During your last pregnancy trimester, what routine test are done?

(April 21, 2010)

It's very important for an expectant mother to get prenatal check ups regularly. There are some common tests that are done through the pregnancy. The tests that a woman has to undergo during the third trimester are Group B Strep (GBS) test, electronic fetal heart monitoring, nonstress test, contraction stress test and biophysical profile.

Group B streptococcus bacteria are present in approximately 30 % healthy women. These are also commonly found in about 40 % pregnant women. It is very important to do the Group B Strep screening during the 35th to 37th week of pregnancy because if the expectant mother is afflicted by the bacteria, she can pass it on to her newborn baby leading to life threatening infections. These infections can also cause impaired vision, mental retardation and hearing loss in the newborn baby. In GBS screening, samples from the vagina and rectum are taken on a swab and tested for possible bacteria. If tested positive, the expectant mother is treated with antibiotics when she goes into labor so that the baby does not contract an infection at birth. Occasionally, if tests have not been done on the mother, the doctor can treat the mother at the time of delivery. In electronic fetal heart monitoring, which is done anytime after the 20th week and usually during the 28th week and during labor, the fetal kicks or movement are counted to determine whether the baby is doing well or does he have a health risk. A healthy fetus will be active; however, a normal baby will not always kick aggressively.  

Women who have high risk pregnancy, that is if she is carrying twins or suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure, she has to undergo a non-stress test weekly. In this test, a fetal monitor is strapped around the mother's abdomen; this monitor measures the fetus' heart rate as it kicks or moves. This test is done if the mother is overdue, too.  Like non-stress test, contraction test is also done in high risk pregnancies to measure the fetus' heart rate in reaction to contractions induced by nipple stimualation or a medicine like oxytocin. A combination of non-stress test and ultrasound is called a biophysical profile, which is done to keep a detailed check on the overall development and health of the baby. Other than these tests, an internal exam to determine the size of the uterus and cervix and dimension of the pelvis is also carried out.

Submitted by P T on April 21, 2010 at 01:40

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