Tests & Procedures

You will have quite a few tests while you are pregnant. These are done to make sure you and your baby are moving forward in a normal way. Your first clinic visit will include some of the tests described here. Others are done in later weeks. If your provider thinks you have a problem, he or she may order extra tests.

Tests for your unborn baby

Biophysical profile/non-stress test: A biophysical profile is often done if there is a concern about your baby’s health. For instance, it might be done if there is decreased fetal movement or a fetal growth problem, or if you go past your due date. But if your healthcare provider suggests a biophysical profile, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your baby. Here is what you can expect.

Contraction stress tests: In rare cases, a mother may be given medicine to stimulate contractions. This lets providers find out how the baby will response to mild stress before labor begins.

Genetic tests

Amniocentesis: Baby chromosomes can be studied in samples of amniotic fluid. When needed, this is done between 15 and 18 weeks. You will have complete genetic counseling before amniocentesis. Not all pregnant women need this test.

Chorionic Villus Sampling: This rare test is also used to study baby chromosomes before birth. Tiny amounts of placenta are removed between weeks 9 and 13. If you need this test, you will be referred to the nearest university genetic testing center.

Cystic Fibrosis Testing: You can choose to be tested to see if your baby has an increased chance of having cystic fibrosis (CF).

First Trimester Screening: First Trimester Screening tells you what your risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 13 using a finger poke and an ultrasound measurement along with your age (or age of egg donor in case of egg donation). The blood test needs to be done between 9 weeks gestation and 13 weeks and 6 days gestation. The ultrasound is a measurement of an area on the back of the baby's neck. It is done between 11 weeks gestation and 13 weeks and 6 days gestation.

Maternal Serum Screening: Sometime during your fourth month, you can choose to have Maternal Serum Screening performed. This blood test can tell you if there is an increased chance your baby may have Down syndrome or spina bifida. This test is an option.

Ultrasound: Using ultrasound to make an image of the baby, placenta and uterus has become widespread. At Gundersen, we perform this service in Obstetrics. You find out test results right away. By looking at the ultrasound image, the doctor can tell the sex and position of the baby and placenta.

Routine blood tests

Hemogram: A hemogram will be done in the first few weeks. This test shows if you are anemic or have an infection.

Blood type and Rh factor: Your blood type may be A, B, AB or O. If you are like most people, your blood contains the Rh factor. This means you are Rh positive. If your blood does not have this factor, you are Rh negative. This can cause a problem if you are Rh negative and the father of the baby is Rh positive. In this case, you will be given a vaccine called Rh immune globulin (Rhophylac® or Rhogam®) at 28 weeks. You will get a second dose after delivery if your baby is Rh positive. The vaccine keeps your body from creating Rh antibodies.
Your blood type is marked on your chart. You should know it, too. At the time of birth, remind those caring for you if you are Rh negative.

Rubella (German Measles): This is a highly contagious viral disease. Its main symptom is a red, bumpy rash. A blood test may be done in the early weeks to see if you are immune to rubella.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): STIs are spread from person to person by unsafe sex. The best known STIs are syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes. If an STI is passed on to a baby, the results can be very serious. You will be screened for STIs early in pregnancy.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV testing is routine for pregnant patients. You can decline the test if you wish. Discuss this with your provider. HIV Testing: What you need to know.

Hepatitis: Liver inflammation can be caused by any hepatitis virus (A, B or C). You will have a blood test to screen for the presence of hepatitis B virus. Based on results of the test, you may need more testing or treatment.

Hypothyroidism: If you have been treated for hypothyroidism in the past, your dose may need to be higher for the next 9 months. As soon as you are confirmed to be pregnant, the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your body should be checked. Your doctor will adjust your dose of medicine based on results of this test.

Blood sugar testing: High blood sugars can affect you and your baby. For this reason, most women are asked to have a glucose challenge test (GCT). Some have the GCT early in pregnancy. Most have it between 24 and 28 weeks. You drink a measured amount of a sweet drink and have a blood test 1 hour later. This drink may upset an empty stomach. Be sure to eat a little something the morning of your GCT.

Urinalysis: At your first visit your urine will be tested for infection. The test also shows whether your kidneys and bladder are working as they should.

Group B vaginal cultures: This culture will be done around 36 weeks. This painless test can detect group B strep (GBS) bacteria and other disease. GBS is one of many common bacteria living in humans that do not harm healthy people. GBS is in the vaginas of about 2 out of 10 pregnant women near the time of birth. GBS is not an STI. It does not cause discharge, itching or other symptoms. Even if you have GBS in your vagina at birth, you will be given intravenous (IV) antibiotics in labor. This will reduce risk of your baby getting sick from GBS to about 1 in 4,000.

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Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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