Congratulations on your Pregnancy!
Finding out that she’s pregnant is the most joyous moment for any mum-to-be. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, a journey towards nurturing a lovely life in her womb is about to start. With the onset of pregnancy, it is a must for every woman to be informed at all stages to make it a blissful experience. This includes diet, hormonal and physiological changes, infections to take care of and important tests and scans that need to be done during pregnancy.
There are so many changes taking place in your body during this time that you tend to sideline certain developments out of sheer ignorance. Hence, to help you stay mindful of your pregnancy, I’m putting down my experience and research for the tests which need to be done during Pregnancy and common infections you need to be aware of.
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Tests for pregnant women during Pregnancy :
There are several tests performed in the course of 9 months on a pregnant woman and many times they vary based on the medical history and progression of an individual’s pregnancy. Certain tests are termed as Regular tests which are performed on all Pregnant women, while some are performed only on women to screen certain abnormalities of the developing foetus. Some tests determine the growth of the foetus while some are aimed towards the infections a to-be-mama can carry.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! After you see that your home pregnancy test is positive, you can get a lab/hospital urine test done to get a confirmatory nod of the HCG hormone in urine, assuring that you’ll be a mama soon.
First trimester tests :
First Trimester transforms an Embryo into a growing foetus. It is the duration when the body organs are formed but not yet developed.
Till the mid of the first Trimester i.e., around 8-10 weeks, the tests generally recommended are :
1. Viability Scan : This is done for an estimate of the foetus heartbeat and for ruling out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.
2. Routine Blood tests for determining the Blood group, RH factor, Blood count, chances of Diabetes , Rubella, Hepatitis and HIV. Even Thalassemia and Sickle cell anaemia tests are done to make sure you have a safe pregnancy.
3. Double Marker : This test is performed on all pregnant women to determine the possibility of Downs Syndrome[DS]. Determination of DS involves a Blood test followed by a Nuchal Translucency (NT) screening. NT screening is a non-invasive scan performed between 11-13 weeks. The final result of the blood Test & NT Scan confirms the risk of any Chromosomal Abnormality.
4. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) : This is a specialized test and is recommended if any chances of Genetic irregularities are observed. It is an invasive process in which small tissues are obtained from the placenta between 10-12 weeks. These tissues are then analyzed for genetic disorders.
Thus begins the start of a healthy development. Remember to have a nutritious diet and avoid smoking, drinking and consuming excess caffeine to make sure there is no foetal abnormality.
Second Trimester tests :
So, you’ve moved into another Trimester. You are bound to have less nausea and I’m sure you’re already dreaming of that little baby who will fill up your life with lots of sunshine. So, to progress into the land of motherhood, the following tests are preferred :
1. Ultrasound Scan : To check on the foetal development, a dating scan can now be done to share EDD (estimated date of delivery). Goosebumps – yes, there will be many when you get to know the tentative date of labour.
2. Blood tests & GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) : Complete Blood tests are recommended again and GTT (24-28 weeks) as well to determine diabetes during pregnancy.
3. Quadruple marker test : If you missed Double Marker test, you can easily go for this test between 15-21 weeks to find out the possibilities of Downs Syndrome. It is done by taking a blood sample and measuring the amount of 4 hormones in your blood (HCG, Inh, AFP, uEST). If the results are abnormal, advanced test like Amniocentesis is recommended.
4. Expanded Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) : This is done between 15-20 weeks with a blood sample and it helps determine genetic disorders and neural tube defects, such as spina bifida & DS. Incase of any positive result, you’ll have to go for Amniocentesis soon.
5. Amniocentesis : It is an invasive process in which small amount of amniotic fluid is sampled between 15-17 weeks of pregnancy. Chromosomal studies done on this sample show the confirmation of DS, NT defects, Sickle cell Anaemia and other Chromosomal abnormalities.
So, here are the Third Trimester tests :
Now the scans will happen more frequently. You’ll be called every alternate week till 35 weeks and then every week till you give birth.
1. Growth Scans : Fundal height, baby position (breech or normal), and similar measurements to determine the growth and position will be monitored. Foetus Heart beats will be monitored and you can actually hear them.
2. Doppler Scan : It measures the blood flow through the Umbilical cord and around baby’s brain and heart. It helps to know if the placenta is normal and if enough oxygen is being delivered to the foetus. It was this test which determined that my baby had 3 rounds of cord (placenta) around it and thus I was told I’d have an early delivery.
3. Physical Scan : Your weight, Blood Pressure, hands, face, ankles will be monitored closely for swelling.
4. Test to check infection : At around 35-36 weeks, vaginal swab is taken to determine any bacterial infection (it’s pretty common in pregnant women). Read below on Infections during Pregnancy.
At the onset of labour, your Gynaecologist may recommend tests like Nonstress Test (NST) – to determine baby’s heart rate, Contraction Stress Test (CST) – to determine how your baby handles the stress of labor.
It’s high time mama, you’ll exit labour and enter the beautiful phase of motherhood! Excited to welcome your baby?
Common Infections during Pregnancy :
It is perfectly normal if pregnancy has made you more susceptible to infections. The culprits are the drastic changes in the hormonal levels, more fluid in lungs and your bladder holding urine for longer periods of time which results in different types of Infection. While some infections pose a risk to mother, there are some which can be passed via placenta and affect the growing baby.
General infections during Pregnancy :
1. Excess White Discharge, which usually enhances as you approach labor. If you are uncomfortable and this discharge is smelly, consult your doctor.
2. Vaginal Infections : Hormonal changes make us more susceptible to a type of yeast infection known as candidiasis (in 2nd Trimester). This can be detected by excess smelly discharge, Itching in Vagina or Burning sensation while urinating.
3. Urinary Tract infection : During Pregnancy, our body increases the production of progesterone hormone, which relaxes the ureter and bladder. Thus, urine may stay in the bladder for long periods. This, in turn, increases the risk of developing urinary tract infection. In this case, timely treatment is important, else it could lead to Kidney infections and also affect the baby’s weight. You must seek advice if you’re experiencing difficulty in urination, smelly urine or burning sensation .
Hey mamas, your journey is incredible. With just a little more awareness and taking really good care of your health, this journey of Motherhood can be made memorable!