One cannot stress the importance of prenatal care for any pregnancy woman. Not getting prenatal care can have very serious consequences as this would mean not having your pregnancy and your baby’s health monitored. Women who do not get prenatal care are more likely to have a miscarriage or two deliver the baby early. In most countries, prenatal care is offered free of charge. These sessions are a great time for the pregnant mother to learn ways to enhance the pregnancy experience and take on board tips and advice to make it as stress free as possible.
Here are some of the basic tests and checks your prenatal care provider will carry out on your first visit when you discover you are pregnant, to be precise at about eight weeks into your pregnancy.
Ethnic origins, personal health history and family health history
Any medications and supplements taken, plus questions about smoking, alcohol and recreational drug use
Questions will be asked about your menstrual cycle
Psychological feedback about your current and past state of mind. What they want to assess is your psychological well being.
Why no bring your partner along too so that he too can partake in the experience and perhaps have questions of his own he would like answered. Besides monitoring your baby’s health, these sessions could be a great opportunity for the three of you to bond.
You will also undergo a urine test and a blood test. Urine testing has a number of important uses. Right at the beginning of your health care visits, a urine test will be carried out to check the glucose levels in your urine. Later in the pregnancy, another urine test will be carried out to check the levels of protein. If there is protein in the urine, doctors might suspect preeclampsia. Other conditions which can be revealed from analysis of maternal urine include urinary tract infections or kidney stones. Pregnant woman are more prone to urinary tract infections due to the increased levels of progesterone which cause constricting of the urinary duct. This stalls flow of urine which can lead to infection. Urinary tract infections can trigger preterm labour and increase the risk of fetal mortality.
A blood test is also very important. First and foremost, it is important to know the blood group. This is in case a future blood transfusion is required. More importantly, at around sixteen weeks, a maternal serum test is carried out. This test is important to get an estimate of whether there the fetus might have a neural tube defect.
Other tests you might have to undergo
In some case doctors might need a sample of your baby’s DNA and thus, will need to carry out a prenatal DNA test. This is if they suspect that your baby might not be normal. Usually, they would get their doubts because other tests (like the blood tests, urine tests or ultrasounds mentioned above) would provide results which are not “normal”. Mind you, this does not necessarily mean something is definitely wrong with your baby – to be able to know with more certainty they need more in-depth tests. The two tests which might ring a bell are amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Two complicated names for two essentially simple procedures that take a very short time. Amniocentesis takes only around 5 minutes whilst chorionic villus sampling around 10 minutes. Before each, you will however need ultrasounds and these typically take around 20 minutes.
Amniocentesis is the withdrawal of amniotic fluid from with the amniotic sac. To be able to carry out this extraction, a qualified OBGYN will need to insert a needle into the womb and withdraw the fluid.
Chorionic villus sampling can be of two types: the OBYN can either insert a catheter through the cervix or a needle through the abdomen. Whilst amniocentesis involves extraction of amniotic fluid, chorionic villus sampling involves taking a tissue sample from the lining of the womb. Whether the OBGYN decides to carry out amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling is not simply a matter of choice. The pregnancy trimester and what the OBGYN wants to establish are the determining factors.
Emily Burns is a qualified nurse in the maternity care unit of a private hospital. She currently has put work on hold and dedicated herself to being a full time mother and a writer from home. She regularly provides articles to many info sites and blogs about prenatal care and pregnancy. Articles by the writer can be found in the article repository for homeDNAdirect Canada.