Prenatal Testing

As a first time expectant mother, the more you read, the more confused you may be. There are so many prenatal tests-how do you know which ones are indicated for you and which ones you're better off avoiding? At your prenatal examination, you will be advised concerning the various tests. Here's a rundown of the various general tests prescribed with a short explanation of each:

Blood Tests

These are performed as a matter of routine during the first trimester and later on should complications arise. The blood test will report your blood type which will be either A, B, AB, or O. The test will also determine whether you are RH negative or positive. This is important because if the mother does not have the RH factor and the baby does, problems can arise.

Blood tests will also measure levels of glucose, iron, and hemoglobin. If blood sugar (glucose) is high, then it may be an indication of diabetes. The health care professional will order a glucose tolerance test if there is a concern. The blood test will reveal if your blood is low in iron. Low numbers do not necessarily mean that you are anemic, but it does make you more susceptible for anemia. If your levels are low, your healthcare provider may prescribe iron tablets or injections. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying power of your red blood cells. The expected level is between 12 to 14 grams. A treatment for anemia will be prescribed if your level falls below 10 grams.

Blood tests can diagnose sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a parasite found in the solid waste of cats. It can be contracted through eating infected, undercooked meat or by eating contaminated fruits. Toxoplasmosis is harmless to you, but it may cross the placenta and cause harm to the baby. Blood tests also evaluate whether or not you are immune to rubella, a serious danger to an unborn baby. Blood tests pose no risks and are routine.

Paternity Testing

This test may be indicated if you have had more than one partner. The results may help you obtain financial or emotional support from the baby's father as well as social security, veterans', and inheritance benefits. The test may also help provide medical history and insight in diagnosing or managing your child's health. Testing is expensive but results are available within the week.

If you decide to have paternity testing it's best to do this as early in the pregnancy as is possible for various legal reasons. The earliest paternity testing can be done by the 10th week of pregnancy. Some of the tests used to establish paternity carry a risk. Check with your doctor about potential risks.

Urine Test

Urine tests are a routine part of your prenatal care and are carried out as part of your first prenatal exam and every so often during future visits. It's quite normal for your physician to check your urine at each prenatal visit. The urine test is used to screen expectant moms for bladder and kidney infections, diabetes, dehydration, and preeclampsia. High levels of sugar, protein, ketones, and bacteria may suggest one or another of these conditions to your health care provider.


Ultrasounds testing are considered necessary only where there is a specific medical concern. Each health care provider determines the number of ultrasound pregnancies performed during a healthy pregnancy. Ultrasound tests are used to diagnose abnormalities and conditions seen in pregnancy. Other tests may be administered in combination with the ultrasound to obtain a proper diagnosis. Ultrasound testing is noninvasive and has not been shown to cause fetal harm when performed according to accepted standards.


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