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Pregnancy and Newborns

Pregnancy Tests & Procedures

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Fast Facts
Doppler ultrasound is a special technique that may be used during pregnancy. It uses sound to study how blood is moving. For example, it can look at blood moving through the umbilical cord.
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Common Tests During Pregnancy
Common Tests During Pregnancy The following are some of the more common tests done during pregnancy: First trimester prenatal screening tests First trimester screening is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing. This screening process can help to determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. Screening tests may be used alone or with other tests. There are 3 parts of first trimester screening: Ultrasound test for fetal nuchal translucency (NT). Nuchal translucency scr...
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

First Trimester Screening
First Trimester Screening What is first trimester screening? First trimester screening combines fetal ultrasound and blood tests for the mother. It’s done during the first trimester of pregnancy, during weeks 1 to 12 or 13. It can help find out the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. This includes chromosome defects such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), or trisomy 18 or 13. First trimester screening may include: Ultrasound test for fetal nuchal translucency (NT). This test uses ultrasound to l...
Biophysical Profile
Biophysical Profile What is a biophysical profile? A biophysical profile is a test that is sometimes used during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is often done if there is a question about the baby’s health. This may be because of other test results or certain pregnancy symptoms, or because your pregnancy is high risk. The biophysical profile combines two tests to check your unborn baby’s overall health: a nonstress test and an ultrasound. Nonstress test. This test checks your baby’s heart rate and ...
Nonstress Testing
Nonstress Testing What is a nonstress test? A nonstress test is a type of test done during pregnancy. It measures the heart rate of the unborn baby (fetus) in response to its movements. In most cases, the heart rate of a healthy baby increases when the baby moves. The nonstress test is usually done in the last trimester of pregnancy. Why might I need a nonstress test? Your healthcare provider may advise a nonstress test in any of these cases: Your pregnancy is high risk because you have thyroid, kidney,...
Fetal Movement Counting
Fetal Movement Counting What is fetal movement counting? Fetal movement counting is a way to check the health of a woman’s unborn baby (fetus). It’s often called kick counting. It’s done by counting the number of kicks you feel from your baby in the womb in a certain time period. By 20 weeks gestation, most women are able to feel their baby's movements. Movements vary in strength and how often they occur. There are different patterns of movement. They depend on the age of the baby. Most babies tend to b...
Fetal Ultrasound
Fetal Ultrasound What is fetal ultrasound? Fetal ultrasound is a test used during pregnancy. It creates an image of the baby in the mother's womb (uterus). It’s a safe way to check the health of an unborn baby. During a fetal ultrasound, the baby’s heart, head, and spine are evaluated, along with other parts of the baby. The test may be done either on the mother’s abdomen (transabdominal) or in the vagina (transvaginal). There are several types of fetal ultrasound: Standard ultrasound. The test uses sou...
Fetal Heart Monitoring
Fetal Heart Monitoring What is fetal heart monitoring? Fetal heart rate monitoring measures the fetus’ heart rate and rhythm. This lets your healthcare provider see how your fetus is doing. Your healthcare provider may do fetal heart monitoring during late pregnancy and labor. The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. It can vary by 5 to 25 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate may change as the fetus responds to conditions in the uterus. An abnormal fetal heart rate may mea...
Fetal Blood Sampling
Fetal Blood Sampling What is fetal blood sampling? Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to take a small amount of blood from an unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. Fetal blood sampling is usually done by a perinatologist with special training. This is a doctor who specializes in the care of babies in high-risk pregnancies. Why might I need fetal blood sampling? Fetal blood sampling is a very complex procedure. It must be done by a doctor with special training. It’s done when other tests or procedures a...
Episiotomy
Episiotomy What is an episiotomy? An episiotomy is an incision through the area between your vaginal opening and the anus. This area is called the perineum. It’s done to make the vaginal opening larger for childbirth. Normally, once the fetus’ head is seen, the healthcare provider will ease the head and chin out of the vagina. Once the head is out, the shoulders and the rest of the body follow. Sometimes the vaginal opening does not stretch enough for the fetus’ head. In this case, episiotomy aids your ...
Doppler Flow Study
Doppler Flow Study What is a Doppler flow study? Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound. It uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel. The results are shown on a computer screen in lines called waveforms. It’s sometimes called Doppler velocimetry. A Doppler flow study may be used during pregnancy to check the health of the unborn baby (fetus). It checks blood flow in: The umbilical vein and arteries The baby’s brain The baby’s heart Other organs in the baby Why might I need a Do...
Cesarean Section
Cesarean Section What is a Cesarean section? Cesarean section or C-section is the surgical delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) made in the mother's abdomen and uterus. Health care providers use it when they believe it is safer for the mother, the baby, or both. The incision made in the skin may be: Up-and-down (vertical). This incision extends from the belly button to the pubic hairline. or Across from side-to-side ( horizontal ). This incision extends across the pubic hairline. It is used most ...
Amniocentesis
Amniocentesis What is an amniocentesis? Amniocentesis is a procedure used to take out a small sample of the amniotic fluid for testing. This is the fluid that surrounds the fetus in a pregnant woman. Amniotic fluid is a clear, pale yellow fluid that: Protects the fetus from injury Protects against infection Allows the baby to move and develop properly Helps control the temperature of the fetus Along with various enzymes, proteins, hormones, and other substances, the amniotic fluid contains cells shed by...
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) What is an alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP)? Alpha-fetoprotein screening is a blood test that checks the level of alpha-fetoprotein in the mothers' blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally made by the baby’s liver. It is found in the fluid surrounding the baby in the womb (amniotic fluid). AFP goes through the placenta into the mother's blood. The AFP blood test is called MSAFP (maternal serum AFP). The AFP can also be measured in the amniotic fluid, called AFAFP. Too m...
Biophysical Profile
Biophysical Profile What is a biophysical profile? A biophysical profile is a test that is sometimes used during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is often done if there is a question about the baby’s health. This may be because of other test results or certain pregnancy symptoms, or because your pregnancy is high risk. The biophysical profile combines two tests to check your unborn baby’s overall health: a non-stress test and an ultrasound. Non-stress test. This test checks your baby’s heart rate an...
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 done 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). This blood test measures the level of alpha-feto...
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 to test for chromosomal abnormalities and certain other genetic problems. The placenta is a structure in the uterus that provides blood and nutrients from the mother to the fetus, The chorionic villi are tiny projections of placental tissue that look like fingers and contain the sa...