Sometimes pregnant women think that all nine months of pregnancy seem like a continuous undergoing screenings and tests. They really have to be done very often, and waiting for results sometimes can be a nerve-wracking experience, in addition, women often believe that doctors are more likely to ”play it safe” with unnecessary tests. So, why are tests done?
Most Objective Information
Obtaining information about a woman`s lifestyle, prior pregnancies, infectious and chronic diseases is important for a doctor, who registers the woman for prenatal care. However, tests can give the most accurate and objective information.
First of all, a pregnant woman needs to have a blood test, sometimes performed multiple times. For example, a complete blood count, which is done four to six times that is before registering, each trimester, and just before labor starts. A complete blood count provides information on the presence of white blood cells (which indicate the presence of inflammation in the body), shows the hemoglobin level, and a number of red blood cells. A biochemistry test is done three times during pregnancy (first, when registering, second, at the 18th week of pregnancy, third, after the 30th week).
Blood tests for hepatitis B and HIV are also done at least twice during pregnancy.
Even if a woman knows her blood type and Rh factor, in any case, she has a blood test to confirm the results. If there is a risk for Rh incompatibility, blood tests for the presence of antibodies can be performed up to ten times.
Screening, which may include several blood tests and ultrasound for early detection of abnormal fetal development, including chromosomal disorders, neural tube defects and other serious problems, is performed between weeks 10 and 12. If something suspicious is found, the doctor may order more tests.
In Ukraine a TORCH-screen (it detects the presence of antibodies to toxoplasmosis, herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, rubella) is not mandatory, but doctors do recommend it. We advise expectant mothers not to refuse the test.
At the sixth month of pregnancy a glucose tolerance test for diabetes, which is first diagnosed in pregnancy and is known as gestational diabetes, is done. If the first test gives a positive result, the test is repeated.
At each and every prenatal visit expectant mothers get a urine test. It is significantly important because it gives the opportunity to monitor the health status of pregnant women. In particular, the presence of leukocytes and protein in urine are very important findings. They can indicate the presence of inflammation or early (developing) gestosis. In addition, the urine test detects asymptomatic bacteriuria, a condition that can endanger a woman with inflammatory processes in the kidneys in late pregnancy.
Ultrasound for Help
At least three times all expectant mothers should receive ultrasound during pregnancy. The first mandatory prenatal ultrasound is done at 10–14 weeks' gestation, the second routine prenatal ultrasound is at 18-22 weeks, and the third routine prenatal ultrasound is at 30-34 weeks' gestation. The last ultrasound can be done later, closer to delivery, to ensure that there are no medical indications for caesarean section. Doctors around the world believe that during pregnancy ultrasound should be performed as many times, as necessary in order to ensure that all is well with the baby.
At least once during the entire pregnancy (and preferably twice, in the second and third trimesters) Doppler ultrasound should be performed. The procedure allows assessment of fetal circulation and cardiac function, placental blood flow and other factors, which can confirm normal fetal development.
It seems that too many tests and examinations are to be performed during pregnancy. The only thing that calms you down is that everything is done for both baby and mother's health. It lasts only nine months.