There are a lot of prenatal tests that happen over the course of the average pregnancy. Preparing yourself ahead of time will help you decide which ones you would like to choose, which ones you may not need and what to do when presented with the option of certain tests.
Did you know that there are a variety of pregnancy tests? There are tests that you can do at home and those that only your doctor or midwife can. Some pregnancy tests use urine for testing, while others use blood. Both types of pregnancy tests are looking for the same thing: hCG. More information.
There are many tests that can happen in the first trimester. Many time, as a new mom-to-be finds out, these tests come with decisions that you need to make quickly because they are time sensitive. This means if you aren't prepared you may be caught by surprise at your prenatal visits. More information.
The second trimester is when many moms expect to hear about prenatal testing. From the blood tests that look for Down Syndrome and Neural Tube Defects (NTD) to ultrasounds, moms are ready for these tests. Though there are also genetic tests that are offered to some mothers depending on screening tests or on your personal medical history. This also include the amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), ultrasound and others. More information.
You might think that you're home free in the third and final trimester. Though, the truth is, there are many prenatal tests that can be done. Some of these tests are very similar to the tests of other trimesters, but can be used for something completely different. An example may be that an amniocentesis is used for one thing in the first and second trimester (genetic make up) but something completely different for the third trimester (fetal lung maturity). More information.
An ultrasound is a very basic pregnancy test used in all three trimesters of pregnancy. There are two types of ultrasounds that can be done for pregnancy: vaginal and abdominal. Part of the decision on which type of ultrasound you will receive will depend on what they are looking to find and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Typically the earlier in pregnancy you are, the more likely you are to require a vaginal ultrasound, though later in pregnancy, this may be used again to look at cervical length. More information.
There are many things that can happen in an ultrasound, but in general these are scheduled visits for routine events in pregnancy. You may only have one scheduled ultrasound or even none. Some practitioners choose to do an early ultrasound in pregnancy and one between 18-22 weeks. There are other things that may cause an ultrasound to be needed. In general, for an abdominal ultrasound there is nothing special you need to do after 20 weeks. Prior to this point, you may need to drink water to have a full bladder for a better view of the baby. Transvaginal ultrasound does not require this type of preparation. More information.
Your ultrasound will be done by your doctor, midwife or a trained technician. Always ensure that the person doing your ultrasound is trained to do obstetric ultrasound and credentialed to do so, if you don't, you can have errors. The details of your exam will be explained to you by your practitioner. In some areas you can view the screen while having your exams, but this is not true everywhere. Sometimes you can have small photos or even a DVD made of the session. More information.