Routine tests done in early pregnancy
11 December 2022
Written by Baby Bumps and Beyond Inc.
Are you pregnant? Do you have questions about your first prenatal appointment and routine pregnancy tests? Many people are often nervous about their first prenatal appointment because they don’t know what to expect. This can lead to a lot of research, which can become overwhelming - especially if this is your first baby!
This Baby Bumps and Beyond blog post will help guide you through the process of your first prenatal appointment and routine tests done early in your pregnancy.
What to expect at your first prenatal appointment
Your first prenatal appointment with your healthcare provider might be a bit longer than other prenatal appointments because this is when your healthcare provider will want to get to know you. They will go through a thorough medical history and also order some routine pregnancy tests.
You may be wondering; how will these tests be done but more importantly why are these tests being done? Well, you have come to the right place! We are going to be sharing info about some of the common routine tests done early in your pregnancy below.
Why are routine pregnancy tests done?
First, its important to know why these tests are done. Routine pregnancy tests are done to minimize pregnancy complications and to make sure you and your baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy, during childbirth and after the baby is born. Many problems found by these routine pregnancy tests can be treated during your pregnancy so that your baby is born healthy.
Some tests are done with a blood sample, a urine sample or a sample taken from your vagina, cervix, or rectum.
Generally, during your first prenatal visit your healthcare provider will talk to you about what you can expect during your pregnancy. This will be an opportunity for you to ask questions about these tests. We always suggest to make a list of questions either on a piece of paper or open up the “Notes” app in your iPhone or Android and write them down so that you don’t forget!
When will these routine pregnancy tests be done?
Generally, your health care provider will order Routine Blood Tests at your first prenatal visit: These tests will require you to go to a blood lab and have your blood drawn.
What routine blood tests tests will be done?
Your healthcare provider will want to check your Blood type & Rh factor. Why is this important? Your blood type will be documented on your file in the event that a blood transfusion is needed during the pregnancy or childbirth. Everyone’s blood is either Rh positive or Rh negative. If you are Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive, your body may produce antibodies which destroy your baby's blood cells. This can happen when your blood is mixed together, this is something that can occur during childbirth. According to the Society of Gynecologists of Canada, this usually isn’t a problem during your first pregnancy but the reaction that occurs during the first pregnancy can be a problem for any future pregnancies. So how can this be easily prevented? Your healthcare provider will give you an injection at 28 weeks gestation or in other situations when your blood mixes with the baby's blood.
Rubella is a virus that causes a mild illness in most people. Health Canada states that the symptoms of this illness are a temporary rash, mild fever, and aching joints. Some people don’t get any symptoms at all. According to the Society of Gynecologists of Canada, most Canadian women are either vaccinated for rubella during childhood or had this illness early in life. Because of this, they are immune to further infection. The rubella test is done to determine if you are immune because if you get rubella during the early months of her pregnancy and you are not immune, it can cause birth defects in the baby.
A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that is done to check your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron is stored in hemoglobin which is a component of red blood cells. If your iron levels are low, your healthcare provide may prescribe an iron supplement. White blood cells are important for your immune system. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting. All of which are important for you to remain healthy during your pregnancy and while giving birth.
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease that can harm your liver. A blood test is done to see if you are infected. Many women who are infected have no symptoms. Baby’s can get this infection from their mothers during birth, and are at high risk of liver disease. If you have Hepatitis B, your baby can be vaccinated just after birth to prevent their own infection.
There are some genetic conditions that are more common among people from specific ethnic groups. Your healthcare provider will do this blood test if you are at an increased risk for certain blood disorders. Sometimes these tests are done before or while you are pregnant.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. Every woman is offered HIV testing. If you test positive, there are medications you can take to prevent the baby from becoming infected.
VDRL is a screening test for syphilis and is done through a blood test to check for antibodies. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. Untreated syphilis can cause a stillbirth or neurological damage to your baby. It is treated with antibiotics by your healthcare provider.
Other tests that are done
Your healthcare provider may also suggest doing tests for other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. These tests can be done through a urine test or swab. These can both be treated safely during pregnancy to avoid harm to your baby.
Sounds like a lot of testing for your first prenatal appointment, doesn’t it?! The important thing to remember is that early detection is the most important thing and that all of these tests are done so that you and your baby are healthy during your pregnancy, childbirth and after the baby is born.
- Make a list of questions you want to ask your healthcare provider at your appointment
- Routine prenatal tests are important because most health issues that arise early in pregnancy can be treated
Society of Gynecologists of Canada – www. SOGC.org
Ontario Prenatal Education Key messages
Our future blog post will feature the following topics:
- What to expect at subsequent prenatal appointments
- How to choose a healthcare provider
- Staying healthy during your pregnancy
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