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Pregnancy and Newborns

Pregnancy Tests & Procedures

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Fast Facts
A Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that may be used during pregnancy. The Doppler ultrasound allows the medical staff to evaluate blood flow in the umbilical cord. It may also be used to look at blood flow in the placenta or fetus, the American College of Radiology says.
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Common Tests During Pregnancy
Common Tests During Pregnancy The following are some of the more common tests performed during pregnancy: First Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests First trimester screening is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. This screening process can help to determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. Screening tests may be used alone or in combination with other tests. There are three parts of first trimester screening: U...
Maternal and Fetal Testing
Maternal and Fetal Testing To evaluate the health of a pregnancy and fetus, many types of prenatal tests may be performed. Listed in the directory below are some, for which we have provided a brief overview. Maternal and Fetal Testing Overview First Trimester Screening Second Trimester Screening Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Ultrasound Chorionic Villus Sampling Amniocentesis Fetal Blood Sampling Fetal Monitoring Fetal Movement Counting Nonstress Testing (NST) Biophysical Profile (BPP) Doppler Flow Studies
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Pregnancy Tests & Procedures

Biophysical Profile
Biophysical Profile (BPP, Ultrasound Evaluation with a Nonstress Test) Procedure overview A biophysical profile is a test that’s sometimes given during your third trimester of pregnancy. It is typically done if the health of your baby is in question because of the results of another test, because of certain pregnancy symptoms, or if your pregnancy is high risk. The biophysical profile combines two tests to fully examine the health of your unborn baby. The first is a nonstress test, which measures the ba...
Cesarean Delivery
Cesarean Delivery (Cesarean Section, C-section, Cesarean Birth) Procedure overview What is a cesarean delivery? Click Image to Enlarge Cesarean delivery (also called a cesarean section or C-section) is the surgical delivery of a baby by an incision through the mother's abdomen and uterus. This procedure is performed when it is determined to be a safer method than a vaginal delivery for the mother, baby, or both. In a cesarean delivery, an incision is made in the skin and into the uterus at the lower par...
Fetal Ultrasound
Fetal Ultrasound Click Image to Enlarge Procedure overview What is a fetal ultrasound? Fetal ultrasound is a test used during pregnancy that creates an image of the fetus in the mother's uterus, or womb. During a fetal ultrasound, various parts of the baby, such as the heart, head, and spine, are identified and measured. The testing may be performed either through the mother's abdomen (transabdominal) or vaginal canal (transvaginal). Fetal ultrasound provides a noninvasive way to evaluate the health of ...
Nonstress Testing
Nonstress Testing What is a nonstress test? A nonstress test (NST) measures the fetal heart rate in response to the fetus's movements. Generally, the heart rate of a healthy fetus increases when the fetus moves. The NST is usually performed in the last trimester of pregnancy. How is a nonstress test performed? The actual procedure for a NST may vary, but, generally, the procedure is as follows: The test is often performed in a special prenatal testing area of the hospital, or in your doctor's office. Th...
Fetal Blood Sampling
Fetal Blood Sampling What is fetal blood sampling? Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to remove a small amount of blood from the fetus during pregnancy. In the past, fetal blood sampling was used only during labor through the mother's open cervix to test blood from the fetal scalp for oxygenation. Today, in many perinatal care centers, fetal blood sampling is performed by specially trained perinatologists as part of diagnosing, treating, and monitoring fetal problems at various times during pregnancy. ...
Doppler Flow Studies
Doppler Flow Studies What is a Doppler flow study? Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel. Waveforms of the blood flow are shown on the ultrasound screen. Doppler flow studies may be used to assess blood flow in the umbilical blood vein and arteries, fetal brain, and fetal heart. Doppler flow is sometimes called Doppler velocimetry. A Doppler flow study is often used when a fetus has intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), which mea...
Second Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests
Second Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests Second trimester prenatal screening may include several blood tests, called multiple markers. These markers provide information about a woman's risk of having a baby with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Screening is usually performed by taking a sample of the mother's blood between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (16th to 18th is ideal). The multiple markers include: Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP) --a blood test that measures the level of al...
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) What is an alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP)? Alpha-fetoprotein screening is a blood test that measures the level of alpha-fetoprotein in the mothers' blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally produced by the fetal liver and is present in the fluid surrounding the fetus (amniotic fluid), and crosses the placenta into the mother's blood. The AFP blood test is also called MSAFP (maternal serum AFP). Abnormal levels of AFP may signal the following: Open neural tube defects (...
Biophysical Profile (BPP)
Biophysical Profile (BPP) What is a biophysical profile (BPP)? A biophysical profile (BPP) is a test that combines a nonstress test with ultrasound. A nonstress test (NST) measures the fetal heart rate in response to the movements of the fetus. An ultrasound is a diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. Biophysical profile testing is usually performed in the last trimester of pregnancy. There are five parts to a biophysical profile: The nonstre...
Fetal Movement Counting
Fetal Movement Counting What is fetal movement counting? Fetal movement counting, often called kick counting, is a way a mother can help monitor the movements of her unborn baby by counting the number of kicks in a certain time period. By 20 weeks gestation, most women are able to feel their baby's movements. But, movements vary in frequency, strength, and patterns depending on the maturity of the fetus. Generally, most fetuses have circadian (biologically timed) activity rhythms and tend to be more act...
First Trimester Screening
First Trimester Screening What is first trimester screening? First trimester screening is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. This screening process can help to determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. There are three parts of first trimester screening: Click Image to Enlarge Ultrasound test for fetal nuchal translucency (NT) Nuchal translucency screening uses an ultrasound test to examine the area at the ba...
Amniocentesis Procedure
Amniocentesis Procedure (Amniotic Fluid Analysis) Procedure overview What is amniocentesis? Amniocentesis is a procedure used to obtain a small sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy. Amniotic fluid is a clear, pale yellow fluid made by the fetus. The fluid protects the fetus from injury and helps to regulate the temperature of the fetus. In addition to various enzymes, proteins, hormones, and other substances, the amniotic fluid contains cells shed by the fetus. These ce...
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) (CVS, Chorionic Villus Biopsy) Procedure overview What is chorionic villus sampling? Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a prenatal test that involves taking a sample of tissue from the placenta, a structure in the uterus that provides blood and nutrients from the mother to the fetus, to test for chromosomal abnormalities and certain other genetic problems. The chorionic villi are tiny projections of placental tissue that look like fingers and contain the same genetic mate...
Episiotomy
Episiotomy Procedure overview What is an episiotomy? Click Image to Enlarge An episiotomy is an incision through the vaginal wall and the perineum (the area between the thighs, extending from the vaginal opening to the anus) to enlarge the vaginal opening and facilitate childbirth. During a vaginal birth, the physician/midwife will assist the fetus' head and chin out of the vagina when it becomes visible. Once the head is out of the vagina, the physician/midwife usually rotates the fetus to the side and...
External and Internal Heart Rate Monitoring of the Fetus
External and Internal Heart Rate Monitoring of the Fetus (Fetal Monitoring, External and Internal) Procedure Overview What is external and internal fetal heart rate monitoring? Fetal heart rate monitoring is a procedure used to evaluate the well-being of the fetus by assessing the rate and rhythm of the fetal heartbeat. During late pregnancy and labor, your physician or midwife may recommend monitoring the fetal heart rate and other functions. The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats pe...