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14 – Great Expectations

Throughout your entire pregnancy, the health of you and your baby is your healthcare provider’s main concern. Thanks to medical technology, new and innovative tests are available to carefully monitor your health and the progress of your baby. Today, many fetal problems can be detected and treated while the baby is still in the womb. The different prenatal tests at times can be confusing, especially to frst-time mothers. Your healthcare provider has 2 categories for tests – screening and diagnostic. Screening tests provide the opportunity to identify a potential problem.

Diagnostic testing examines this potential problem to determine if it is in fact an abnormality.

Several screening tests are performed on all pregnant mothers, regardless of family history and risk factors. Others are only used for mothers considered to be high-risk (age at pregnancy, ethnic background, etc.). If a screening test indicates the possibility of an abnormality, your healthcare provider will most likely order related diag­ nostic tests. Diagnostic tests may carry additional risks and are not considered routine for all pregnant mothers.

During your initial offce visit, blood will be drawn to determine blood type, whether you are Rh positive or negative, and to see if antibodies are in your blood. Rh negative mothers will be re-screened to determine if antibodies are in the blood at 24 to 28 weeks. If no antibodies are detected, an Rh immunoglobulin injection will be recommended. Usually, with your consent, testing will be done for certain sexually-transmitted diseases such as syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV. In addition, a Pap test is usually done to screen for cervical cancer.

A urine sample will be taken to determine the presence of bacteria which could lead to an infection of the bladder or kidney. The urine sample will also provide an opportunity to determine if there is a high level of sugar or protein in your system. An elevated level might require a glucose screening for diabetes or an evaluation for possible kidney disease.

The following sections outline the most common prenatal testing and evaluation techniques. Please take the time to visit with your healthcare provider regarding these important tests.

Routine Tests

The following tests are considered routine and are performed on most pregnant mothers.

Keeping Track of Your Baby

Prenatal Testing

Today, many fetal problems can be detected and treated while the baby is still in the womb. So, expectant mothers with complicating factors such as advanced age, can rest easier knowing that these tools are available.

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