women

What to do if the Test is Positive

The confirmation that you are about to become a mother heralds a new stage in your life, and now is the perfect time to start planning and preparing for the changes ahead. You may be experiencing mixed feelings about the news, and that’s entirely normal. Beginning the preparations can help you to come to terms with your new status.

  • Take a second test—although modern pregnancy tests are very accurate, they can sometimes be wrong

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor—he or she can confirm the pregnancy and answer your questions

  • Let your doctor know if your immunizations are not up to date

  • Avoid taking new medications, and consult your doctor if you need to take any regular medication

  • Calculate your estimated delivery date

  • If you aren’t already taking folic acid, start now, since this is essential for your new baby’s development

  • Cut out alcohol and cigarettes, which have been linked to health problems in babies

  • Develop a healthy eating plan , with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, good-quality carbs, and foods rich in iron and folic acid

  • Exercise moderately—staying in shape helps to ensure an easier pregnancy and birth

  • If you usually drink coffee, cut back or try decaffeinated coffee or tea instead; a little caffeine won’t hurt your baby, but caffeine has been linked to miscarriage in some women

  • Listen to your body—if you are tired, take a nap; if you are hungry, have a snack; the very best way to overcome and cope with the symptoms of pregnancy is to listen and respond to your body’s signals

  • Share the news—some women like to wait until they’ve had an ultrasound or passed the 12-week mark, but there’s no reason why you can’t tell a few people your good news now

  • Make sure you have a good support network of friends, family, and your partner, as well as your doctor and/or midwife, who can answer the multitude of questions that are likely to crop up during the coming months

  • Join an online community of pregnant women and new moms who can share advice and stories

  • Start a pregnancy diary, writing down how you are feeling, what symptoms you are experiencing, and any hopes or plans you have for the months to come; ask your partner or a friend to take a photo of you every month to keep track of your changing body

  • Invest in a few pregnancy books to keep tabs on what’s happening to your baby—and you!

  • Look around for good prenatal classes—although you are unlikely to begin these for several months, they may get booked up well in advance

  • Enjoy your pregnancy

Your estimated due date

This date is calculated by adding seven days to the first day of your last menstrual period, and then subtracting three months. So, if your last period was on February 1, your baby will arrive somewhere around November 8. Some experts believe that caucasian first-time moms should add an extra 15 days to this date; however, your first scan will pinpoint an accurate date.

Appointments and Tests

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you will be monitored to ensure that you and your baby are healthy. These are exciting times, full of anticipation—and huge changes. Prenatal appointments provide you with a chance to ask questions and get the reassurance you need.

Routine prenatal appointments

For a first baby, you will have an appointment with your doctor or midwife at:

  • 8 weeks—initial appointment

  • 12 weeks

  • 16 weeks

  • 20 weeks

  • 24 weeks

  • 28 weeks

  • 30 weeks

  • 32 weeks

  • 34 weeks

  • 36 weeks

  • 37 weeks

  • 38 weeks

  • 39 weeks

  • 40 weeks

  • 41 weeks—assuming you haven’t had your baby by then

Blood tests

Over the course of your pregnancy, samples of your blood will be tested for:

  • Your blood type

  • Anemia

  • Your rhesus status—whether you have a positive or negative blood group

  • HIV

  • Hepatitis B

  • Syphilis

  • Rubella immunity

  • Your glucose level

  • Red blood cell abnormalities, such as sickle cell disease

Ultrasounds

Most women have two ultrasounds, but you may be offered more if you have a high-risk pregnancy; you may have an ultrasound later in your pregnancy to check the size and position of your baby or placenta. Normal scans occur at:

  • 7–9 weeks—this is routine for some practitioners; others use it only if there is a risk of miscarriage, uncertainty about dates, multiple babies, or to check for ectopic or molar pregnancy

  • 10–14 weeks—Nuchal Translucency (NT) screening to check for chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome, and congenital heart problems; this is done during an ultrasound but may not be offered everywhere. You may be given other tests to check for these abnormalities

  • 18–20 weeks—to confirm dates, check the baby’s heartbeat, confirm the baby’s location, measure the baby, detect twins, check location of the placenta, assess the amount of amniotic fluid, check for abnormalities, and determine the baby’s sex

Screening tests

  • 11–14 weeks—first trimester combined screening, which involves an NT screening and blood tests to check for chemicals which could indicate Down’s syndrome or trisomy 18, among others

Diagnostic tests

If screening tests suggest your baby has a high risk of Down’s syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities, you may be offered:

  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), in which tiny samples of the chorionic villi (finger-like projections on the placenta) are taken to check the genetic information they carry:

    • Transvaginal CVS is done at 10–12 weeks, when a small tube or a pair of forceps is inserted through your cervix

    • Transabdominal CVS is usually done at 10–12 weeks, when a needle is inserted through your abdomen into your placenta

  • Amniocentesis, in which a needle is inserted into your womb and amniotic fluid is removed for testing; this is done after 15 weeks

  • Urine tests will be done at every appointment to check for the presence of protein (which could indicate pre-eclampsia), urinary tract infections, and sugar (which could indicate gestational diabetes)

  • Blood pressure is checked at every appointment to ensure that it doesn’t rise significantly, a sign of pre-eclampsia

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