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Categories > Pregnancy and Childbirth > Pregnancy: What to expect


Congratulations, mom-to-BE! The next several months are a time of excitement as you watch your belly grow. To ensure that everything is going well, your healthcare provider will have you undergo several tests. Some, like urine tests, will be done routinely, while others will be done just once.

Here’s a timeline of what tests to expect:

First trimester

1. First trimester screening

Blood tests and ultrasound can detect Down syndrome and trisomy 18 risks. The blood tests measure substances in your blood; the ultrasound (called nuchal translucency screening) measures thickness at the back of the fetus’s neck. A larger measurement could mean there’s a problem.

2. Carrier status

Simple blood tests can determine whether you carry the gene for conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and Tay-Sachs disease.

3. Immunity

Blood samples can help determine your immunity to conditions like rubella and chickenpox.

4. Infection

Blood, cervical cells or urine is collected to determine if you have a bladder infection, HIV, sexually transmitted infection, hepatitis B or other infection.

5. Hemoglobin test

A blood sample is taken to determine if you have anemia.

6. Antibody screening

Your provider will do blood work to determine your Rh status. If your blood cells are Rh-negative, and your baby’s are positive, your body could produce antibodies that destroy your baby’s red blood cells. This incompatibility can lead to jaundice, anemia, brain damage, heart failure and even death for the infant. Since you won’t know your baby’s Rh type until birth, your provider will give you a shot called an Rh immune globulin to prevent problems.

Second trimester

7. Second trimester screening

This test, also called a triple or quad screen, measures three or four substances in your blood to detect up to 95 percent of Down syndrome cases. If results are abnormal, your provider may recommend more testing.

8. Gestational diabetes

Your blood sugar is measured after swallowing a sugary drink to determine whether your body has trouble processing glucose. If the results are abnormal, you’ll undergo a second test. If the results are still abnormal, you have gestational diabetes, which can be treated with diet and medication.

9. Detailed anatomy

Your healthcare provider may order an ultrasound to examine the baby for defects.

Third trimester

Some testing may be repeated during this trimester. You will also receive your antibody shot if you have an Rh-negative blood type.

10. Group B streptococcus

Specimens are taken from the vagina and rectal areas to see if you carry these bacteria, which can be damaging to a baby during birth if not treated. If you test positive, you’ll get antibiotics when you go into labor.