Pregnancy Tests and Ultrasounds
Welcoming a new child into your life can be overwhelming, and each trimester of pregnancy has its own unique challenges. Fortunately, modern medicine and healthcare allows you to get support, screening and assessment to help you support the growth and development of your baby. If you are a new parent, you might not know the routine tests recommended by obstetricians. To help you prepare for your pregnancy, here is an outline of the screening and testing you will be recommended as you go through pregnancy.
Test to confirm pregnancy
If you take an at-home test or think you are pregnant, you can visit your GP to confirm pregnancy. This test will use a blood or urine sample for HCG, a substance which usually indicates that someone is pregnant.
Routine tests include:
- Maternal health screening
- Nuchal translucency scanning
- Non-invasive prenatal testing
- Ultrasound scans
Maternal health screening
This screening will allow your doctor to determine your health and any issues that may impact your pregnancy. A blood test is taken to check for:
- Your blood type: determine if you are Rh-negative or positive
- Immunity to Rubella
- Signs of infection (HIV, hepatitis B)
- Iron levels
- Gestational diabetes
You will also get a urine test and a vaginal swab test.
Maternal screenings explained
The main tests in the above list will likely be:
Rh-negative or positive
As mentioned, Rh blood type can lead to risks, namely if an Rh-negative mother delivers an Rh-positive baby. This test will occur during your 26–28-week antenatal appointment, your 34–36-week appointment as well as a test on your baby after giving birth.
Rubella can be incredibly dangerous for newborn babies, particularly if the parent contracts it within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. It can lead to permanent defects in the child, which is why parents who are not immune are encouraged to get vaccinated.
The glucose test will test for gestational diabetes, a temporary form of diabetes that some women may experience. This may influence your diet during pregnancy and screenings.
Your doctor will recommend you get a flu shot as well as the adult dtPa vaccine which will protect both you and your baby.
Maternal serum screening (MSS)
The MSS is a blood test that will be done at different times in each trimester:
- 9 to 13 weeks (first trimester)
- 14 to 20 weeks (second trimester) + 6 days gestation
Non-invasive prenatal testing
NIPT is used to test for the risk of certain genetic conditions such as Down’s Syndrome (trisomy 21), Edward’s (trisomy 18) and Patau’s (trisomy 13) syndrome. The test can be done after 10+ weeks gestation.
Ultrasounds are performed once every trimester and will test for different factors depending on the trimester.
The ultrasound is used during the first trimester after 11-13 weeks pregnant to:
- Determine the due date
- Calculate the number of embryos
- Check the development and well being of the baby
- Perform nuchal translucency test and 1st trimester anatomy scan
The ultrasound in the second trimester – at 18-20 weeks- is used to:
- Pick up any structural abnormalities
- Determine the baby’s sex
The ultrasound in the third trimester is used to
- Check the baby’s growth
- Check the positioning of the placenta
- Check the baby’s presentation
Invasive diagnostic tests
Invasivediagnostic tests are used if there are concerns about potential chromosomal conditions in the baby. These includes:
- Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling.
Getting the right help
If you are feeling uncertain about what tests and screenings you will need to take you can get support from your GP, a midwife or your obstetrician. OMNI Ultrasound and Gynaecological Care can also offer you support and guidance during this time.
Reach out on 1300 851 968.