Throughout your pregnancy,
you'll want to know how your baby is growing. Prenatal
tests can offer valuable information about your health and the health of your
If your doctor recommends a test, ask about the risks and benefits. Most parents
find that prenatal tests offer them peace of mind while helping to prepare them for
their baby's arrival. But it's your choice to accept or decline a test.
Routine Screenings & Other Tests
Your first visit to the obstetrician (if you haven't gone already) should include
a pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy and a full physical that includes a pelvic
exam. Your urine (pee) also will be tested for protein, sugar, and signs of infection.
If you're due for your routine cervical test (Pap smear), the doctor include it
as part of the pelvic exam. This test detects changes in your cervical cells that
could lead to cancer. During the pelvic exam, your doctor also will check for sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia
A blood test will check for things like:
your blood type and Rh factor.
If your blood is Rh negative and your partner's is Rh positive, you may develop antibodies
that prove dangerous to your fetus. This can be prevented through an injection given
around the 28th week of pregnancy.
You can expect to get your urine tested and your weight and blood pressure checked
at every (or almost every) visit until you deliver. These tests can find conditions
such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure).
Throughout your second trimester, you'll be offered more tests depending on your
age, health, family medical history, and other things. These can include:
An ultrasound is a safe and painless test that uses sound waves to make images that
show the baby's shape and position in the uterus. Most second-trimester ultrasounds,
or "level 2" ultrasounds, are done between 18–20 weeks to examine the baby's
anatomy and confirm that the baby is developing normally. Women with high-risk pregnancies
may have multiple ultrasounds in their second trimester.
This test checks for gestational
diabetes, a short-term form of diabetes that develops in some women during pregnancy
and can cause health problems for the baby, especially if it is not diagnosed or treated.
You'll drink a sugary liquid, then have a blood test an hour later to check glucose
levels. It's usually done at 24 to 28 weeks, but can be earlier if a woman is at higher
risk for gestational diabetes.
This test takes a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby to check
for signs of problems such as chromosomal disorders, genetic problems, and neural
tube defects. It's usually done between 15 and 20 weeks in women who are considered
at higher risk of having a baby with these disorders.
umbilical blood sampling (PUBS): Also known as cordocentesis, fetal blood
sampling, or umbilical vein sampling, this quick test examines fetal blood directly
from the umbilical cord to detect disorders in the fetus. It's usually done after
18 weeks of pregnancy. It's not done as often as other diagnostic tests (such as amniocentesis
and chorionic villus sampling),
but may be used if results from those tests are not conclusive.
What Other Tests Might Be Offered?
Health care providers might order other tests during a woman's pregnancy based
on such things as her (and her partner's) personal medical history and risk factors.
It's important to speak with a genetic
counselor if your baby is at risk for hereditary conditions.
Screening or diagnostic tests offered include tests for: