Prenatal tests are one of the many ways to check on your well-being and that of your growing baby. Find out what you can expect from basic pregnancy tests and why you might choose to have an amnio or CVS test. Plus, find out everything you need to know about ultrasounds. Schedule an appointment with our expert staff and begin your pregnancy journey on the right foot.
Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation — and, sometimes, anxiety. You might worry that your baby will have health problems. While most babies are born healthy, it’s important to understand your options for obtaining details about your baby’s health.
What does Prenatal Testing Do?
Prenatal tests are one of the many ways your healthcare practitioner will check on the well-being of you and your growing baby. As you move along in your pregnancy, these testing methods will change to provide the best insight to the development of your baby.
At your first prenatal visit, your practitioner will give you a thorough physical, including a pelvic exam. You’ll have a Pap smear (unless you’ve had one recently) to check for abnormal cells. You may also have a culture to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Some women will have an ultrasound in their provider’s office during their first prenatal visit to confirm the pregnancy and the baby’s due date.
Next, you’ll have routine blood tests to identify your blood type and Rh status, as well as a blood count to check for anemia.
The lab will also test your blood for:
- Hepatitis B
- Immunity to German measles (rubella)
- Immunity to chickenpox – if you’re not sure whether you’ve ever had the illness or been vaccinated against it.
During each of your second-trimester prenatal visits, your practitioner may ask you for a urine sample to screen for signs of preeclampsia, urinary tract infections, and other conditions.
Most practitioners routinely order an ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks to check for physical abnormalities. You’ll have the option of undergoing amniocentesis, an invasive genetic diagnostic test done at about 16 to 20 weeks. Amniocentesis can tell you for sure whether your baby has Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects, and certain genetic disorders. Some women wait for the results of first-trimester and second-trimester screening tests before deciding whether to have an amniocentesis.