Common Tests Used During Pregnancy
Below is a list of tests used to check the health of the mother or baby during pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about any of these tests.
- Fetal ultrasonography or ultrasound - done in the first three or four months of pregnancy (can be done as early as 8 weeks). This test is done to see how far along the pregnancy is. It also checks to see how the baby is developing. and can help determine the risk for any birth defects in the fetus.
- Serial ultrasounds or ultrasounds - done on a regular basis. It checks the baby's growth and the placenta. It measures the amount of amniotic fluid.
- Fetal echocardiogram - a test done between 20 to 22 weeks. It screens for fetal heart problems. It is done because heart problems are more common in babies of women with preexisting diabetes. This test can also be done at 32 to 33 weeks.
- Maternal serum alpha-fetoproteins (MSAFP) - a test to see if the baby is at risk for a neural tube defect. It is done at 15 to 18 weeks. This test is offered to all pregnant women.
- Fetal kick counting - an easy way to tell how the baby is doing. Fetal kick counts usually begin at 26 weeks. The mother counts how many times the baby moves in a certain period of time.
- The nonstress test (NST) - another way to check the baby's overall health. Two disc-shaped sensors are placed on the mother's stomach. One records the baby's heart rate. The other detects uterine contractions. This is often done at about 32 to 34 weeks. It may be done earlier and more often as needed.
- The contraction stress test (CST) - measures the baby's heart rate in response to mild uterine contractions. This test is used to assess the baby's well being. It is done after 32 to 34 weeks.
- A biophysical profile (BPP) - an ultrasound test and a check of the fetal heart. It measures the baby's breathing movements, body movement, muscle tone, amniotic fluid volume and heart rate. It is done after 28 weeks of pregnancy.
- Amniocentesis - involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid from around the baby. Often done before labor is induced. This test makes sure the baby's lungs are mature.
How can your doctor help you? Your doctor can explain why certain tests are needed. He/she can tell you how they are done and what to expect. He/she will explain the results. Your doctor may refer you to a perinatologist. This doctor treats high-risk pregnancies.