Pregnancy is a critical period in a woman’s life, requiring careful monitoring and specialized medical care to ensure the health of both the mother and the developing baby. In the United States, a series of tests and screenings are recommended throughout pregnancy to detect any potential issues early and manage them effectively. This guide outlines the essential tests and screenings pregnant women should undergo, along with a suggested schedule.

First Trimester (0-13 weeks)

  1. Initial Prenatal Visit:
  • Medical History Review: Comprehensive review of medical, surgical, family, and obstetric history.
  • Physical Exam: General physical exam including blood pressure, weight, and height measurement.
  • Blood Tests:
    • Blood type and Rh factor
    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Immunity to rubella (German measles)
    • Hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV screening
  • Urine Test: To check for infections, protein, and sugar levels.
  • NIPT. Noninvasive prenatal testing: It is a blood test performed at 10 weeks and screens the baby for chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome. Also the test will determine the gender of the baby.
  • Genetic Screening Options:
    • Cell-Free Fetal DNA Testing: Non-invasive blood test to detect certain genetic conditions.

Second Trimester (14-26 weeks)

  1. 16-18 Weeks:
  • Quad Screen: Blood test to measure levels of four substances in the mother’s blood (AFP, hCG, Estriol) to assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects.
  • The AFP test can be combined with cell-free genetic testing for a more comprehensive assessment of potential genetic conditions.
  1. 18-20 Weeks:
  • Anatomy Ultrasound: Detailed ultrasound to check the baby’s development, including organs, limbs, and facial features. It also assesses the placenta and amniotic fluid.
  1. 24-28 Weeks:
  • Glucose Screening Test: To check for gestational diabetes. If results are high, a follow-up glucose tolerance test is done.
  • Repeat Blood Tests: For hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, and possibly antibody screening if the mother is Rh-negative.

Third Trimester (27-40 weeks)

  1. 28-36 Weeks:
  • Rhogam Shot: For Rh-negative mothers to prevent Rh incompatibility.
  • Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Screening: Swab test to check for GBS bacteria in the vagina and rectum.
  1. 36-40 Weeks:
  • Weekly Check-ups: Monitoring the baby’s position, heart rate, and mother’s blood pressure.
  • Non-Stress Test (NST): To monitor the baby’s heart rate and movements if there are concerns about the baby’s health.

Houston Obstetrics and OBGYN Clinics

In Houston, pregnant women have access to high-quality OBGYN care through offices such as Houston Plaza OB/GYN. We offer comprehensive prenatal care, including routine screenings and tests, high-risk pregnancy management, and in-house laboratory services. (Read also “WHAT PREGNANCY IS CONSIDERED HIGH-RISK PREGNANCY?“).

Houston Plaza OB/GYN Highlights:

  • Over 50 years of medical practice.
  • OBGYN board-certified doctors.
  • High-risk obstetrics care.
  • In-house laboratory for convenient testing.
  • Nearly 40k patients served.

Conclusion

Regular prenatal care, including timely tests and screenings, is crucial for the health and well-being of both mother and baby. By following the recommended schedule and consulting with experienced obstetricians, such as those at Houston OB/GYN clinics, pregnant women can ensure a healthier pregnancy journey. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized care and to address any concerns you may have during your pregnancy.

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