During your regular checkups, your doctor will check your weight and blood pressure and measure your abdomen to see if your baby is growing at the expected rate. Your doctor may also take a urine sample to test for sugar or protein in your urine. As your pregnancy progresses, your doctor will also perform cervical exams.
In addition to those routine procedures, your doctor may also order certain prenatal tests based on your stage of pregnancy, health history or other issues. Common prenatal tests include:
- Blood tests: Often done in the first trimester, these tests check overall blood chemistry and also may test for blood type (including Rh testing) and infectious diseases. Tests may be ordered again later in pregnancy to monitor maternal and fetal health.
- Ultrasound: Using high-frequency sound waves, ultrasound creates an image of your growing baby. Ultrasound can also help determine the fetus' age, verify the expected due date, detect multiple fetuses and identify potential problems or concerns with the baby’s development.
- Maternal serum and chorionic villus testing: These tests usually involve analyzing blood or placental samples to predict or ascertain your baby’s risk of various genetic problems and birth defects. Some tests only screen for risk factors, with an abnormal result simply indicating a need for further testing. Other tests are more definitive with results confirming the presence or absence of genetic diseases or birth defects.
- Amniocentesis: During this test, your doctor will extract a sample of amniotic fluid using a needle. The sample is then sent to a lab where fetal cells are grown and analyzed for chromosomal defects. This test is generally offered only to women who have an increased risk for having a baby with genetic defects.
- Glucose tolerance testing: This test checks for signs of gestational diabetes by analyzing a blood sample for sugar content after you drink a sweetened solution.
- Hemoglobin testing: This test measures the amount of red blood cells in your blood. Too few can indicate anemia, a common and easily corrected problem during pregnancy.
- Group B strep testing: During the third trimester, your doctor will also check for any group B strep infection. This type of bacteria does not usually cause any issue for adults but it can lead to serious infections in a newborn. Group B strep can be easily treated with antibiotics prior to delivery.