Pregnancy's first trimester.  First-trimester antenatal tests: all you need to know

Pregnancy's first trimester. First-trimester antenatal tests: all you need to know


First Trimester Checks This month you'll be offered some basic antenatal tests that will provide vital information to safeguard your health and the development of your baby. These involve blood and urine tests that check your general health and ensure that you are not harbouring any infections or diseases that might pose a risk to your baby.
EARLY TESTS Good antenatal care involves certain tests in the first trimester that act as safeguards against potential complications, and help you find out more about your pregnancy and how your little one is developing, right from the first trimester during pregnancy. The tests we describe in this newsletter are carried out at the first antenatal visit or soon thereafter.

1. Blood Test. This will be carried out to screen for:

? RHESUS FACTOR This gives your blood type (A, B, AB or O), and determines your Rh status. The vast majority of people are Rh-positive. If you are found to be Rh-negative and your partner is Rh-positive, your foetus’ blood may be positive and could be incompatible with yours. This is not something that affects either of you now. So don’t worry. Doctors need to know in case it has implications for future pregnancies. The rhesus factor is no longer something that causes a real health risk as any potential problems are easily anticipated and treated.
? ANAEMIA Low red-blood-cell count is a common problem during pregnancy. This is often caused by an iron deficiency.
? RUBELLA (German Measles) It is important to establish your immunity to this disease even before the first trimester during pregnancy as it can be harmful to foetuses. You should have received the Rubella vaccine as part of your childhood inoculations, so you have nothing to worry about. If you are not immune, though, you'll need to take simple precautions to keep yourself healthy during pregnancy, and you'll be given an immunisation right after your baby is born.
? HEPATITIS B If undetected, this virus causes a risk to your health, and could affect the baby after delivery. If you test positive in the first trimester, you will be monitored more closely and your baby will be vaccinated at birth.
? You will also be offered an HIV test. This is specifically because there now exist some very effective protective treatments that can be used during pregnancy and delivery to prevent the virus being passed to the baby.

2. Urine Specimen. Your urine will be routinely tested from the first trimester to make sure you are not showing any signs of diabetes or infections of the kidneys and bladder. Your midwife will also check your urine at each visit for traces of protein or glucose that can be early indicators of gestational diabetes and toxaemia (pre-eclampsia). All this is done to prevent potential problems.

3. You may also be offered tests for:
? STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) Some common diseases such as Gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis (that can all be easily treated), could have serious implications for you and your baby if left undetected. Testing (first trimester during pregnancy) is simple, and the treatments are very effective.
? Bacterial vaginosis (BV) This is a common genital infection that normally presents little risk, but if left untreated can increase the risk of preterm labour. A course of antibiotics will safely clear it up.
? Tuberculosis (TB) If your doctor feels you might be at risk of carrying this disease, you will be offered a simple skin test. Tb can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

The large number of tests offered to you during your first antenatal visits may seem a bit daunting. Don’t be alarmed, they are only precautionary steps designed to keep you and your baby as safe and healthy as possible from the very first trimester. And you will most likely forget all about them by the time you get home!


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