pregnancy

The tests to have during pregnancy to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Being pregnant for the first time can be confusing.

Your friends, family, doctors and the internet are all telling you very different and conflicting things. (For the record, you should listen to the doctors.)

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It’s not that easy, however.

Because where does one even start?

The list of possible tests and check-ups available to undergo during pregnancy spans pages. So when it comes to figuring out exactly what is necessary to have tested as opposed to what isn’t, a hefty state of overwhelm can easily set in.

So, we’ve done it for you – a general list of procedures to ensure that when your beautiful baby (or babies) eventually arrive, they’re the happiest and healthiest they could possibly be.

No surprises. No third heads. No unexpected triplets.

Here it is: the comprehensive list of all the tests you should have during pregnancy to make sure everything is a-okay.

Ultrasound scans.

When to do it: a normal pregnancy entails one ultrasound in each trimester. Further ultrasounds will be preformed if abnormalities are detected in the initial one or if your doctor has any concerns.

How it works: a sonographer lubricates your belly with some gel, and passes a hand-held probe over it to detect sound waves. This provides a black and white image image of your baby in real-time.

What it’s for: as well as detecting the sex of the baby, ultrasounds help determine if the baby has any physical abnormalities.

The ultrasound in the first trimester acts as a dating scan.

This analyses how many weeks pregnant you are and determines a specific due date.

A sonographer lubricates your belly during an ultrasound, and passes a hand-held probe over it to detect soundwaves. Image via iStock.

According to Health Direct, the second trimester ultrasound scan id usually performed between 18 and 20 weeks and acts as an anomaly scan.

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This checks the baby's development, monitors the location of the placenta, and reveals the baby's gender (although not with 100 per cent accuracy) if the the parents wish to know.

An ultrasound is sometimes performed in the third trimester to monitor the baby's growth, fluid levels, and once again check positioning of the placenta.

Blood tests.

When to do them: throughout your pregnancy.

How it works: a vial of blood is withdrawn via a needle in your arm. It's then sent off for examination to detect anomalies within your blood.

What's it for: blood tests are used by medical professionals to detect everything from incurable diseases to vitamin deficiencies.

"As well as detecting deficiencies, blood tests also look for a number of infections that may affect your pregnancy or unborn baby." via iStock.

According to Pregnancy Birth Baby, during pregnancy, illnesses like anaemia (iron deficiency) are fairly common, causing fatigue, tiredness, and robbing your unborn baby of oxygen and nutrients. Blood tests identify these deficiencies and allow doctors to prescribe supplements to counteract them.

Read: The blood test that could help prevent stillbirth.

As well as detecting deficiencies, blood tests also look for a number of infections that may affect your pregnancy or unborn baby. This includes everything from HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) to Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

A mother should also ensure that as a result of blood tests, her blood group is known.

This allows her to be prepared should any crises arise in terms of blood loss during, or before labour.

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Image via iStock.
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Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

When to do it: Any time from 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

How it works: NIPT is performed as a type of blood test.

What's it for: This is a relatively new test that examines the DNA of the unborn baby, which is found in the mother's bloodstream.

NIPT lets you know of any genetic abnormalities in your unborn baby. Image via iStock.

Non-invasive pre-natal testing provides information about the baby's chromosomal composition, alluding to potential genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome.

If so-called 'red-flags' appear following an NIPT test (results are often suggestive but not conclusive), diagnostic tests can be undertaken to seek out further information. Your doctor will walk you through this process.

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The most important thing when it comes to having these tests done is that you consult your doctor; they will be your guide; they will let you know what you should have done and what you can pass on and talk you through all the results of all your tests.

You can find out more about the most important tests to seek out during pregnancy, here.

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