In Part 1 of our Pregnancy Medical Tests, we mentioned the most common invasive tests that are usually ordered for women with high-risk pregnancies. We even included how each test is performed and what they test for. Invasive tests would not be expected for low-risk pregnancies, unless, it is requested by the patient for paternal reasons. In this case an amniocentesis can be performed. Women with low-risk or high-risk pregnancies can expect none invasive tests every routine prenatal visit. Which again are performed without going into the body for biological samples.
Medical test and screenings are part of Prenatal Care, which also includes education and counseling about how to handle different aspects of pregnancy, discuss healthy eating habits, physical activity, and what to expect during labor and delivery.
Please note: This information will not affect how one may plan their birth, but instead, inspire you to self educate regarding pregnancy in general! So you’ll know what to expect and feel confident each step of the way!
NONE-INVASIVE PRENATAL TESTING (NIPT)
Also called, Cell-free DNA test. For this test a blood sample is needed. It tests for;
Fetal DNA for risks of Down syndrome
- Extra chromosomes (Trisomy 13 or 18)
- Sex chromosome abnormality (like Turner syndrome)
- It can even check baby’s sex and rhesus (Rh) blood type.
NUCHAL TRANSLUCENCY SCREEN
Nuchal is pronounced nyook-al. This test measures nuchal fold thickness on the back of the baby’s neck. When a baby has Down syndrome or other genetic problems, this area appears thicker. Using an ultrasound the baby’s neck is measured around 10-14 weeks of pregnancy.
Are tests done during the first and second trimesters. They are a combination of maternal blood draws plus an ultrasound. The four main tests are:
*Combined first trimester screen – Blood test plus ultrasound exam.
- Tests for Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 and 18.
*Second trimester single screen – blood test for neural tube defects.
*Second trimester quad screen – blood test for Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), Edward’s syndromes (Trisomy 18), spinal bifida, and Anencephaly.
*Cervical Length Measurement – For this test an ultrasound is used to measure the length of the cervix to prevent pre-term birth. Women with short cervixes at or before 32 weeks could go into pre-term labor (about 50% of women with short cervixes go in pre-term labor). The average cervix length at around 24 weeks is 3.5 cm. If a woman’s cervix measurement is less that 2.2 cm, pre-term labor is likely. The test is done three ways:
Test is done after the second trimester.
SPECIALIZED OR TARGETED ULTRASOUND
There are different ultrasounds;
*Specialized Ultrasound: Looks at suspected fetal problems. This ultrasound is more advanced and can be much longer than normal (About 45 minutes to 1 hour).
*3-D Ultrasound: Analyzes fetal growth development, facial abnormalities, or neural tube defects.
*Doppler Ultrasound: Uses high-frequency sound waves to measure the circulation of blood flow in fetal vessels as well as the uterus and placenta.
*Fetal Echocardiography: Pronounced, “Echo-card-ee-og-ra-fee.” Used to obtain images of the baby’s heart to confirm or rule out heart defects.
PRENATAL LAB WORK AND TEST
- Blood type, Rh factor, and antibody screening
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Rubella immunity
- Hepatitis B and C testing
- Syphilis screening
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing
- Vitamin D
Is a small external monitor that is strapped to the belly. It monitors fetal heart rate, breathing, movements, and muscle tone.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I wish I knew before hand this information. I didn’t know what to expect. I was about to become a very young mother, and already I felt intimidated and overwhelmed with all that I had to know. But it doesn’t have to be the same for you! Never depend on anyone to feed you information. Feed yourself. Use your resources. Visit your local library, link up with credible informational websites like, WebMD, Baby Center etc… or join the free classes, programs, that your local hospital, WIC or Doctor’s office has to offer! The whole point is, knowledge is power! And when you know better, you do better!
“Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good…” ~Proverbs 19:2
“And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times…” ~Isaiah 33:6
“For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:12
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” ~II Timothy 2:15