Prenatal Testing: What You Need to Know
If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, prenatal care should be at the top of your to do list, right along with baby names and picking out a crib. With the right prenatal care, both you and your baby’s health will be a priority through all nine months of pregnancy – and beyond.
What are prenatal tests?
Prenatal tests are medical tests that are completed at specific times throughout pregnancy. As a part of your prenatal care, obstetricians use prenatal testing to learn valuable information about mother and baby.
“Prenatal tests can help detect any problems that could affect both mom and/or baby,” says Angela Scroggins, 20-year OB nurse and manager of the St. Elizabeth Maternal Fetal Center. “Many are easy to diagnose and treat, such as infections. Other tests can help prepare for delivery and care for the baby after birth.”
St. Elizabeth offers all prenatal testing at our Maternal Fetal Center, including bloodwork, lab work, ultrasounds, fetal monitoring, diabetic testing/education/training and genetic testing/counseling.
Prenatal Testing 101
The Maternal Fetal Specialists at St. Elizabeth are here for all your prenatal care needs. Below is a list of the most common prenatal tests for mother and baby:
- Ultrasound – A diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of internal organs and the baby. This test is performed at multiple points during the pregnancy to track baby’s growth and development.
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns. The test, performed between 35 and 37 weeks, uses a cervical swab to determine if harmful GBS bacteria is present. A positive GBS test requires antibiotics during labor.
- Maternal Glucose Testing – Done via blood draw, the maternal glucose test is a one-hour challenge that measures glucose levels in the mother’s blood. If results from the one-hour test are abnormal, the mother will undergo a three-hour glucose tolerance test. Glucose testing is done between 24 and 28 weeks and checks for gestational diabetes.
- Standard Lab Work – At various points throughout pregnancy, standard lab work will be done, including blood draws and vaginal swabs. These tests are performed to evaluate complete blood count (CBC) levels as well as to check for HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These tests are important to ensure that mother and baby are receiving proper care and staying healthy.
- Urine Drug Screen – Urine is collected at multiple points in the pregnancy, checking for drugs and other harmful substances.
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) – this testing is done typically after 24 weeks. EFM uses waves to create tracings of uterine contractions and the baby’s heartbeat to monitor the baby’s well-being.
- Amniocentesis – A procedure that uses a needle to obtain a small sample of amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. This test is usually done between weeks 15-20 at a hospital and measures different components in the amniotic fluid. Amniocentesis testing is not performed routinely and is only done to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities and other disorders.
- Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – this test is performed by amniocentesis to obtain placental tissue, typically between 10-13 weeks. The baby’s genetic material is found in the placenta and CVS testing is used to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities and other disorders.
- Cell-Free Fetal DNA Test (NIPT) – this is a maternal blood draw that occurs after 10 weeks. This tests the baby’s DNA found in the mother’s blood, helping to determine the baby’s gender and if there are any genetic disorders.
- Kick Counts — This test is performed by the mother multiple times a day after 24 weeks. It measures the number of movements in a specific time frame, usually one hour. Kick counts help to track baby’s movements and can be a warning for a change in the baby’s health.
St. Elizabeth: Premier Maternal-Fetal Care
For more information about the prenatal testing and comprehensive maternal-fetal services available at St. Elizabeth, please call (859) 301-2445 or schedule an appointment by calling (859) 655-7400.