Healthy and Fit Pregnancy
Essential Prenatal Tests


Now that you’re pregnant, expect to be medicalized like you’ve never been before in your life. Due to scientific and medical developments, the list of prenatal tests that pregnant moms have to perform has dramatically grown longer.
The following tests are the essentials:

  • Blood pressure: This is necessary especially in the last trimester; elevating blood pressure can mean dangerous pregnancy-induced hypertension.
  • Weight check: This is to ensure that you’re gaining enough weight for your baby’s health. Your uterus’ growth is also noted down to make sure that your baby is growing well.
  • Blood test: This is an important standard test that helps establish your overall health and identify factors like blood type and cell count, iron level, Rh factor, and immunity to chicken pox and other diseases as well as to detect any sexually transmitted diseases or infections. However, this does not include testing specifically for STD.
  • Urine test: This monitors sugar and protein in your body. High sugar levels can suggest diabetes while high protein may show a treatable bladder infection. Protein in your urine, especially in the last trimester, could also indicate pregnancy-induced hypertension.
  • Fetal heart tones: Monitoring through a fetoscope (a type of stethoscope) or handheld Doppler device can reassure you that all is well with your baby.
  • Glucose Challenge Screening Test: This evaluates how your body processes sugar; you don’t need to fast prior to blood being drawn.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test/Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS): Fasting is required for this test. It measures glucose levels in your blood to check for Gestational Diabetes.
  • Regular ultrasound: This should be done, with or without a serious health risk, at different stages of your pregnancy to confirm and “date” it, to measure the uterus and fetus, to check for any problems, and to provide other useful information for the doctor.
  • Congenital Anomaly Screening: This is a detailed ultrasound of the baby, placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid. Performed between 24 to 28 weeks of your pregnancy, the sonographer checks the baby’s measurements and organs for possible problems.
  • Fundal height measurement: This is a regular check of your belly size using a tape measure and feeling the uterus. It’s important so the doctor can measure whether baby is growing accordingly and if you have ample amniotic fluid levels.
  • Hepatitis B Screening: This is important to ensure that newborns do not develop a chronic infection from the mother who is afflicted by an active Hep B infection.
  • PAP Smear: During pregnancy, this test screens for infections that could affect your pregnancy like sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV that causes genital warts or cervical cancer.

Before taking tests other than the essential, ask why it is being recommended. Discuss how the tests will be done as well as the options, risks, and alternatives to diagnosing potential problems or medical concerns. Go over what the results may mean with your husband and doctor, including the possibility of false-positives that could give you more stress and unnecessary anxiety. However, it may also be helpful to know in advance if your baby might have a problem so you can prepare accordingly.

Always keep in mind that the results may not show a problem that could pop up unannounced later on, or show something that may not really be there even if the prenatal test suggests it. Unclear and misleading results can take a mental and emotional toll that would not be best for your delicate condition, so don’t draw any conclusions without the expert guidance of health professionals.

Photo credits:

Philippine Association for Childbirth Education

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