Pap Smear

Often on your first prenatal visit, you will have a Pap smear if it’s been a year or more since your last test. If you’ve had a normal Pap smear in the last few months, you won’t need another one.

A Pap smear is done to look for abnormal cells, called precancerous, dysplastic or cancerous cells, in the cervical area. The goal of a Pap smear is to discover problems early so they can be dealt with more easily. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, it usually identifies the presence of an infection, a precancerous condition or some other condition.

Prenatal Genetic Tests for Specific Problems

Prenatal genetic tests are being used to test for specific problems. Some of the conditions they test for are discussed here. Familial Mediterranean fever is a disease found in people of Armenian, Arabic, Turkish and Sephardic Jewish background. Prenatal testing helps identify carriers of the recessive gene so diagnosis can be made quickly in a newborn to avoid a potentially fatal medical problem. Canavan’s disease is most commonly found in people of Ashkenazi Jewish background. Canavan’s disease screening can be combined with Tay-Sachs screening to determine if a fetus is affected. Congenital deafness is a condition caused by the connexin-26 gene. If a couple has a family history of inherited deafness, this test may identify the problem before birth. When identified before birth, measures can be taken to manage the problem immediately.

Women who deliver vaginally may see a change in abnormal Pap smears. One study showed that 60% of a group of women who were diagnosed with high-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesions in the cervix before giving birth had normal Pap smears after their babies were born. Researchers believe dilatation of the cervix during labor may slough off the precancerous cells or the baby may scrape them off as it moves down the birth canal.

If your Pap smear reveals any signs of an infection, it is treated immediately. If the first test reveals a precancerous condition, called dysplasia, the next step is usually a colposcopy. In a colposcopy, a microscope is used to examine your cervix to look for abnormal areas. If any are found, a sample of the tissue is removed, a procedure called a biopsy. Usually your healthcare provider won’t perform a biopsy until after your pregnancy. An abnormal Pap smear during pregnancy is a special situation and must be handled carefully.

Home Uterine Monitoring

Some women are monitored during pregnancy with home uterine monitoring. This monitor records a pregnant woman’s contractions while she is at home, then transmits the information by telephone to her healthcare provider. It is used to identify women at risk of premature labor.

Kick Counts

As baby gets bigger, kicks get stronger. Toward the end of pregnancy, you may be asked to record how often you feel baby move. This test is done at home and is called a kick count. It provides reassurance about baby’s well-being; this information is similar to that learned by a nonstress test.

Your healthcare provider may use one of two common methods. The first is to count how many times the baby moves in an hour. The other is to note how long it takes for baby to move 10 times. Usually you can choose when you want to do the test. After eating a meal is a good time because baby is often more active then.

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