Your Guide to Prenatal Tests
The what, when, and why of 30 pregnancy exams, screens, and scans
Complete Blood Count
Who: All women
When: At your first prenatal visit (generally six to ten weeks into your pregnancy)
How: A blood test
Why: Elevated levels of white blood cells could indicate an infection; too little hemoglobin in your red blood cells indicates anemia; and low platelet levels may signal a blood-clotting problem.
Results and follow-up: If you're slightly anemic, your doctor will likely instruct you to eat more iron-rich foods—lean meats, green leafy veggies, beans, and lentils. If you need more iron than you can squeeze into your diet, your doctor may recommend a daily iron supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin. Certain types of anemia can be a red flag for inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell disease that could potentially be passed onto baby; your doctor may order more tests. And if your white blood cell count comes in high, or your platelet count low, you may also need further testing to determine the best course of action, if any.