When you find out you are expecting a tiny bundle of joy, you cannot express how overwhelming that feeling is. Now you have to prepare for the next few months and ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a beautiful, perfect baby.
To make sure that your baby is healthy, you will need to do certain things and follow certain guidelines. It is natural for every parent to worry about the well-being of their unborn child. One of the steps you will need to take to ensure your baby is in the best of health is to have prenatal tests conducted.
What are prenatal tests?
These are tests that are conducted during your pregnancy that allows your doctor and you to learn about the health of your baby. Some of these tests are routine such as blood, urine, and so on. Prenatal tests are specific tests that are conducted at different levels of your pregnancy to identify if your developing baby has any health issues or not.
Types of prenatal tests
Your prenatal tests include a whole set of tests that include both diagnostic and screening tests. They are:
Screening tests: These prenatal tests can help your doctor identify if your baby is likely to have birth defects or not. Some of these defects could be inherited disorders, which is why these tests are important. These include blood tests, ultrasounds, and prenatal cell-free DNA screening. These tests are conducted during the first and second trimesters of your pregnancy, but these do not always form a definitive diagnosis. You should consider diagnostic tests as well.
First and second trimester screening tests: You will be subjected to blood tests to detect if your baby could suffer from conditions such as Down syndrome and other chromosomal issues.
Prenatal cell-free DNA screening: This is a complicated test that studies the fetal DNA isolated from the mother’s blood to identify if there are chances of chromosomal problems like Down syndrome. This test can also provide you information on the child’s gender and blood type.
Diagnostic tests: If the previous screening tests indicate a possible health issue, you will have to consider an invasive prenatal diagnostic test. This will give you a definite diagnosis. However, you should be aware that some invasive diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis could carry a small risk of miscarriage.
Different prenatal tests
There are several prenatal tests that would be suggested if required by your doctor. They are listed below:
Glucose tolerance test
Fetal non-stress test (NST)
Triple screen test
Quad screen test
Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening (MSAFP)
Cordocentesis: Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS)
First trimester screening
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
One thing you need to remember about prenatal screening tests is that they are optional and it is important that you and your partner reach an informed decision regarding prenatal testing, especially if the tests could possibly identify an untreatable condition. Normal results can put your mind at ease, but if the tests were indicative of some kind of defect, you would have to make very difficult decisions, including whether you should continue the pregnancy or not. Discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before you decide. Also, meet a genetic counselor who can help with a more definite evaluation of the results, diagnoses, and treatment.