Your Guide to Prenatal Tests
The what, when, and why of 30 pregnancy exams, screens, and scans
Throughout even the healthiest, low-risk pregnancy, an expectant mama is likely to undergo a full battery of tests, in part simply because it’s possible nowadays (and useful) to find out quite a bit more about the health of our babies than when our moms were pregnant with us. While some tests monitor your health, others check that of your baby. Many, if not most, are routine, while others are optional and more relevant to specific populations.
Before you read any further, you should know that there are two types of genetic tests: screening and diagnostic tests. A screening test assesses your particular risk of having a baby with a certain birth defect, e.g. a 1 in 400 chance or 1 in 2,300, while a diagnostic test gives you a near-definitive answer as to whether your baby has a particular birth defect. Depending on the results of your screening tests, your healthcare provider may recommend follow-up diagnostic testing.
Your healthcare provider can tell you which tests pertain to your specific pregnancy, given your past and current medical history, but we checked in with Michele Hakakha, M.D., an ob-gyn in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA and co-author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy to offer you a trimester-by-trimester guide to the tests a modern mama-to-be is likely to face, along with any risks associated with the tests, and what to do if there’s a problem.