Pregnancy Tests and Why
So, now you know that you are pregnant! Congrats! There are a few tests you can take to ensure yours and your baby's optimum health. I believe some are a must and other are options based on your age, health, and preference. Full disclosure: I am not a doctor trying to tell you what to do and not do. These are simply suggestions I want to share with you.
The nuchal (say "NEW-kuhl") translucency screening: This test is done at 11 or 14 weeks. I didn't do it since I was away at that time. This test can be taken or not. The DNA blood test will give you the same results. At least this is what my doctor states. Anyway this test is a simple ultrasound to measure the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of the developing baby's neck. This test is to find if there are early signs of down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart problems.
hCG Test: Your home pregnancy test came out positive, but if you want to have additional confirmation, this is the blood test to confirm that you are in fact having a baby. This can be done as early as 10 days from when you missed your last period. I didn't do this one since I have did 2 regular pregnancy tests and then went directly in for a sonogram where our little bean was very clearly showing. hGB stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin which is the pregnancy hormone that releases into your blood stream once pregnancy starts. Again, this is optional.
Sonograms: These you will do a bunch of and is the simplest way to have a "date" with your baby. The sonogram will show you everything from day 1 when your baby is just a tiny cell to when he/she is a fully developed little human. I love seeing my baby girl. Be aware this is not done only over your tummy, as many movies shows, but is also done vaginally. It doesn't hurt but it is a rod that will enter the vaginal canal and this will help the doctor to also measure the cervix and show how much liquid there is in the belly which means the baby's kidneys are healthy.
Integrated screening and sex test: This is a blood test done about at 10 weeks of your pregnancy. The doctor will take a bunch of blood to test for various birth defects like down syndrome chromosomes, regular screening, Rh, glucose, hepatitis, rubella, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases. During this blood test, they can also detect the sex of the baby which you can choose to know or not. As this was my first baby I wanted to know since I felt I would have a baby girl and I was right.
Full Anatomy: Between 18 and 21 weeks your doctor will ask you to do a full Level 1 or 2 anatomy test of your baby. This test takes about 30-40 minutes depends on your baby behavior. The test is done via sonogram. The tech will analyze your baby fully checking from head to toes every part, eyes, nose, sex if you want to know, fingers, brain, spine, arms, and legs. Most places they can also do a 3D scan which is very interesting. Once done the doctor will come in and tell you if anything if off. This is the most detailed screening you will receive of your baby. And your rewards for staying laying down and have someone shaking your belly to make sure to move the baby and allow to show everything you get many pictures of your baby which you can then share with family, friends or have for yourself.
Amniocentesis: This test is done between the 15th and 20th week, which means your baby is already well developed. Normally this is offered to women who are after the age of 30 or with genetic risks since it's a more invasive test and can lead to miscarriages. This involves some fluid taken from the amniotic sac with a syringe and then will be tested for abnormal genes, lungs maturity and infections. I didn't have to do it but some women have to because of age or family disease.
Glucose Test: This is done at your 24th to 26th week to check if you developed gestational diabetes. When pregnant you might develop diabetes which will bring your baby to grow larger then normal. Normally if you don't have any relatives with diabetes, you have a regular healthy lifestyle and diet, are in a low risk ethnic group or you had no problem in your other pregnancy then this test is not absolutely needed. But this is your choice. Know that if you fit any of the above criteria you have a 5% changes to have it. Also, this test will involve drinking a very sugary glucose liquid, filled with many chemical ingredients, then sit for one hour and finally take a blood test to confirm this. If this comes positive you might need to take step 2 of this test which will involve more drinking of that glucose liquid, waiting 3 hours without rejecting the drink and do another blood test. This is another test I personally opted out so I can't give you my experience but I feel unless necessary it brings stress to both you and the baby.
After these tests are done all you'll need to do are your sonogram routines and unless something irregular happens in the last months just wait for labor (which is the biggest challenge you will endure)! I haven't arrived there yet so I can't give you my experience just yet. Stay tuned for more info and stories as we get closer to meeting our Baby Bean!
If there are any specific topics you all want me to cover please let me know!