transitions of growth. One of them is taking the right tests at the right times along with regular check-ups.
In fact, since the time you hear those tiny heartbeats till the playful kicks in those 40 weeks, various tests are prescribed by a doctor depending on each case. Other than that, the following tests are essential to ensure the health of mother and baby:
First Trimester (Week 1 to 12)
The fertilized egg develops into an embryo and keeps growing. The tests include:
- Ultrasound evaluation to affirm the baby’s heartbeat and identifying any risk for chromosomal abnormalities. Talk to your doctor if you experience excessive nausea, high fever, swelling, pain during urination, etc.
- Blood tests are done to know blood group, iron levels, blood sugar, RhD factor and to rule out the risks of Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and Syphilis.
- Urine Tests to detect glucose, albumin, kidney infections and measure hCG level.
Second Trimester (week 13 to 27)
This phase is characterized by growing belly and breasts, Braxton Hicks contractions, changes in skin, dental sensitivities, dizziness and leg cramps. Nausea subsides and the baby’s first movements are felt. Following tests are performed:
- Ultrasound is done to check the placement of the placenta in the uterus and ensure normal development of the baby. Be ready to be thrilled as you can see the baby’s body parts now.
- Fetal Doppler ultrasound may be conducted using sound waves to determine the blood flow to placenta and fetus.
- Blood tests or triple screen tests are conducted for hCG, estriol and AFP (a protein produced by the fetus) to detect fetal abnormalities like down syndrome, spina bifida.
- Amniocentesis tests are performed if the triple screen tests are suspicious. The test is to analyze neural tube defects and genetic disorders.
Third Trimester (Week 28 to 40)
Baby’s body and brain grow fast, forming bones, hair, skin, and nails. The mother may experience fatigue, heartburn, backache, etc. It is important to eat well, keep moving and schedule your appointments with the doctor.
- Fetal heart monitoring : After 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is important to monitor the heart rate of the fetus to ensure its well-being.
- Group B Streptococcus screening: In order to detect the Group B Strep bacteria, which may be the cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, vaginal and rectal swabs are taken. If positive, it is treated with antibiotics.
- Contraction stress test to anticipate baby’s endurance with the stress of labor. The heart rate of the baby is measured in response to the stimulated contractions by oxytocin or nipple stimulation.
Have a joyful and healthy pregnancy!