Pregnant and expecting mothers always have an opportunity to learn a lot about their yet to be born child’s health with today’s technological advancement in genetic screening and diagnostic tests. So welcome to our blog and very congratulations on your pregnancy and we hope that we will together share helpful information on prenatal screening tests with each other and we will be able to make this beautiful journey of pregnancy as smooth as possible.
Being pregnant and giving birth to a child is not a cakewalk. Parents go through a full-fledged roller coaster ride to give birth to a healthy child. To take care of the fetus and the mother, we need to undergo several screening processes in which doctors perform several tests to check the health of the mother and the baby. This process is called prenatal genetic testing that allows a pregnant mother and her healthcare team to provide the best care to the baby. The prenatal screening tests process helps us to determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. These prenatal screening tests may be used alone or in combination with other tests.
List of Prenatal Screening Tests in the First Trimester
There are several tests that expected mothers have to undergo in order to capture and analyze the condition and the growth level of the fetus. We need to undergo these prenatal tests every trimester to make sure that everything is working fine and under controlled conditions. These tests are performed to gauge the present and approximate future condition of the fetus. So without any further adieu let’s get straight into it:
Ultrasound is the most common form of testing which you will undergo multiple times in your pregnancy cycle. This is performed to determine fetus age, due date, and to detect the number of fetuses in the mother’s womb. It is crucially used to check various physical birth defects, track your baby’s growth, and determine well-being.
In this process, the doctor applies a gel on the lower abdomen area and then rolls a transducer on the gel that sends sound waves to the machine. This allows it to creates a picture of your baby on a monitor screen as well.
Early Blood Tests
During the early stage of your pregnancy, in your first trimester, it is suggested to go through two types of blood tests called a sequential integrated screening test and a serum integrated screening. These tests are used to measure the pregnancy associated plasma protein-A and a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. These are certain substances that are found in the blood. Abnormal levels of either of these means there is a higher risk of a chromosome abnormality.
Other blood tests may also include the screening of syphilis, hepatitis B, HIV. Your Rh factor, blood type, hemoglobin, etc will also be checked.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Chorionic Villus Sampling determines if your baby has specific genetic problems.? The test is usually done at 10 to 12 weeks to test for chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, and genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.
In this invasive sampling process, a small amount of tissue is extracted from your baby’s developing placenta which then undergoes for some studies by an expert.
This testing has some side effects as well, like cramps or spotting. There is also some small risk of miscarriage, in very few cases. Although this is an optional test which depends on your will.
Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Test
You may go through this test to determine if your baby is at risk for cystic fibrosis. If both mother and father are carriers, the baby has a one-fourth chance of having cystic fibrosis too. This test is offered to all couples. In this test, your blood is checked that can identify most carriers of an altered gene for Cystic Fibrosis (CF).
Pap Smear Test
Doctors generally recommend getting a Pap Smear (also known as a Pap Test) in an early stage of pregnancy as a simple part of routine prenatal care. Doctors use a swab to collect cervical cells that are then sent to a lab that checks for abnormal cervical cells. The presence of these cells could mean cervical cancer.
This is not an invasive test and should be done by women of 21 years and above that can detect changes in cervical cells and can indicate you of the cervical cancer chances.
What Questions To Be Asked To The Doctor?
- How accurate are these tests?
- How many times have your health care provider has done this procedure before?
- What are the risk factors in these tests which may trigger me and my baby?
- How reliable are the tests and their results?
- How long these tests will take?
- When if I find anything abnormal in these tests?
- What are the alternatives to these tests?
- Is it necessary to go through these tests?
- How can my test results change the care process of my pregnancy?
Points To Be Noted In The Tests During The First Trimester
- Screening tests have to be routinely done in all the 3 trimesters of the pregnancy, which is in the First trimester (starting 3 months of the pregnancy), Second trimester (next 3 months of the pregnancy), and Third trimester (last 3 months of the pregnancy).
- If these screening tests results in showing your baby are at undetermined risk then you may go for other high-level test followed by the doctor’s suggestion.
- Diagnostic tests validate the presence of a situation and are often very accurate.
- Some diagnostic tests like Chorionic Villus Sampling can increase the risk of pregnancy loss (miscarriage).
Tests during the first trimesters can be a crucial source of information for pregnant parents. Many of these tests are routine and are much more of a personal decision. You can go for genetic counseling if needed.
So, have a wonderful time taking care of your unborn baby. Eat healthily, stay fit, and shine bright like a diamond. Till then follow Shapeshifting Moms for more such helpful content and make your mom experience even more special.
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