Antenatal Care - Assuring a Hassle-Free Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a fascinating process, beginning with conception and ending with childbirth. A woman's body goes through several changes that are helpful for her and the development of the foetus. Some changes can lead to complications without proper care or monitoring during the antenatal period. Timely corrective actions during every stage help to prevent the risks and complications of pregnancy, ensuring the safe delivery of a healthy child. Purpose of Professional Care During The Antenatal Period The antenatal period comprises three trimesters. The care during the antenatal period in pregnancy encompasses all trimesters, from the time of conception to childbirth. Antenatal care aims to detect and treat pre-existing health issues or those likely to develop during pregnancy. A good ANC (antenatal care) is a crucial bond between the expecting mother and the healthcare system. Standard antenatal care involves periodic visits to the obstetrician. They will recommend routine screening and diagnostic tests to monitor the mother's health and the development of the foetus. It helps in the timely detection of health concerns. The obstetrician will offer valuable guidance and care tips by examining various health parameters during the antenatal period. What to Expect During Periodic Antenatal Care Visits The selection of an expert obstetrician should be your priority as soon as you decide to have a baby. Ensure that the maternity home has all the necessary amenities and is not too far from your residence. It will reduce the stress of travelling long distances during antenatal appointments and the final stage of labour pains. The obstetrician will conduct various tests and scans depending on the stage of the pregnancy. The following are a few objectives for frequent visits during the antenatal period. Understanding the history of past pregnancies, if any Knowing about pre-existing conditions like diabetes or hypertension Understanding themedications you are on. Tips for a healthy diet and exercise to ensure the well-being of the mother and the growing foetus Regular checking of weight, blood pressure, and other health parameters Blood tests and ultrasound scans determine the health of the baby Treating stress, anxiety, or depression, if you are experiencing any of these issues You will visit the obstetrician for routine antenatal care a minimum of seven to eight times during the entire period of pregnancy. Use these visits to discuss any symptoms that may bother you, such as morning sickness, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite with the obstetrician. Antenatal Care During Each Trimester Every mother must receive proper antenatal, intranatal, and postnatal care for her wellbeing and consistent growth of the baby right from the time of conception. The type of care during each trimester of the antenatal period differs as your baby goes through different growth stages. Your doctor needs to keep track of the baby's growth and your health for a smooth pregnancy and safe delivery. Every antenatal visit helps your obstetrician address several health concerns to prevent likely complications. Read further to know how antenatal appointments during each trimester can benefit you and your baby. The First Trimester The first three months of your pregnancy is crucial for your baby's development. Your obstetrician will probably recommend supplements to improve your body's iron, vitamin, and folic acid levels. You may need to take these supplements even before and after conceiving. Good nutrition through a well-balanced diet and supplements is crucial for the healthy growth of the fetus and your health. Monitoring your weight is a standard practice in antenatal visits during the initial trimesters. An ultrasound scan will help your doctor check the development of the foetus. It will also enable them to share the likely delivery date with you. The ultrasound scanning is necessary throughout antenatal care to track the growth and other health parameters of the foetus, including heartbeats and blood pressure. The antenatal tests to be done at this stage are very crucial to determine various parameters like blood group, Rh antibodies, haemoglobin, screening for infections, thyroid markers, diabetes screening, and thalassemia screening. The non-invasive pregnancy tests and Karyotypic screening are also done as prescribed by the doctor. Discuss ongoing medications with your doctor. Stop or avoid certain medications during the first trimesters, as these may harm the foetus during the early growth stages. Visit us for the Antenatal Profile - I Test The Second Trimester You will visit your obstetrician once in four weeks through the second trimester. The obstetrician uses ultrasound to assess the baby's structural development of the genitourinary, skeletal, and digestive systems. They can detect anomalies in various organ systems, like kidneys and the heart during this antenatal period. Blood and urine tests during this period canevaluateblood cell count, infections, blood sugar levels, and proteins. The obstetrician will also get measurements of the uterus, including the size and shape. They may suggest calcium and iron supplements in the initial phase of the second trimester if necessary. The AFP test, triple and quadruple marker tests are indicated in this stage as recommended by the treating doctor. The NIPT and Karyotyping tests are also done as recommended. Kindly mention about Antenatal Profile -II , NIPT tests and AFP tests. The Third Trimester The third trimester is the third and last phase of the antenatal period. The fortnightly prenatal visits during the third trimester are vital as the baby moves downwards by assuming a head-down position. The obstetrician will recommend routine checks like ultrasound, blood test, urine test, weight, and blood pressure. The ultrasound scan will help you know your baby's measurements, heart rate, and other details. Visits during the antenatal period of the third-trimester help doctors identify growth abnormalities or placental issues. These are vital factors for safe delivery and proper growth of the foetus. You must not miss following the appointment schedule despite your sound health. Conclusion Antenatal care refers to the periodic appointments with the obstetrician during the antenatal period in pregnancy. Visiting your obstetrician regularly during the antenatal period is significant for the healthy growth of your baby as well as your good health. Do not miss your appointments with the obstetrician, as there is no alternative to expert antenatal care. Besides these visits, you must contact the doctor immediately if you notice any change in the foetal movements. Carry a notebook listing your queries during every visit and get answers from the doctor. Your partner should accompany you during the antenatal visits for better involvement for the entire duration of your pregnancy. Contact us for a reliable Antenatal Profile - I Test
10 Reasons for not getting pregnant
Unable to get pregnant? This might be the reason! The joys of parenthood are boundless, and many of us crave that experience. While some are lucky to conceive immediately after they start trying, it may take longer for others. It is sad and hard to accept infertility when you have been longing for a baby. Although this is a very sensitive topic, we discuss here a few reasons why you are not becoming pregnant, with suggestions and recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles. Dr. Richard Marr, America's Leading Infertility Expert, has authored a book titled ‘Fertility Book’, which says that 40% of infertility problems are female-related and 40% are male-related, while the remaining 20% are either failure in coupling or unknown. We present the ten most common reasons why couples are unable to conceive. 1. Irregular shape of the uterus An irregular-shaped uterus that gives no space for the fertilized egg can be a barrier to conceiving. Sometimes abnormalities may be due to scar tissue from previous surgeries. 2. Presence of fibroids Fibroids are one of the primary reasons for not conceiving. The presence of fibroid or any growths in the uterus may also affect the available space for the fertilized egg. 3. Ovulation disorders Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affect normal ovulation. Irregular ovulation is also a problem. Being overweight can add to ovulation problems and reduce your chances of conceiving. Stress, very low body weight, and excessive exercise also impact ovulation. PCOS can further be diagnosed with the aid of certain profile tests designed specifically for PCOS. This includes an array of tests to detect the levels of FSH, LH, Prolactin and other hormonal levels. 4. Fallopian tube obstruction Obstruction in the fallopian tube creates a hurdle for the sperm to reach the egg. Pelvic infection, endometriosis, or some sexually transmitted diseases may cause such obstructions. 5. Male health Low sperm count and abnormal sperm movement or shape may result in male infertility. Medical conditions such as diabetes, heavy drinking, and smoking may cause this infertility. Several studies have shown that diabetes and obesity in men affect their sexual function in many ways. Certain hormonal tests measuring the testosterone and other hormonal levels are now available to diagnose Infertility in males. 6. Stress Emotional stress plays a significant role while you try to get pregnant. Studies have shown that day-to-day stress in life also lowers the fertility of a woman. Stress impacts men more than women when it comes to conceiving. The very stress of trying to have a baby may increase anxiety levels so much that it may affect erection. Additionally, pressure from family members, relatives, and friends indirectly results in frustration. Nevertheless, the advertisements on television like those portraying the happiness of other women while playing with their kids make it even more frustrating while you are trying, yet are not able, to conceive. Stress very often may also be associated with certain lifestyle disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Hence, it is also recommended to keep a regular check on the blood glucose and lipid profile levels as these may also reduce the chances of conceiving. 7. Age As the biological clock ticks on, your fertility window changes. As women age, the quantity and quality of eggs decrease. Therefore, the chances of conceiving in the mid to late 30s and beyond are much less than in the early ages between 21 to 30. The rate at which a woman’s body loses eggs becomes much faster around the age of 37. Therefore, it becomes hard to conceive beyond 37. In the case of men, fertility begins to decline after 40. 8. Hormones The female sex hormones play a significant role in conception. A study shows that elevated secretion of cortisol and prolactin affects the menstrual cycle and the secretion of estradiol, which in turn reduces the chances of conception. Various hormonal tests are also available for better diagnosis. 9. Time of intercourse Ovulating, but not getting pregnant? Although the number of fertile days is of great importance in conception, it is difficult to exactly pin down the fertile days. The probability of conception after ovulation is less than that during the six days before ovulation. Hence, some couples are advised that the timing of their intercourse should be according to the ovulation to increase the chances of getting pregnant. You may do this by using a kit to detect the surge of specific hormones that indicate fertility. 10. Unhealthy lifestyle Your lifestyle choices may contribute to your difficulty in conceiving: Alcohol and recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana may temporarily affect the reproductive system. Your diet may also affect your fertility. A study shows that replacing carbohydrates with animal protein increased the chances of ovulatory fertility. Moreover,plant proteins have been shown to lower ovulation infertility risks. Being overweight or obese may be bad for fertility. While it has a close association with PCOS in women, in men it may result in erectile dysfunction. Underweight men may also have a lower sperm count. It is advisable to maintain a normal body weight. Even in women, having a very low body weight affects ovulation. Certain prescription drugs may also affect fertility. Antiandrogens, antibiotics, and steroids may affect the sperm count in males, while antihypertensive medications may affect erection. Lack of sleep or other sleep issues reduces your chances of conceiving. Environmental pollution and exposure to chemicals and radiation may affect fertility. Take away All the above factors affect your fertility in some way and ultimately, affect conception. Attempting pregnancy at the proper age and during the fertile periods may increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Daily exercise, healthy eating, and a relaxed mind help reduce both physical and psychological stress. Keep in mind that excessive, strenuous exercise will again have negative effects on ovulation. So, do moderate exercise and try to maintain a healthy weight. Hormonal problems may be solved with proper consultation with your gynaecologist. They can help you with novel medicines and techniques to improve fertility and increase your chances of pregnancy. Do not hesitate to consult your fertility specialist. Your doctor may advise you to get your progesterone levels checked if you are not able to conceive for a long time. A wide range of tests to detect the hormonal levels in males and females are available. These are included under the Infertility profile- male, Infertility profile- female as well as testing for individual hormones.
Early Symptoms of Pregnancy And When To Get Tested
Significant hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy trigger a variety of symptoms. These symptoms of an early pregnancy may vary dramatically from woman to woman. Some women may experience many of the symptoms of pregnancy, while others may notice only a few or no symptoms at all. Some women feel certain they're pregnant within the first few days of pregnancy, or others don’t notice anything until they miss a period.The earliest symptoms of pregnancy are more than the hallmark symptom of a missed period. They may also include morning sickness, fatigue, spotting, breast changes, and frequent urination. Early symptoms of pregnancy can sometimes be confusing because these symptoms can be caused by other factors and do not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. It’s really important not to compare your pregnancy to someone else’s because pregnancy is a unique experience for each woman. Your doctor will usually order an hCG blood test to confirm pregnancy. Book a test here with Metropolis and get results online. Common early symptoms of pregnancy The most common early symptoms of pregnancy might include: Missed period: Missing a period is often the first clear-cut sign of possible pregnancy. Once implantation has happened, your body produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone that helps the body maintain the pregnancy and stops ovulation and the shedding of the uterus lining. However, missing your period can be misleading if you typically have an irregular period. Irregular periods might also be caused by factors such as stress, excessive exercise, dieting or hormone imbalances. Enlarged, tender and swollen breasts: Early in pregnancy the breasts become fuller, swollen and tender due to hormonal changes. The discomfort will lessen after a few weeks when your body gets adjusted to the hormones. Hormones continue to make your breasts grow. The area around the nipple (areola) becomes darker and grows larger. Morning sickness: Though it is called morning sickness, it can occur at any time of the day or night. It often develops as early as 2 weeks into a pregnancy, or it can start a few months after conception and may settle as you enter the second trimester. The symptoms include loss of appetite and nausea with or without vomiting. However, it is possible that a few women may not experience nausea. Fatigue: Fatigue is another most common early symptom of pregnancy. Many women feel overwhelming tiredness in early pregnancy. This is most likely caused by a rapid rise in the hormones during early pregnancy, especially sex hormone called progesterone. It helps maintain the pregnancy and makes the baby grow, but it also slows your metabolism. Try to get enough sleep or rest when you can during early days of your pregnancy. Your energy levels will probably rise again as you enter the second trimester. Another possible cause of tiredness during pregnancy could be anemia, which is most commonly caused by iron deficiency. So eating iron-rich foods and iron supplements is important to prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Frequent urination: During pregnancy, you may notice yourself urinating more often than usual. This actually happens because the body’s blood supply increases during pregnancy, causing your kidneys to process more fluid than usual, which leads to more fluid in your bladder. Food cravings and food aversions: When you're pregnant, cravings for certain foods are very common. You might become sensitive to certain odors and may also notice a sudden distaste for foods you previously enjoyed. Spotting: Spotting is also known as implantation bleeding which may be mistaken for a light period. Implantation bleeding occurs when an embryo gets implanted in the endometrium lining of the uterus at blastocyst stage. It is a less common symptom and doesn’t occur for everyone. If it does occur, it usually happens around the time of your regular period or around week 4 of your pregnancy and lasts for a few days to a few weeks. Other less common symptoms of early pregnancy can include metallic taste in your mouth, headaches and dizziness, cramping, mood swings, bloating, constipation, nasal congestion, heartburn, faster heartbeat and high blood pressure. The above symptoms can only give you an idea that you’re pregnant, but they are not a sure sign. Only a test will give a definite result. When should you take a pregnancy test? If you suspect you might be pregnant, the best time to get tested for a home pregnancy urine test is 1 week after you have missed your period. If you take a test earlier than this, you may run the risk of getting a false negative result. This means the test may come up negative, even if you are actually pregnant. A pregnancy test measures a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that is present in the blood and urine of pregnant women. This hormone starts building in your body rapidly in the beginning of your pregnancy, as early as 10 days after conception. Though hCG appears early in the process, you still need to wait (about 3 to 4 weeks from the first day of your last period) for enough hCG to build up in your body for a positive pregnancy test. Early test results may not be the most precise. Unlike at-home urine tests, blood tests can often detect hCG earlier in a pregnancy but it must be done in a clinical setting. Blood tests can sometimes give a positive pregnancy test result as early as 6 to 8 days after ovulation. At-home pregnancy tests are widely available without a prescription in drug stores. It is advised that if you get a negative result on a home pregnancy test, take another test a week later to recheck or contact your doctor if you want a blood test. If you receive a positive result, you can then get started on a prenatal program to safeguard the health of both you and your growing baby. Important Links: To book Triple marker test, click here To book Maternal Serum Screening test, click here
COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant Women: All you need to Know
COVID-19 infection during pregnancy is a cause of great concern for the health of pregnant women and the unborn baby. While pregnancy does not increase the risk of catching COVID-19, studies have found that pregnant women are susceptible to have more severe illness with COVID-19 in contrast to non-pregnant women. These women are more likely to be admitted to the hospital, develop pregnancy complications or deliver prematurely. Therefore, experts believe that pregnant women should get vaccinated as the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination overshadow its side effects. Being vaccinated and continuing masking remain the only appropriate method to prevent this infection in pregnant women. This need of vaccination has become more urgent with the wake of the Delta variant of coronavirus. Few recent researches have highlighted the worse effects of illness on pregnant women infected with Delta variant of COVID-19. Getting symptoms suggestive of COVID-19? Do not delay testing any further. Book a home sample collection with us.Recently, the Government of India has approved vaccination of pregnant women against COVID-19 based on the recommendations from National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). They have issued operational guidelines that ensure education to pregnant women to make an informed decision whether they should get vaccinated or not. This includes awareness about the risks of exposure to COVID-19 infection along with the risks and benefits associated with the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country. The eligible pregnant woman will be able to get any of the three vaccines currently authorised in India; Covishield (the local version of the AstraZeneca vaccine), Sputnik V (imported from Russia), or Covaxin (India’s homegrown vaccine). A pregnant woman, who chooses to take vaccination, could be vaccinated at any time of the pregnancy. Here we are answering some of the important questions around getting COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy Should pregnant women take COVID-19 vaccine? Although pregnancy does not increase the risk to COVID-19 infection, pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Most pregnant women are reported to have asymptomatic or have mild disease, however, their health can deteriorate rapidly which will affect the health of the baby. Additionally, a pregnant woman significantly comes in contact with healthcare services throughout three trimesters and frequently visits high-risk places like laboratories and hospitals. These risk factors necessitate the need of protection against COVID-19 infection. According to WHO, there is insufficient evidence to believe that there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are at high risk may be vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider. What group of pregnant women are at increased risk of getting infected with COVID-19? Pregnant women at increased risk of getting infected with COVID-19 can be one who; Is a healthcare worker or a frontline worker. Living in a community with an increased rate of COVID-19 infections. Commonly come in contact with people outside the household. Difficulty in following social distancing protocols, like living in a crowded household. What group of pregnant women are at higher risk of developing complications after COVID 19 infection? Various risk factors responsible for developing complications after COVID 19 infection during pregnancy are: Pre-existing comorbidities such as diabetes, organ transplant recipients, chronic respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, immunosuppression therapies, dialysis or advanced chronic kidney disease, congenital or acquired heart disease, etc. Advanced maternal age Obesity. When should women be vaccinated during pregnancy? Expectant mothers can be vaccinated at any time during their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman is opting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy or after the delivery of the baby, the CDC advises to schedule it at least 14 days before or 14 days after any other vaccination. It will be useful to consult an obstetrician about the best timing for routine vaccines and COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. When should a pregnant woman be vaccinated, if she was already infected with COVID-19? If a woman got infected with COVID-19 infection during the course of current pregnancy, then she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery. A healthy pregnancy has different needs across different three trimesters, health tests being one of the quintessential requirements. Explore Metropolis and book your pregnancy tests with a trusted partner.Book Pregnancy tests for the first trimester here.Click for Pregnancy tests for the second trimester.Tap to book Pregnancy tests for the third trimester. Is COVID-19 vaccination safe and effective in pregnant women? There is limited data available about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. However, initial reports suggest that there are no safety concerns for either the pregnant women or their babies. More studies are needed to assess the risk of clotting in pregnant women, a side effect associated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines for the pregnant woman or her baby? Like any other person, COVID-19 vaccine can cause a pregnant woman to get very mild side effects including mild fever, pain at injection site, or feeling unwell for 1-3 days. Guideline recommends that very rarely (one in 1-5 lakh persons) may experience adverse reactions within 20 days after COVID-19 vaccination. These below mentioned symptoms may need immediate medical attention. Shortness of breath Chest pain Pain in limbs / pain on pressing the limbs or swelling in the limbs Small pinpoint haemorrhages or bruising of the skin beyond the vaccination site Persistent abdominal pain with or without vomiting Seizures in the absence of previous history of seizures with or without vomiting Severe and persistent headaches with or without vomiting Weakness/paralysis of limbs or any particular side of the body Persistent vomiting without any obvious reason Blurred vision/ pain in eyes. What are the contraindications for vaccination in pregnancy? Pregnant women should not take vaccination in the following conditions: Anaphylactic or allergic reaction to the previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine Anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food-items etc. It is temporarily not advisable in the following conditions: Women should defer COVID-19 vaccination for 12 weeks from infection or 4 to 8 weeks from recovery COVID-19 infection Women who were treated with anti-COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or have active COVID-19 infection. Can a pregnant woman get COVID-19 infection from the coronavirus vaccine? No, a pregnant woman cannot get COVID-19 infection from the currently available vaccines. She may experience mild, temporary side effects, which is indicative of the immune response to the vaccination, not COVID-19. What are the precautions needed for the pregnant woman after COVID-19 vaccination? Pregnant woman along with her family members should be counselled to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour including wearing mask, frequent handwashing, maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowded areas. Bottom line All pregnant women can register themselves on Co-WIN portal or may get themselves registered on-site at the COVID-19 vaccination centre. This process of registration for pregnant women is similar to the general population. Educating and counselling these women regarding the potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination is highly crucial for them to make an informed decision about themselves and their baby’s health. We wish you a happy and safe motherhood!
Important lab tests during pregnancy
Lab tests are part of routine health care during pregnancy. Few of these tests are performed with a blood sample while others use a urine sample or a sample of tissue taken from your vagina, cervix, or rectum. These tests called prenatal tests are designed with the primary goal to help your health care provider find out how you and your baby are doing during pregnancy. The different kinds of tests available for pregnant women include: Tests to confirm pregnancy Routine screening tests, which can assess mother’s health along with baby’s health status Maternal health screening used to identify specific disease and infection increasing the risk of complications for you and your baby Diagnostic tests done for high-risk pregnancies. The different phases of pregnancy will need different types of tests to track mother’s and baby’s health. Various lab tests required for various phases of pregnancy are discussed below. Screening in First Trimester of Pregnancy Although the following tests are conducted in early pregnancy, your doctor can request you these lab tests at any time of the pregnancy. Complete blood count Complete blood picture can determine the counts of different types of cells including red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets The number of RBCs can detect whether you have a certain type of anemia and determine the status of iron, vitamin B12, and folate deficiency The number of WBCs can determine how many disease-fighting cells you have in your blood, indicative of an infection in the body The number of platelets can show whether you have a problem with blood clotting. Blood group and Rhesus compatibility screening The results of blood group ABO and Rh typing will figure out if the woman is type A, B, AB, or O and if they are Rh negative or positive Identifying the ABO blood group is highly important in pregnant women so as to ascertain your blood group for emergencies like heavy bleeding at the time of birth Besides, knowledge of the Rhesus (Rh) factor of the mother is crucial so as to determine Rh compatibility with the growing baby. The Rh factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). If your RBCs have the protein, you are Rh positive. If you RBCs lacks the protein, you are Rh negative. Rh incompatibility occurs if a woman is Rh-negative and her fetus is Rh positive, the woman’s body can make antibodies against the Rh factor These antibodies can damage the fetus’s RBCs This usually does not cause problems in a first pregnancy, when the body makes only a small number of antibodies However, it can cause issues in a subsequent pregnancy In cases of Rh incompatibility, most women will be given a shot of Rh-immune globulin at 28 weeks and again a few days after delivery. Rubella antibody status All pregnant women should be monitored for rubella antibodies If rubella virus infects a developing fetus in thefirst 16 weeks of pregnancy, affected babies will have severe birth defects including deafness, eye defects, heart defects, mental retardation The risk of complications decreases if the infection occurs after 20 weeks gestation The goal of the test is to recognize women who have not been immunized or have reduced immunity and have higher chances of contracting rubella However, non-immune mothers should not be vaccinated during their pregnancy and should receive the vaccination after giving birth in order to protect future pregnancies. Screening for sexually transmitted infections Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause complications for you and your baby All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis and chlamydia early in pregnancy. The screening is important, as a baby born to mothers infected with syphilis can be stillborn You can also be evaluated for gonorrhea, if you are 25 or younger. Infants born to mothers infected with hepatitis B will become carriers and have a higher likelihood of developing chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, etc. Prevention of transmission of hepatitis B virus from mother to infant is achieved by administration of hepatitis B vaccine and immunoglobulin to the infant at birth. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening is crucial and all pregnant women should be screened for HIV Women who are HIV positive will be given treatment in order to decrease the risk of HIV being transmitted to their infant Measures to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection include antiretroviral therapy, elective cesarean section delivery, and the avoidance of breastfeeding. Additionally, if a pregnant woman is believed to be at risk for HIV, hepatitis C screening should also be considered. Maternal serum screening/ Dual marker test Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A screening (PAPP-A) is done in early pregnancy, and its abnormal levels are linked to a higher risk for chromosomal defects Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone made by the placenta in early pregnancy. Its abnormal levels are associated with chromosomal issues Both these tests in combination have a greater potential to diagnose genetic birth defects such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and trisomy 18 in the developing baby. Book your first trimester maternal serum screening dual marker test here. Apart from these screenings in the first trimester, testing for varicella antibody status in pregnant women even with no history of illness or vaccination should be considered. Vitamin D screening of mothers is also important, as vitamin D is required for normal bone growth development in the fetus. Screening in Second Trimester of Pregnancy Screening at 26–28 weeks’ gestation mainly includes another round of complete blood count, blood group of antibodies, and glucose tolerance test. Glucose tolerance test A glucose screening test is used to determine gestational diabetes, a temporary condition that develops during pregnancy Although this disease usually disappears after the baby is born, women who develop gestational diabetes have a higher possibility of developing type 2 diabetes later in life Gestational diabetes can increase your chances of needing a cesarean delivery as babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are usually born larger. Test for Urine infection All pregnant women should have a midstream urine culture at first and again at the second trimester and then at 36 weeks gestation, to exclude a sub-clinical urine infection. Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP) This blood test, also known as MSAFP (maternal serum AFP) measures the level of alpha-fetoprotein in your blood during pregnancy. Abnormal levels of AFP may indicate: Open neural tube defects like spina bifida Down syndrome Complications in the abdominal wall of the fetus Twins An incorrect due date. Most of the times, the doctor can advise a triple marker test because it looks at the levels of AFP, and two pregnancy hormones, estriol and hCG to determine the presence of any chromosomal abnormalities in the baby. Screening in Third Trimester of Pregnancy Group B streptococcus test Group B streptococcus (GBS) is most commonly found in the vagina and rectum of women and can pass from a pregnant woman to her baby during labor Although this occurs rarely to 1 or 2 babies out of 100, GBS can lead to severe neonatal infection or sepsis Hence, taking a vaginorectal culture at 35 to 37 weeks gestation can rule out GBS infection. Prenatal screening tests act as a vital source of information for pregnant women. These tests are periodically done to evaluate women’s and baby’s health, and the presence of any pathological condition. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns if you are not sure if you should be screened or if you are feeling anxious. Have a happy pregnancy!
Why Folic Acid is important for pregnant women?
Folic acid is a B Vitamin and is an especially important vitamin for pregnant women. It is absolutely important that women who are planning for a pregnancy consume recommended amount of Folic Acid before and during early pregnancy. Folic Acid is extremely critical in the development of a baby’s brain and spine. The baby’s brain and spine is formed at a very early stage in the pregnancy, when the woman does not even realise she is pregnant yet. Consuming recommended amounts of folic acid everyday can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (known as anencephaly) and spine (known as spina bifida). Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which parts of a baby’s brain and skull do not form correctly. Babies born with anencephaly cannot survive. Spina bifida is a serious birth defect in which a baby’s spine does not develop correctly, and can result in some severe physical disabilities. All women, but especially those who want to become pregnant, need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.Yes! Every woman needs to get enough folic acid each day, even if she does not plan to become pregnant. This is because our bodies make new cells every day—blood, skin, hair, nails and others. Folic acid is needed to make these new cells. Start a healthy habit today and get 400 mcg of folic acid every day.