Prenatal care is incredibly important as an opportunity for new parents to ask medical questions and dispel their anxieties. However, monitoring a parent’s health and that of their baby is bound to involve some poking, blood-drawing, and other kinds of testing. Here are five of the most common types of prenatal testing available to parents who receive care during pregnancy.
Ultrasounds are the most iconic prenatal tests, as films and TV shows love to capture the most magical moments parents share before their child’s birth. These scans typically occur twice in a pregnancy: once to determine the age of the fetus and give parents a due date, and again after 18 weeks to determine the baby’s gender.
This test involves sampling a small amount of the amniotic fluid in the womb to check for infection or other causes for concern regarding a baby’s health. Amniocentesis can help your physician see if your and your baby’s blood differ in a way that’s problematic for the baby’s health. If the amniocentesis test finds that one party is Rh-negative and the other is Rh-positive, you’ll also want to have a DAT (direct antibody test) performed after giving birth.
You’ll likely have to undergo urine testing during your prenatal visits as well. Urine tests offer a variety of valuable information to your health care team, from understanding if your body is dehydrated to diagnosing temporary diabetes that can occur during pregnancy.
Another frightening yet surprisingly common effect of pregnancy is a mild form of anemia. A serum ferritin screening test will show doctors if you’re experiencing low blood iron levels and need supplements to feel more alert and less susceptible to falls from dizziness.
Finally, STD (sexually transmitted infection) testing is yet another common prenatal care test. Checking for sexually transmitted infections or diseases is solely to prevent a mother from passing on the STD to the baby or affecting their development. A blood test is conducted to check for hepatitis B, syphilis, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Understanding the most common types of prenatal testing available helps parents empower themselves during prenatal care and confidently raise concerns about their babies’ health. If you have a family history of genetic disorders or are concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing during pregnancy, ask your prenatal care team about all the other tests that could benefit your and your baby’s health in the long run.