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Prenatal Care

Prenatal Care and Testing

Did You Know – All women should take 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily for three months before getting pregnant, and for the first three months of pregnancy. All prenatal vitamins, regular vitamins and children’s vitamins have 400 mcg of folic acid.

Once you become pregnant there will be a series of tests conducted throughout the course of your pregnancy to insure that everything is progressing appropriately. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect.

Initial Blood and Lab Tests

These tests are done at your first visit and include having a blood draw and giving a urine sample.

  • Blood Count: To evaluate for anemia and count the platelets.
  • Blood Type and Rh Factor: All Rh-negative moms will need Rhogam at 28 weeks to help prevent a rare condition known as HYDROPS, or fetal anemia.
  • Rubella Status: We check your immunity to Rubella, so you may be vaccinated after pregnancy if necessary. Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects.
  • RPR: RPR (syphilis) can cause devastating birth defects if not treated. Mothers can have syphilis and not know it. Treatment prevents the baby from getting syphilis birth defects.
  • Hepatitis B: Children born to infected mothers can get this hepatitis and liver cancer. A vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B is given to ALL children. There is a special antidote given immediately after delivery to those babies born to mother what “have” hepatitis B.
  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia: These are common sexually transmitted infections that are universally tested in pregnancy. Babies born to infected mothers are at risk of blindness from eye infection.
  • PAP Smear: Just like at your yearly exam…[read more]
  • HIV: Testing for HIV is offered to all pregnant women, although it is not mandatory. We have medicines which prevent babies from getting HIV from mothers. Medicine reduces the chance of mother-baby transmission from about 33% to ALMOST ZERO.
  • Urine Culture: Bladder infections (often without symptoms in pregnancy) can lead to kidney infections, and kidney infections are associated with early labor.

First Ultrasound

Most women will have the first ultrasound at or around Seven Weeks after the last period. This helps to confirm the pregnancy and sure up the due date.

Problem Genes

Some people carry genes for conditions they don’t actually have. The condition can be passed on to a child, if both parents have a copy of the gene. Cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia are two examples of these genes. We can test for these genes in the parents.

Birth Defects and Down Syndrome Tests

There are a number of tests which look for birth defects caused by abnormal chromosomes. These tests include:

  • CVS: A CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test is for identifying chromosome abnormalities and other inherited disorders.
  • Nuchal Fold Measurement: An ultrasound which measures the risk for down syndrome…[read more]
  • Amniocentesis: Procedure used to diagnose chromosome abnormalities and fetal infections via the extraction of a small amount of amniotic fluid.
  • Fetal Cell Screen: Examines the mother’s blood for the presence of fetal cells.
  • Quad screen test: Blood screening test for the mother that looks for four specific substances: AFP (alpha-fetoprotein is a protein that is produced by the fetus), hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone produced within the placenta), Estriol (estrogen produced by both the fetus and the placenta), and Inhibin-A (protein produced by the placenta and ovaries).

20 Week Ultrasound

To confirm that the baby is growing well and to look for all the fingers, toes and internal organs. This ultrasound can not necessarily find Down Syndrome, but it can find many other serious and rare birth defects, including spina bifida. If your baby cooperates during this ultrasound, we can often determine the gender…[read more]

24 to 28 Week Labs

We check a blood count for anemia AND a sugar level looking for diabetes of pregnancy. Diabetes of pregnancy does not show up until this time in pregnancy, so testing earlier does not help…[read more]

GBS Screening

Between 35 and 37 weeks all mothers are tested group B strep. This is a bacteria that makes about 1/2000 babies really sick. We can prevent this illness in most babies by giving antibiotics to mothers in labor. We do not have to give antibiotics to all mothers, just those who have GBS. We can not see GBS, so we have to test for it. The right time to test is 35-37 weeks. Treatment is usually intravenous penicillin during labor and delivery…[read more]