Pregnancy involves various changes in your body and the life. The duration of 9 months of gestation will include endless series of prenatal tests. It is essential for you to undergo the tests to ascertain your and the baby’s well-being. As the expectant mother, you must understand the importance of the tests during pregnancy.
From being a solitary cell to rapidly dividing into a fertilized egg, implantation and conception involve a significant transformation. The fertilization of the sperm and the egg will lead to the formation of the embryo and the placenta formation occurs. There will be rapid growth and development taking place in the fetus, facilitated by the secretion of the different hormones, during the initial weeks of conception.
For most women, especially those who aren’t planning to get pregnant, the earliest symptoms and signs of pregnancy go unnoticed. In fact, even the 2nd week of pregnancy will be undetected by maximum women. However, there are many signs and symptoms to confirm the pregnancy, as follows:
- Missing the monthly periods
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Mood swings
- Irritability and anxiety
- Frequent urination
- Formation of gas
- Tenderness in breasts
- Sore and achy breasts
- Enlargement of the nipples
- Darkening of the nipples
- Morning sickness
- Implantation bleeding
- Food Aversions
- Heightened sense of smell
- Headaches and body pains
- Back pain
- Cramping in lower abdomen
Positive Pregnancy Tests:
Many tests can be carried out to confirm the pregnancy. Pregnancy tests can either be performed at home, by the non-medical ways and also through the pregnancy test kits. The earliest pregnancy tests which will be positive around the 5th week of conception are as follows:
- Pregnancy test kits, which give the results as per the content of the hormone HCG in the urine.
- Stored urine test
- Toothpaste test
- Wheat and barley test
- Bleach test
- Baking soda test
- Soap solution test
- Vinegar test
- Sugar test
- Mustard test
- Pine sol test
Understanding The Results Of The Pregnancy Tests:
- After conception, the level of the hormone HCG will increase in the body and can be detected in the urine as well as the blood of the expectant mother.
- It is crucial to understand that testing very early, might give you a false negative result.
- Negative results can be due to the low content of HCG in the urine of the expectant woman.
- The accuracy of the tests during pregnancy will increase as you reach the day of the period.
- Most gynecologists will suggest you wait for at least 5 days to a week after the missed period for pregnancy confirmation.
- Sometimes, you can get a faint pink line in the groove for positive pregnancy testing. It is a sign of a very early and weak pregnancy.
- You need to use the first morning urine sample for conducting the tests, as the concentration of the HCG in the urine will be high.
- It will hold true for both the non-medical ways of pregnancy testing as well as using the home pregnancy test kit.
- It is essential to discard the first urine and use only the midstream urine sample for performing the tests.
- Home ingredients such as bleach, baking soda, vinegar, pine sol, etc. might damage the lungs, by the emission of vapors from it or a fizzy reaction on mixing.
- The tests using the ingredients such as bleach, baking soda, vinegar, pine sol, etc. must be performed in a well-ventilated room or an open area.
- Utmost care and precaution must be taken while performing the home tests.
First Trimester Testing:
Tests during the first trimester of pregnancy are essential. The tests to take during pregnancy will determine the risks of diseases and congenital disabilities in the developing fetus. The various tests carried out during the 1st trimester will be a combination of fetal scanning and blood screening, as follows:
Many blood tests are performed during pregnancy. The testing will involve a small prick with a needle into the vein of the arm. Blood will be extracted from the arm with a syringe. The various tests are as follows:
- Immunity to Rubella
- Immunity to chicken pox
- Hepatitis B
- Hemoglobin Level
- Rh status
- Blood grouping
- Exposure to toxoplasmosis
Ultrasound scanning is carried out to confirm the pregnancy and to calculate the due date.
A urine sample is collected as a test for checking various things as follows:
- To check for urinary tract infections
- To check for kidney problems
- To check the level of HCG
- To test for the presence of glucose in the urine
NOTE: The placenta produces the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone during early pregnancy. Abnormal levels of HCG will depict a risk of Chromosomal Abnormality.
Plasma Protein Screening (PAPP-A):
The plasma protein screening is carried out to ascertain the average levels of chromosomes in the body. Any genetic disorder can be ruled out through the plasma protein screening.
The nuchal translucency ultrasound scanning is done to check for the presence of Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21) and Trisomy 18. The area at the back of the neck of the fetus is checked for thickening or the presence of fluid.
Results Of 1st Trimester Screening:
The tests during pregnancy are vital to check for the proper growth and development of the baby. It is a routine procedure, and all the tests will be recommended by the Gynecologist, even if you don’t have a family history of any congenital disabilities.
If the results of the 1st trimester screening are abnormal, the Gynecologist will recommend Genetic counseling. Further investigations to obtain an accurate diagnosis will include the following:
- Chorionic Villus Sampling
- Cell-free Fetal DNA
- Ultrasound Scanning
Second Trimester Tests During Pregnancy:
As you move ahead into the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, you can get a bit relaxed. The initial 3 months of pregnancy will be crucial. The chances of spontaneous abortion and miscarriage will be high during the first few weeks. Once you enter into the 2nd trimester, the chances of miscarriage will be reduced by almost 50%. However, there are certain vital tests in pregnancy which need to be carried out during the 2nd trimester, as follows:
- Triple Marker Test
- Quadruple Marker Test
- Blood tests to check for
- Spinal Tube defects
- Downs Syndrome
- Gestational Diabetes by checking the blood sugar levels
- Urine tests to check for
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Ultrasound Scanning
Ultrasound scanning is one of the most important tests during pregnancy. Scanning is carried throughout pregnancy for:
- Ensuring the growth of the baby to be in the normal range as per the week and trimester of pregnancy.
- Confirming the presence of multiple fetuses.
- Measuring the length of the cervix.
- Checking the fetal movements.
- Development of all the vital organs of the body.
Tests During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy:
As you progress into the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, you will be getting closer to the delivery date. You have completed the two trimesters of pregnancy and just left with the last trimester. The last few weeks will be crucial and involve the following tests during pregnancy:
Scanning is carried out during the last trimester of pregnancy, to check for the following:
- The level of amniotic fluid.
- The growth of the baby.
- The measurements of the thigh bones, the head, and the midsection.
- The position of the baby in the uterus for determining whether you can have a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section.
- The fetal heartbeat.
- The well-being of the fetus.
- The location of the placenta.
- The measurement of the cervix.
Urine tests are carried out during the last trimester of pregnancy to check for the following:
- Urinary Tract Infections
Blood tests are performed during pregnancy to check for the following:
- Sugar levels
- Iron levels
Test for Group B Streptococcus bacteria is carried out to rule out any bacterial infection in the vagina and the rectum.
Fetal heartbeat monitoring is done throughout the pregnancy using a Doppler. A Doppler is a hand-held device, used to check the fetal heart rate and movements.
It is crucial for a pregnant woman to understand her weeks and the months of pregnancy. Following a pregnancy calendar will aid in understanding the week by week development of the baby. It will be beneficial for you to follow the health tips and the nutrition required according to the weeks of gestation. The various tests during pregnancy can also be determined as per the week of pregnancy as follows:
|1st Trimester||Month 1||1 to 4 weeks|
|Month 2||5 to 8 weeks|
|Month 3||9 to 13 weeks|
|Month 4||14 to 17 weeks|
|Month 5||18 to 21 weeks|
|Month 6||22 to 26 weeks|
|Month 7||27 to 30 weeks|
|Month 8||31 to 35 weeks|
|Month 9||36 to 40 weeks|
Important Points To Remember During Pregnancy:
- The numerous tests during pregnancy will differ for different women, the standard tests being the same.
- You might be required to undergo the tests as per your health condition and the growth of the baby, as per the previous test reports.
- There are no particular best pregnancy tests.
- All the tests are essential to make sure that you and the baby are safe.
- The exact number and the frequency of the tests will depend upon the complications.
- The frequency of the ultrasound scanning will also vary, depending upon the complications.
- You might be required to undergo frequent tests considering your family medical history.
- If you had previously had a miscarriage, history of children with birth defects, or gestational diabetes during the previous pregnancies, etc. then you will have to undergo certain tests during pregnancy to rule out the problems.
- The gynecologist will prescribe you certain medications as follows:
- Folic Acid
- Magnesium and zinc
- The medications prescribed by the gynecologist will help in the proper development of the baby, hence must never be missed!
- The first trimester of pregnancy is the most crucial stage of the development of the vital organs in the body of the baby.
- It is paramount to keep in mind that strenuous exercising or overdoing anything can be dangerous during pregnancy.
Understanding The Tests During Pregnancy:
- Amniocentesis is one of the crucial tests during pregnancy, done if the marker tests show anomaly.
- The markers will provide information about the risk of the baby having any birth disorders.
- It is an invasive test.
- It rules out the presence of any genetic disorder.
- Screening involves taking a blood sample from the expectant woman between the 15th and the 20th week of pregnancy.
- A small sample of the amniotic fluid, surrounding the fetus, is collected and tested during amniocentesis.
Alpha-Fetoprotein Screening (AFP):
The blood test will incorporate the measurement of the AFP in the mother’s blood during pregnancy. AFP is the protein which is produced by the liver of the fetus. The AFP can be found in the amniotic fluid.
Abnormal levels of the AFP can signal problems as follows:
- Open Neural Tube Defects
- Spina Bifida
- Downs Syndrome
- Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Abdominal wall defects of the fetus
- A miscalculated due date
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS):
- CVS is a prenatal screening test during pregnancy.
- It involves the collection of a sample of the placental tissue.
- The placental tissue will carry the same genetic material as that of the fetus.
- The collected tissue is tested for chromosomal abnormalities and presence of genetic defects.
- However, CVS can’t provide the information about the neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida.
- After the CVs, most women will be required to undergo a follow-up blood test during the 18th week of pregnancy.
- Fetal monitoring is carried out to monitor the fetal heart rate, the rhythm of the heartbeat and heart functioning.
- The monitoring is prescribed during late pregnancy or during labor.
- The average fetal heart rate will be between 110 to 10 beats per minute.
- There can be variations in the heart rate of the fetus depending on the conditions in the uterus.
- The abnormal heartbeat of the fetus will denote that the fetus is getting insufficient oxygen or any other problem.
- It is essential to undergo an emergency cesarean delivery if there is an abnormal pattern of the fetal heartbeat.
- It is thus essential to carry out fetal monitoring as one of the most crucial tests during pregnancy.
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You must follow the advice of your gynecologist once you confirm the news of being pregnant to have a safe and sound pregnancy. Meet your gynecologist the moment you confirm the news of your pregnancy. Take proper care, nutrition for nourishment, and precaution through the days of gestation.
If you get a confirmation about being pregnant, it is important to take proper rest and care. Never miss the ultrasound scanning as advised by the Gynecologist. All the prenatal tests during pregnancy prescribed by the doctor will be essential and necessary.
It is essential to give the complete and accurate information about your medical history and the medical history of your family, to rule out various complications during your pregnancy!