The simplest way of knowing that you are pregnant is the missed period. Along with a missed period a woman may feel nauseous, may need to urinate more frequently and feel tenderness in the breasts. When you go to the doctor in order to reconfirm your pregnancy, the doctor will check you for an enlarged uterus, softening of genital organs and during and internal vaginal examination the cervix will be seen to have taken on a purplish velvety look, typical of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Indicator: Blood / Urine Test
A blood or urine test can help detect the presence of a pregnancy. The blood or urine is tested for the presence of HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin. The developing placenta begins to produce this hormone to prevent menstruation and protect the pregnancy. For an earlier result blood test is more reliable.
High dose hormone tablets used to be given earlier to test pregnancy. IT would make the periods occur if there was no pregnancy. If there was a pregnancy and if the fetus was female there was a possibility that the tablet could produce masculinisation. Tablets are not used to test for pregnancy anymore. Instead, tablets with a different hormonal combinations are now used to abort an unwanted pregnancy. If tests or visit to the doctor confirm that you are pregnant, you must immediately start taking care of yourself and your baby by eating nutrition food, avoiding too much tea, coffee and colas, stopping alcohol, tobacco and indiscriminate use of medicines and tranquilizers.
Blood Tests During Pregnancy
A blood test will be taken to find out the hemoglobin content of the blood. Hemoglobin is the red coloring matter of the blood that carries life giving oxygen to all parts of the mother’s body including the baby. Hemoglobin levels tend to fall in pregnancy and could drop to as low as 9.5 gms/100 ml.
- Your blood group will also be noted in case you need blood transfusion in an emergency.
- The blood will be checked to see if it is rehsus negetive or rehsus positive.
- A blood test Hbs Ag is also recommended sometimes to test for hepatitis.
Common Blood Tests During Pregnancy
Here are the common blood tests a pregnant woman have to take
1. VDRL (Venereal Diseases Research Lab Test)
The Venereal Diseases Research Lab Test is a blood test that checks for the presence of any sexually transmitted diseases or venereal diseases. If, for instance, a woman is found to have syphilis, she can give birth to a deformed child. Both the woman and her husband should have the VDRL test. Medical supervision is therefore essential.
2. AFP (Alpha-Veto-Protein Test)
The Alpha-veto-protein test is a specialized blood test that can reveal if there are any major defects in the baby. The mother’s blood is checked for alpha-feto-protein which is a protein that is produced by the baby’s liver and is passed to the mother’s blood stream through the placenta. It is the most accurate between 6-18 weeks of pregnancy. If the test suggest that the baby is not normal it should be repeated. If the second test suggest similar results the fetus also should be checked by an ultrasound scan and amniocentesis.
A comprehensive blood test called TORCH test the blood for various infections like toxoplasma, syphilis, rubella or germal measles, cytomegalo-virus and herpes or hepatitis B.
4. HIV AIDS
A blood test Human Immunodeficiency virus or HIV if found indicate stronger possibility of developing AIDS. The time of transmission of infection to the baby could be within the womb or at the time of birth. Breast milk can also transmit the infection. A child born to a HIV infected mother should have regular investigative tests until the age of 6-8 months to check if the child has got the infection form the mother or not. If the mother has HIV infection, pregnancy can increase her chance of developing AIDS. However, if a woman is known to be HIV or AIDS infected and gets pregnant, recent research has shown that the use of two standard drugs azt and 3tc can block the passing of virus from the mother to baby. A drug called Nevirapine is also known to reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to the baby.
A urine test is routine in pregnancy. The urine will be analyzed for infection and for glucose which will show up if there is diabetes. Ketones may show up if you are vomiting a lot or not eating enough. In the late pregnancy albumin or protein in the urine will indicate per-eclempsia.
Internal Vaginal Examination
An internal examination could be done at the start of the pregnancy and at it’s end, and sometimes during it’s course. At the start of pregnancy it could be done to confirm the pregnancy and exclude any possibilities of abnormalities of the pelvis, vagina, or cervix. At the end of the pregnancy it could be done to check the readiness of the cervix or it’s riteness. Internal vaginal examination does no harm to the baby.
The doctor will examine your abdomen for it’s shape and size, for abdominal scars and for the movement of the fetus. By palpating your abdomen with one of both hands the doctor can gain a lot of information about the size of the baby, in what position the baby is lying and the presentation of the head.
- At 3 months the uterus can be felt in the lower abdomen, rising out of the pelvis.
- 5 1/2 months the uterus reaches the height of the naval
- 7 1/2 months the uterus will be halfway between the naval and the breastbone, or the region below the breast.
- In the 9th month the uterus will reach the area below the breast.
In Ultrasound, the sound waves are directed to the fetus inside the uterus of a pregnant woman which in turn show the pictures of the baby’s bones and tissues on the TV screen. When you go for the ultrasound scan, you must have a full bladder.
This is a procedure where a small amount of fluid is taken out from the pregnant mother’s abdomen (amniotic sack) to test for chromosomal and other abnormalities. It is not a routine test. The fluid which contain fetal cells can then be analyzed for detection of abnormalities of the nervous system, mental handicaps including mongolism or down syndrome, inherited disorders etc.
I would love to hear your experiences of going through these tests. Please leave me a comment and let me know. Subscribe our RSS to receive pregnancy advices.