Tests: no one likes them, but they are totally important, even more for pregnant moms and those who have just delivered, along with their little ones. There are a series of tests done for both mom and baby - and sometimes dad is involved - and these could begin as early as before mom is even pregnant, up to after the baby has born and beyond. Many new parents are also unaware of how many tests and treatments they'll be involved in and the number of tests their newborns will receive too.
Before new moms start panicking when a doctor calls in for tests and more tests, or when mom gets her brand new baby and he or she receives a shot, there's a lot of information on medications and vaccinations that are important, along with the evidence behind their recommendations. For the pregnant mom, tests run all through the prenatal visits, sometimes they may be even called in between visits depending on the status of the pregnancy, but everything is done to ensure both mom and baby are well and healthy, and to handle any emergencies that may arise before they actually happen. For dads, tests are done to ensure there's compatibility as well as ensure the baby doesn't get affected, especially due to genetic family history issues. Here are some of the tests and shots to expect from pregnancy, in the delivery room, before taking the baby home, and during infancy.
20 Pre-everything tests
This is the first test that starts before conception. A series of tests such as a carrier genetic screening to detect if the parent may be a carrier for potentially serious genetic disorders like sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and about 100 others. According to Map My Genome, parents may be carriers without displaying symptoms, but they can pass the gene for the underlying disorder to their kids. If mom isn't a carrier, then dad need not be tested, unless both are carriers, which would up the chances of the baby being affected. The CBC is another important test before conception or in early pregnancy to measure various factors in the blood like the white and red blood cell count, platelet count, hemoglobin and hematocrit. If either of these counts is low it could result in anemia. A low platelets count also needs to be addressed as these help in blood clotting and ensure blood loss doesn't go beyond the normal levels during pregnancy.
19 #1 test
Regular antenatal check-ups are an important part of staying healthy both for the pregnant woman and her baby, as they assist in identifying and reducing any potential risks, according to Child, Youth and Women's Health Service. One of the tests taken during the first antenatal visit is a urine test, where the doctor or midwife will ask you to collect a sample of your urine. The sample will then be tested for an infection especially in the bladder or urinary tract because sometimes pregnant women may have the infection without displaying any symptoms. If the infection is present, antibiotics can be used to treat it, as it may have serious ramifications on the pregnancy including complications and even kidney infections.
18 Tests in the first trimester
First trimester screening, according to Stanford Children's Health is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing performed during pregnancy. Among the tests done during the first trimester include the Rhesus (Rh) factor test that looks for a protein on the surface of the red blood cells. This test is important because if the mom lacks the Rh negative and dad has it, complications can occur as the baby can inherit it from him, leading to baby's blood mixing with mom's and her immune system may attack baby's blood causing hemolytic anemia. Also, screening for STDs like syphillis, herpes, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and chlamydia, all of which can be cured with baby-safe antibiotics, according to Map My Genome. It also involves ultrasound tests for fetal nuchal translucency to check for increased fluid or thickening at the back of the fetal neck, two maternal serum tests to measure PAPP-A protein and hCG hormone, all of which determine if the fetus may have a birth defect like Down syndrome.
17 Testing at 8 weeks
At 8 weeks, as noted by The Bump, baby is the size of a raspberry and keeps growing about a millimeter each day. Even though you may not feel baby moving in the first trimester, he or she has been moving since 7 or 8 weeks, plus you can hear the heart beating if you go for an early ultrasound. At this stage though, you are likely to get some blood drawn for tests to be run such as blood type (Rh positive or negative), checking hormone levels and white blood cell count, pap smear to check infections and abnormalities, and urine samples too will be taken to check glucose and protein levels. Another important test is immunity towards Rubella virus because a baby affected by it may end up with multiple defects like sight and/or hearing abnormalities and congenital heart defects. According to Map My Genome, anyone not vaccinated against rubella is at risk of getting it, especially through international travel. Its advised to get vaccinated before getting pregnant.
16 Testing at 10-12 weeks
At 12 weeks, CVS testing, which involves withdrawing of chorionic fluid employing ultrasound using a needle, is recommended to test for chromosomal abnormalities. The test, according to Stanford Children's Health, may be offered to women at increased risk of such abnormalities, or have a family history of genetic defect tat can be tested from the placental tissue. It is performed during the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy, and involves inserting a small catheter into the cervix, as guided by an ultrasound into a place near the placenta. Some women may feel cramping during and after the procedure, but not all women are candidates for this test.
15 Testing at the 12th week
At 12 weeks, tests such as checking the baby's heartbeat and a fetal ultrasound are carried out to discover the baby's gestational age, so that prenatal care planning and predicting of a delivery date can be done properly. Additionally, the tests help locate the fetus to ensure it is situated in the proper place in the uterus, not in the fallopian tubes, which would otherwise indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Fetal ultrasounds help confirm also that the baby is growing well and that there are no abnormalities, plus parents can know whether they'll be expecting one baby or multiples like twins, triplets, and the like.
14 Testing at 16 weeks
According to Baby Center, the pregnant mom should expect a growth spurt in the next few weeks as the baby's weight doubles while his length has added inches. At 16 weeks, the baby is about the size of an avocado, and his legs are more developed with a more erect head. At this stage, a test known as amniocentesis is done to allow for detection of chromosomal abnormalities. Women over the age of 35 are highly recommended to take this test because of the chances of abnormality being increased at this age. It involves using a needle to extract amniotic fluid via ultrasound, which is then analyzed for genetic defects like neural tube defects which cause birth defects, as noted by Map My Genome.
13 Testing at 20 weeks
Fit Pregnancy says that around this time, you should be feeling a psychological boost because you're halfway through! Yaaay! Your immunities are also being transfered from you to the fetus, who is about 10 inches in length at this stage and 9 ounces in weight. The doctor will measure your fundal weight at every prenatal visit, which should be around 20 centimeters, and if it deviates, your care provider will follow up with an ultrasound to check if baby is too big or small. The tests at 20 weeks include multiple marker screening, which comes in two varieties: triple screen test and quad screen test. The former looks for alpha-fetoprotein, hCG and estriol in the fetal blood or placenta, while the quad screen looks for inhibin A. These tests help detect neural tube defects. A sonogram is also done to determine how far along the pregnancy is, which might also explain abnormal results if any.
12 Testing at 28 weeks
At a glance, 28 weeks into pregnancy comes with cute moments which you don't get to see like your baby starts experiencing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and may be dreaming, blinking, making faces by sticking out their tongues. Some of the symptoms at this stage include bloating and gas, faintness or dizzinness, stuffy nose, sciatica, melasma and bleeding gums, among others. Tests at this stage include glucose tolerance test for diabetes, to measure sugar or glucose levels in mom's blood. If the levels are abnormal, it may indicate gestational diabetes. The mom to be is asked to drink water on the day of the test with initial fasting sample of blood drawn from a vein, after which she'll drink a special glucose solution. Blood is drawn severally over a few ours to measure glucose levels in the body.
11 Testing at 36 weeks
At 36 weeks, just a month or so away from delivery or the onset of labor, the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) test is done to determine whether the mom is a Strep B carrier. Antibiotics may be administered to the mom to minimize the risk of infections to the baby at birth, according to Map My Genome. GBS are bacteria in the lower genital tract of about 25 percent of all women, and causes no problems before pregnancy, like it does during pregnancy. It causes life-threatening infections in newborns such as pneumonia and meningitis, as the babies contract it during pregnancy or from mom's genital tract during labor and delivery, as noted by Stanford Children's Health organisation. Women are advised to be screened between 35 to 37 weeks' gestation and receive antibiotic treatment if their GBS tests return positive results.
10 Blood pressure testing
Blood pressure is a very important part of any person's life, whether it is a pregnant woman, or anyone else. For pregnant women, however, blood pressure is important to test because if it is rising, it can have serious health risks for the mom and the child. Serious conditions such as preeclampsia, which affects 7 percent of all pregnant women, especially first time moms and those carrying multiple children, are verified by testing blood pressure and protein in the urine, according to Map My Genome. During labor, the baby's heart rate also needs monitoring and any changes outside the normal range of 110 to 160 beats per minute means the baby isn't getting the right amount of oxygen, hence corrective steps need to be taken.
9 Fetal monitoring
Fetal monitoring involves checking the rate and rhythm of the baby's heartbeat, with the average being between 110 and 160 beats a minute. During the later stages of pregnancy, and labor, the doctor monitors fetal heart rate as it may change due to the fetus' response to uterine conditions. Abnormal heart rate patterns may mean the fetus isn't getting enough oxygen or other underlying issues, and an emergency delivery or cesarean section is required in this case. A fetoscope is used to listen to the fetal heartbeat, or a hand held Doppler device, during prenatal visits, to count the rate. During labor, fetal monitoring is done continuously with details varying slightly.
This is perhaps what most people know as a procedure carried out during pregnancy. Ultrasound is a scan done as a diagnostic technique to check normal fetal growth, and verify the due date of delivery. It uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs and may be done at different times during pregnancy for varied reasons. In the first trimester, ultrasounds establish due date of the pregnancy and determine how many fetuses are in the womb, identify placental structures, and diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. During the 18-20 week ultrasound, further determinations are made on fetal behavior and activity, blood flow patterns, length of cervix, and check level of amniotic fluid besides monitoring fetal growth. In the third trimester, over and above the first and mid-trimester, things such as position of the fetus and placenta assessment are checked.
7 Genetic Screening
What happens here is more of checking for any genetic abnormalities before birth. Genetic testing is recommended if you or your partner has a family history of genetic disorders, or have had a baby with the same. Information such as age, family history and ethnic background is taken into consideration as they can be an indicator into the risk of the fetus being born with genetic conditions, which can actually reduce the length and quality of the child's life. Among the genetic disorders that can be diagnosed before birth are hemophilia A, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibriosis, and polycystic kidney disease, among others, as Stanford Children's Health notes.
6 Pap smear
Most women may know something about pap smears, but they're also done during pregnancy. A pap smear is done to test for early cervical cancer and STDs like chlamydia and/or gonorrhea. It takes a few minutes and is used to collect cells from the pregnant mom's cervix, which are then examined to see if there are any changes in the cells, before they become cancerous. Regular smears help find early changes and treat them before cancer develops, and any woman who has ever had sex is encouraged to have one done. A urine specimen is also taken to check if there are any urinary tract infections, plus blood pressure to screen for high blood pressure.
5 Baby’s First test
Here's where baby actually gets tested. According to Baby's First Test, a physician, nurse, midwife or other trained member of the hospital staff will fill out a newborn screening card, part of which is to collect the baby's blood sample, and the other is important information for the screening lab like baby's name, sex, weight, date and time of birth, as well as date and time of heel stick collection and first feeding. Other details like parents' contact information and the primary care provider for follow up tests are also included. Known as the Heel Stick, this blood test involves pricking baby's heel to collect a small sample, and drops are put onto a filter paper card creating several dried blood spots. The card is sent for analysis at a state laboratory.
4 Hearing screen
This test can be done in two versions: one is the OAE test, or Otoacoustic Emissions test to determine if the baby's ear responds to sound, or certain parts of it, while the ABR or Auditory Brain Stem Response test is used to evaluate the baby's auditory brain stem and brain's response to sound. Both tests take about 10 minutes tops, and are safe, and comfy for baby, with zero activity required from the little one - they can even be done when baby is sound asleep. Not all two tests have to be used, but both are taken just in case.
3 Pulse Oximetry test
This test, also known as pulse ox, is non-invasive and measures how much oxygen is in the baby's blood. Babies with heart problems may have low blood oxygen levels, as Baby's First Test notes, so the test helps identify babies that may have the CCHD or Critical Congenital Heart Disease. A pulse oximeter is used for this process, with a painless sensor that is placed on the baby's skin, and takes only two minutes. The test is done after baby is 24 hours old, and/or before baby leaves the newborn nursery, so its about a day after baby is born.
2 6 weeks post-partum check up
A post-partum check is done about 6 weeks after childbirth, and moms are encouraged not to miss it because it could lead to what Fit Pregnancy lists as incomplete healing, unwanted pregnancy, overlooked infection, and undiagnosed postpartum depression, among other issues. The appointment can pay off for moms both physically and emotionally, as the doctor checks whether the uterus has adjusted back to its pre-pregnancy size, bleeding ceased, and any tears or incisions from cesarean section or episiotomy have healed properly. A pap smear and blood test are also done to rule out problems such as anemia or thyroid issues, and moms are encouraged to talk if they have any issues with their bosoms like lumps, or pain and other problems.
1 Tests for postpartum depression or psychosis
Postpartum psychosis or depression is handled by specialist doctors who talk to the mom, and are able to find out the typical symptoms, some of which can be caused by other conditions. Tests done sometimes at this stage include thyroid blood tests, blood tests for vitamin deficiencies, computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scanning to rule out strokes, and tests for sugar and sodium levels that can cause odd behavior. Similarly, a doctor or midwife may check for depression on all women who have delivered, and may ask stuff like whether you feel down, depressed, or hopeless, whether you have lost pleasure in doing things, or if you feel nervous, anxious or cannot stop or control worrying.
References: webmd.com, todaysparent.com, mapmygenome.in, standfordchildrens.org, babysfirsttest.org, cyh.com, fitpregnancy.com, patient.info