Prenatal exams

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As soon as you suspect that you might be pregnant, call to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you will have to take several medical exams. Don’t be anxious; taking these prenatal tests is a very normal procedure, and these tests are one of the many ways to check on your well-being and that of your growing baby. If you are a first-time mom, expect to have at least 10 antenatal visits. However, if you are a second-timer you can expect around seven.

 

Months

Time of visit

Goals of visit

Why

1st trimester

2-3 months

8-14 weeks

1. Medical history.

1. To check your general health status and in order to check if any pregnancy risk factors do exist: your age, diabetes, hypertension, etc.

2. Urine test.

2. To test if there is any urinary tract infection.
To detect the presence of “albumin” (a protein found in your blood which can indicate the existence of a related disease) or glucose (which is a diabetes indicator).

3. Blood test.

3. To identify your blood type and Rh status.
To check for anemia.
Test for syphilis, hepatitis B, and immunity to rubella and chicken pox.

4. Pelvic exam.

4. To check for abnormal cells.

5. Due date calculation.

 
Month 3

12-15 weeks

1. Ultrasound test.

1. To confirm that your pregnancy is on the right track; to check your baby’s development.

2. To show your baby’s heart beat.

3. To let you know if you are expecting more than one baby.

4. To assess the risk of Down’s Syndrome.

Tip: The scan test is a privilege moment where you can experience for the first time how your body is developing a new life. So let your husband be part of this unique experience by accompanying you to your prenatal visits.

 

Months

Time of visit

Goals of visit

Why

2nd trimester

Month 4

16- 19 weeks

1. Gather information.

1. To assess your physical and emotional well-being (if you are still having nausea, if you are feeling your baby’s moves, etc.)

2. Record your weight.

2. To check if you are within the normal range. (Check “My Nutrition” to see how much you should gain).

3. Check your urine and blood pressure. 3. To check if there is any urinary tract infection and to detect the presence of glucose or albumin in your urine -> signs of preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or gestational diabetes. Check “My Nutrition” part to learn more about these diseases.

4. Triple or quadruple blood test.

4. To evaluate your baby's risk of conditions such as spina bifida (check “My Nutrition” for more detailed information) and Down’s syndrome.

Month 5

20-23 weeks

1. Same tests as the previous month.

1. General check-up.

2. Fetal anomaly scan.

2. A detailed scan of your baby. The scan operator will look at your baby’s head, face, spine, limbs, heart and bladder. He/she may also be able to tell you the sex of your baby if you would like to know.

Month 6

24-27 weeks

1. The usual tests are repeated: urine and blood pressure test, recording your weight, vaginal exam.

1. General check-up.

2. Listen to your baby’s heart beat.

2. Checking your baby's heartbeat will become a regular part of every prenatal visit. You may want to bring your partner along so he can share in the thrill of hearing this dramatic sign of the life you've created together.

3. Examine your belly.

3. To get a sense of the size of your growing uterus and baby.

From mid-pregnancy and on, he/she will use a measuring tape to check your height, the distance between your pubic bone and the top of your uterus, to estimate your baby's size and growth rate.

Tip: Don’t miss any of these appointments. Remember, each visit is important to reassure yourself and your partner about the health of your baby.

 

Months

Time of visit

Goals of visit

Why

3rd trimester

Month 7

28-31 weeks

1. Same tests as month 6.

1. General check-up.

2. Give you a shot of Rh immune globulin, if you need one.

2. An injection of Rh immune globulin on the 28 week will prevent your body from producing antibodies for the last part of your pregnancy.

Month 8

32-35 weeks

1. The routine monthly exams.

1. General check-up.

2. Measure the distance between your pubic bone and the top of your uterus (this is called your fundal height) and compare it to your baby's gestational age, as well as to the measurement from your previous visit. 2. To make sure your baby's growth rate is normal.
3. Last ultrasound test 3. To make sure your baby's growth rate is normal and to check your baby’s position (head-down position or breech: bottom down).
Month 9

36-40 weeks

1. Same tests of month 8 are repeated.   1. Last check-up.
2. Determine your baby’s position.

2. Decide on the type of delivery. (Check “My dream comes true” to see the different types of delivery).

3. Provide pregnancy counseling.

3. Discuss with you the signs of labor.

Tip: Discuss any concern with your gynecologist. It is your right.

Other tests you might be asked to do:

Test Name

When

Why

Nuchal fold translucency scan

11-14 weeks

This ultrasound scan measures the depth of fluid under the skin at the back of your baby's neck, as babies with Down's have more fluid here.

CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling)

11-14 weeks

This diagnostic test looks for conditions including Down's, sickle cell and thalassaemia.

Amniocentesis

15 weeks

To check for things such as Down's syndrome.