Prenatal Exams, Tests, and Procedures
- Leakage of fluid
- Regular movement of your baby once you start feeling your baby moving
- Swelling of your hands or feet
- Medication use
What Will My Healthcare Provider Look for During Prenatal Exams?
- Symptoms of early pregnancy, such as morning sickness, breast enlargement and tenderness, and frequent urination
- An embryo, viewed with ultrasound
- Enlarged uterus
- Enlarged abdomen
- Fetal heartbeat
- Movement of the baby
- Changes in your vagina, cervix, and skin
What Routine Tests and Procedures Can I Expect to Have?
- Pelvic exam, to determine the size of your pelvis and uterus
- Pap smear, very early in the pregnancy if you have not had a recent one
- Weight measurement and blood pressure (at each visit)
- Determination of gestational age and due date
- Urine tests to check for protein, sugar, and bacteria
- Assessment of the size and position of the fetus
- Blood tests to check for anemia, diabetes, blood type, Rh factor, rubella antibodies, syphilis, hepatitis, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases
- Exam of your lower legs and ankles for swelling
What Additional Tests Might Be Ordered?
- Triple/quadruple blood screen test—This test gives more information about risk of birth defects and includes tests for alpha-fetoprotein, conjugated estradiol, and human chorionic gonadotrophin, as well as Inhibin A in the quadruple screen. If the results are positive, this screening test may be supplemented by an ultrasound or other tests to look for abnormalities.
- Nonstress tests—These tests check changes in the baby’s heart rate as they moves.
- Ultrasound—The ultrasound is used for dating of pregnancy and detecting abnormalities.
- Genetic testing—Preconceptional or prenatal gene carrier screening is recommended for genetic diseases in individuals are at higher risk of these conditions. Examples of people that may need this testing include persons of Eastern European Jewish descent.
- Amniocentesis—This test is used for detecting chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects.
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)—CVS is used for detecting chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects.
What Tests Are Given to Women With High Risk Factors?
- Amniocentesis to determine fetal lung development
- Blood tests to assess clotting and liver function
- Biophysical profile—to check fetal health with ultrasound and a non-stress test
- Rh antibody screening—repeated at 28-30 weeks if you are Rh negative
- Stress tests to check your baby's health by monitoring for heart rate during uterine contractions
- Vaginal culture for fetal fibrinectin—a screening test for likelihood of premature labor
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
March of Dimes http://www.marchofdimes.org
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
First-trimester screening for aneuploidy [committee opinion]. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2004 July;296.
Group B strep (BGS). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/prevention.html. Updated June 1, 2014. Accessed December 30, 2014.
Prenatal care. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/prenatalcare%5Fvisits.html. Updated May 2011. Accessed December 30, 2014.
Prenatal care and tests. Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/prenatal-care-tests.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed December 30, 2014.
Prenatal and preconceptional carrier screening for genetic diseases in individuals of Eastern European Jewish descent [committee opinion]. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2004;298.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 29, 2014. Accessed December 30, 2014.
Ultrasonography in pregnancy [practice bulletin]. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2004 Dec;58.
What to expect at your doctor's visit: 1st trimester. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyblog/2011/10/what-to-expect-at-your-doctors-visit-1st-trimester/. Accessed December 30, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/30/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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