Understanding Prenatal Tests

Childbirth is an ancient human practice, but one the most important changes happen in the prenatal testing field. Now, we have the chance to know important facts about our child before the delivery.

Prenatal tests fall into two major categories: Diagnostic and screening. It is important to know differences between those terms because they may tell you something essential about your prenatal test results.

• Diagnostic tests: They are highly accurate and often can give you dependable answers. A pregnancy test can be considered as a diagnostic test, either you are pregnant or not. Medical decisions are only made if doctors can get definite results of diagnostic tests.

• Screening tests: They tell you the risk or likelihood of a problem, these tests tell you if something has gone wrong. But they can’t give you a definite answer. A positive result can only put you in a group of higher-risk people who may have a particular medical problem. For example, the doctor may tell you that your AFP (alpha fetoprotein) test indicates a possibility of spina bifida. Of course, it is disconcerting news. But because it is only a screening test, then it doesn’t say your child has this disease, the AFP test only indicates that there is a higher risk that he might. Additional tests (usually the more specialized and accurate diagnostic type) will be performed to investigate this possibility.

This is the benefit of screening tests, they may detect the likelihood of trouble months before the delivery, so that parents can investigate further and make proper actions. At the same time, test results often cause a good deal of worry and stress over nothing.

Routine Tests

These are basic prenatal tests, which will be performed by the doctor during your visits. These include a weight evaluation, blood pressure, blood, and urine.

Weight

The nurse will ask you to take off your clothing, rings, earrings, barrettes, shoes, and maybe even your underwear, this is particularly true if the hospital use a highly accurate digital scale. Although you will gain weight each month during pregnancy, the normal total gain should be around 30 pounds. And the weight gain chart will be closely monitored by your doctor.

Although you can’t be sure how much weight you’ll gain each month, a common rule says it should be around 3 pounds in the first trimester; three pounds a month for the second and third trimesters. Your doctor will be watching closely for an abrupt weight gain, which, when come with excessive swelling, might indicate trouble. Women who fail to gain enough weight, are in danger of having poorly developed babies.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is regularly tested. The test is simple but it is critical. The first measurement is used as the baseline figure to compare with subsequent measurements. A sudden blood pressure increase can indicate pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy hypertension.

Blood Tests

Your doctor may ask for blood test for every few months, to get better insight in your progressive condition. The blood is usually taken from your elbow. A blood test can offer the following information.

1. Blood group: Your blood group could be A, B, or O. It is important if you need blood transfusion during the delivery.

2. Rh (Rhesus) factor: Your Rh blood group may be positive or negative. It is important to note if the mother’s Rh factor is negative and the father’s is positive. Because there is a possibility that the baby is incompatible with the mother’s Rhesus factor.

3. Hemoglobin: It keeps red cells enriched with oxygen. Hemoglobin levels usually fall during pregnancy and cause anemia; your health-care provider will want to ensure your levels are still acceptable.

4. Your immunity to German measles (rubella): If you don’t have enough immunity to this illness, you’ll be asked to avoid exposures during the first trimester.

5. Sexually transmitted diseases: Because STDs can cause many complications for the developing baby, it is important to know whether you have hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV.

Urine Tests

A few months before the delivery, you will be asked to pee into that little cup. Urine can give the doctor this information:

1) Infection,

2) Sugar, which is a sign of diabetes and

3) Protein, which is a sign of hypertension.

Glucose Screening

Many women undergo a glucose screening test weeks before pregnancy to gauge risk of gestational diabetes. The doctor may prescribe a glucose screening if:

You have previously delivered overweight baby.

You are obese (more than 20% of ideal body weight).

You are 35 and above.

Your have hypertension symptoms.

You have a diabetic in your family.

Gestational diabetes screening isn’t painful, but it can be time-consuming, however. You start the test by drinking a sugar solution (which may taste like a thick cola, without the soda). An hour later, your blood sample is examined to check for the glucose sample. If the reading indicates a problem, you will be asked to return in later dates for a diagnostic exam to accurately verify the results. High glucose reading on your first test shouldn’t make you worried too much, because about 85% of women with positive results have normal blood glucose levels after a screening test. If you previously have gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to check your condition early during the pregnancy. Your doctor or nutritionist can then help in developing an exercise and diet program that may keep your problem in check while safeguarding the health of the baby. The doctor may also prescribe low dose of insulin if necessary. Discovering that you have gestational diabetes is certainly disconcerting, but it shouldn’t cause a great alarm. Many women who have diabetes during pregnancy may return to have normal blood glucose level after delivering a healthy baby. Be aware, that although in many cases, gestational diabetes will go away after the delivery, some women eventually develop full-fledged diabetes in a decade or so. This is an issue you’ll need to watch out for at annual follow-up tests.

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