Your Pregnancy After 35 : Tests for You and Your Baby (part 2) - Third-Trimester Tests

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Quantitative HCG Test

A special type of pregnancy test, called a quantitative HCG test, is a blood test done in the first trimester. Your healthcare provider may order it if there is concern about miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The test measures the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which your body produces early in pregnancy in rapidly increasing amounts. Two or more tests done a few days apart identify the change in the amount of the hormone. You may also have an ultrasound.

Routine Tests

At every prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will weigh you and check your blood pressure. Simple as they are, these two tests provide a great deal of information. Not gaining enough weight, or gaining too much, can indicate problems.

High blood pressure can be significant during pregnancy, especially as you near your due date. By taking your blood pressure throughout pregnancy, your healthcare provider establishes what is normal for you. Changes in blood pressure readings alert him or her to potential problems.

As your baby grows, your healthcare provider measures you to check to see how much your uterus has grown since your last visit. He or she also listens to the fetal heartbeat.

Third-Trimester Tests

If you’re like most women, your pregnancy progresses normally and you’re in good health in your third trimester. At each prenatal visit, growth of the uterus is measured. Your healthcare provider also checks your weight and blood pressure and may perform a urinalysis. Checking your blood pressure and urine are important during the last trimester to help detect pre-eclampsia, a condition more common in first-time pregnancies and in older pregnant women.

In this last trimester, you may have an internal examination to see whether your cervix has begun to thin and dilate, to evaluate the size of your pelvis and to see if your baby is in the head-down position. You will usually have this examination in the last few weeks of pregnancy. However, it can’t predict when you will go into labor.

Other tests may be ordered if your baby is postterm (overdue), your pregnancy is considered high risk or your physician believes your baby might have a problem. Possible tests include a nonstress test (NST), contraction stress test (CST), ultrasound and a biophysical profile (BPP). These tests help determine the well-being of mother and baby, or the kind of problem you or your baby may be experiencing.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

Cleaning up the kitchen can be tiring, especially during pregnancy. To avoid unnecessary boil overs when cooking, try this neat trick. Place a toothpick between the pan and the lid to let steam escape so nothing boils over. Or place a wooden spoon across the top of an open pan. No messes to clean up!

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