Peeing on a stick is only the first of many tests you can expect to have once you become pregnant! While some you may expect, there are others that might surprise you.
To ensure you're prepared and to avoid any surprises, we spoke with Dr. Kirsten Cleary, ob/gyn at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center for a breakdown of what to expect while expecting.
The First Visit
Your first visit will usually be around weeks eight to 10. It is at this appointment that Cleary says, "Your doctor will likely order a sonogram to establish your due date, check for multiple gestations and order a series of routine blood tests including your blood type, blood count, screening tests for infections such as syphilis, hepatitis and HIV, and check your immunity to rubella virus." If you're due for one, you may also have a pap smear and a screening for STDs.
Next up is a genetic screening test performed between 11 and 14 weeks. Cleary explains, "The test is comprised of an ultrasound measurement of the skin thickness behind the fetal neck, and a blood test. It is a screening testing for Down syndrome and other chromosomal problems, and it detects about 90% of cases of Down syndrome. "
Next, you can opt NIPT, or non-invasive prenatal testing which is a DNA test of maternal blood. This test screens for some of the most common fetal chromosomal abnormalities , and can identify about 98% of cases. This test can be performed any time after 10 weeks.
You'll have more ultrasounds, too. Aside from the including a "dating" ultrasound, which is often done at the first prenatal visit, the next ultrasound is usually in conjunction with the first trimester screen.
Once you hit 18 to 20 weeks, you can also expect a Level 2 ultrasound, which is a detailed survey of fetal anatomy. This is often known as the "anatomy scan," where you can get an in-depth look at your growing baby, and it can help to diagnose any problems or malformations.
You've probably heard from pregnant friends about the sometimes-dreaded glucose test, which screens for gestational diabetes. This is typically done between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and includes drinking a sugary drink, then having your blood levels checked afterwards; however, Cleary explains, "in women who are at higher risk for diabetes based on a family history, a previous large baby or obesity, this screening is offered earlier in pregnancy."
Other Standard Tests
"Other standard testing includes screening for group B streptococcus, a vaginal swab done at 36 weeks, which checks for presence of GBS, a bacterium that lives in the GI tract of about 20% of people," says Cleary. She elaborates that this generally does not cause illness in healthy adults, but is dangerous for newborns. So, if you have a positive test you are treated with antibiotics during labor to reduce the chance that the baby will be infected.
Genetic carrier screening is also popular to check for risks of inherited genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, Fragile X syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy and others. Cleary says that Zika screening, as well as tuberculosis screening may also be offered.
"If you a patient has a family or personal history of heart problems or autoimmune disease, your doctor may send you for a more specialized ultrasound to check the baby's heart," says Cleary. Adding, "If you have chronic medical problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes your doctor may want to check your kidney and heart function."
Ultimately, Cleary says, "The healthier you are at the beginning of pregnancy, the more likely the pregnancy is to be a healthy one."