Obstetrics: An Overview of Popular Prenatal Tests
The word “test” is enough to inspire anxiety in a lot of our patients. After all, they’ve spent their whole lives learning that a test is something you can fail! When the test in question involves the health of your new baby, the prospect can seem even more nerve-wracking.
At Women’s Health of Augusta, our obstetrics team ensures that every expectant parent understands what to expect, from their first prenatal visit to their sweet baby’s delivery day. If you’re nervous about your prenatal care, the right team can make all the difference.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to the common and optional prenatal tests you’ll experience during your pregnancy journey. We’ve found that transparency can make the process more comfortable for everyone involved.
In other words, consider this your “study guide” for your upcoming tests, and you’re sure to “pass” with flying colors! Read on to learn all there is to know about routine and genetic testing.
Common Prenatal Tests
Your obstetrician wants to ensure that you and your baby are as healthy as possible during your pregnancy. Proper care and observation will involve a lot of new and unfamiliar diagnostic tests and tools. Below, we’ll describe the exams and procedures that most doctors require during a healthy pregnancy.
Routine Blood Tests
During your first trimester of pregnancy, your doctor will take a blood sample. They will look for specific diseases and illnesses that can impact your pregnancy. These can include:
- HIV or AIDS
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Certain STIs
If your bloodwork shows you have any of the above conditions, your doctor can help make referrals and get you treatment. They will have the necessary information to accommodate these conditions during your care.
Your doctor will also take a blood sample to determine your Complete Blood Count or CBC. They will be looking at the number of types of cells in your blood, which can help them spot conditions like anemia.
During initial blood testing, your doctor will be able to tell you your blood type.
Your team will also check to see if your blood contains the Rh factor. This information can ensure your body does not create antibodies that can harm your baby. If you are Rh negative, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent this.
Urinalysis and Urine Culture
Your doctor will most likely request a urine sample during your first prenatal appointment. This test will look for signs of infection or sugar in the urine. This sample will serve as a baseline as your pregnancy progresses.
If your doctor finds signs of a UTI, you will receive antibiotics. This medication will not harm your baby.
During your second trimester, your doctor will order a Glucose Screening test to look for signs of gestational diabetes. During the test, a technician will give you a sweet drink. They will then test your blood to see your body’s insulin response in action.
Depending on the results, your doctor might order a second glucose test. If the test shows you have gestational diabetes, you will receive medication and dietary counseling.
A sonogram (or ultrasound) is a painless, noninvasive imaging test used to monitor your baby in utero. You will likely have a minimum of two ultrasounds during your pregnancy.
The first sonogram will be during the first trimester. This test will help identify your due date.
The second sonogram will occur during the 18th through 22nd week of pregnancy. Most doctors call this the anatomy scan. This is an exciting test for many new parents, as they may learn the biological sex of their new baby.
Some doctors schedule more frequent ultrasound tests, especially for high-risk mothers. Ask your doctor about how many sonograms you can expect to receive during your pregnancy.
Group B Streptococcus Screening
During the third trimester, your doctor will take a GBS culture to look for bacteria known as Group B Streptococcus. If present in the vaginal or rectal area, it can pass to your baby during delivery. Your doctor will take a swab of the site and send it to the lab for analysis.
If your doctor finds GBS present in your sample, you will receive IV antibiotics during labor.
Optional Prenatal Tests
Many prenatal tests are optional but can help new parents find peace of mind. You will usually complete a survey to identify your risk factors during your first trimester. Your doctor might use that information to recommend certain optional genetic screening tests.
During this test, a doctor will use a thin needle to withdraw some amniotic fluid from within your uterus. Your doctor will send this fluid to the lab for analysis. It can help you find certain birth defects such as Down’s syndrome and muscular dystrophy.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
During CVS testing, a doctor will take a small tissue sample from your placenta. It can provide much of the same information as amniocentesis, though the odds of complications are higher. You might choose this test if you need to confirm genetic information as early in your pregnancy as possible.
Start Your Journey at Augusta’s Choice for Obstetrics
Working with a trustworthy obstetrics team is the key to feeling secure and supported on your prenatal journey.
Women’s Health of Augusta employs the most compassionate and knowledgeable professionals to ensure you’ll always know what’s coming next. They will guide you through your prenatal care and testing and help provide the thoughtful information you need to make the best choices for your baby.
We’d love to welcome you and your baby to the Women’s Health of Augusta family. Contact us today so we can answer any questions you have about the above prenatal tests. We’ll help set up an appointment so you can begin building a relationship with a caring, trustworthy obstetrician.