Routine Procedures and Tests for Your First Trimester of Pregnancy

A urine test may be used to confirm that you are pregnant. Throughout pregnancy, your urine will be checked to measure the levels of protein, sugar, and other substances.

Your blood pressure will be taken at every prenatal visit. It is normal for your blood pressure to rise and fall throughout pregnancy.

Lab and blood tests are conducted periodically throughout your pregnancy. They can confirm your pregnancy, determine blood type and Rh factor*, assess whether or not you are anemic, and detect cervical cancer (Pap test). Tests are also used to diagnose certain infections like rubella (German measles), toxoplasmosis, hepatitis B, and group B strep, which may be harmful to the fetus.

Your weight, which is taken at each prenatal visit, is one of the most important signs of your baby's growth and of your general health. Good maternal nutrition is extremely important to the health and well being of your fetus. Hopefully, you were at an ideal weight for your height when you got pregnant. If not, be sure to talk to your health care provider about weight gain during pregnancy.

The fetal heart rate is generally checked at every prenatal visit after around the 10th week, depending upon the equipment your health care provider uses. A Doptone is a hand-held device that uses ultrasound to pick up the baby's heartbeat, which is then magnified through an amplifier. A fetoscope is a specially designed stethoscope that enables both the mother and the health care provider to hear the heartbeat; it can be used at around 16 to 20 weeks. The normal fetal heart rate is 120 to 160 beats per minute.

* If your blood test shows that you are Rh negative, meaning you lack the Rh factor on your red blood cells, your health care provider will recommend an injection of Rhogam, a medication that will protect your baby from a potentially dangerous blood problem.

Continue on to "Prenatal Tests:
Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider"

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010