The Importance of Prenatal Tests



I know it seems like we take a lot of blood from you during pregnancy, but it is quite important to see how your body is functioning during pregnancy and ensure you and the baby are healthy. If you are ever unsure about a test, discuss it with your doctor.

The first blood testing done, which is usually at your first visit, whether that be 10 weeks or 20 weeks, depending when you first see the doctor, is the prenatal panel. This includes testing for diseases that could affect the pregnancy such as hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV. It also tests your iron levels, blood type, and any infections in your urine, which means there will also be a urinalysis done with the blood work. You may also get an AFP or alpha feto protein test at 15-20 weeks which screens for baby’s risk of genetic problems such as Down Syndrome and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

The next blood testing is done at 24-28 weeks to screen for gestational diabetes. You will also have an ultrasound  to check your baby’s anatomy, fluid levels and placenta.

Lastly, your doctor will perform a vaginal swab at 35 weeks that tests for GBS or group beta strep, a bacteria that could affect baby during delivery. This bacteria is seen in 30% of all women and you may never know you have it because it won’t cause any problems. If this test is positive, you will be treated with antibiotics when you are in active labor and may stay in the hospital for 48 hours after delivery to be sure there aren’t any complications.

Your doctor may do more testing depending on your health history and any complications that arise during your pregnancy. These tests outlined above are the basic tests all moms need during pregnancy so be sure to make appointments by at least 12 weeks into your pregnancy. All of these prenatal tests are very important, because they can affect how and when you deliver.

Tamsen Carson, PA

Tamsen Carson is an OB/GYN physician assistant with Renown Health. She provides essential prenatal, pregnancy and post-pregnancy care to women, including delivering babies. Tamsen completed her OB/GYN Physician Assistant residency at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, CA and has been a part of the Renown Health team for more than five years.