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Tests During Pregnancy

 

Tests During Pregnancy
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Many women will have tests during their pregnancy to check for birth defects or genetic disorders. You will almost certainly have a number of ultrasound scans to check that the baby is developing correctly and to verify the due date. The other tests are not always necessary in every pregnancy, so you will need to discuss which tests are appropriate to you with your midwife or doctor. You will need to consider the difficult choices that might follow the results of any tests. These other tests include Alpha-Fetoprotien test (AFP), Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS).

The AFP test is a simple blood test that measures levels of a particular protein in the mother's blood. The results can give an indication of brain or spinal cord defects, Down's syndrome and the presence of twins.

Amniocentesis is usually performed at about 16 weeks of pregnancy and involves inserting a needle into the mother's womb to extract a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding foetus. This test is used to identify the risk of chromosomal disorders, such as Down's syndrome and cystic fibrosis. The test is associated with a small increase in the risk of miscarriage and is usually only carried out in women believed to be at high risk of genetic disorders.

CVS sampling is usually performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. A needle is used to take a sample of the cells that will form the placenta. Like amniocentesis, this test is also associated with a small increase in the risk of miscarriage.

Amniocentesis is usually performed at about 16 weeks of pregnancy and involves inserting a needle into the mother's womb to extract a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding foetus. This test is used to identify the risk of chromosomal disorders, such as Down's syndrome and cystic fibrosis. The test is associated with a small increase in the risk of miscarriage and is usually only carried out in women believed to be at high risk of genetic disorders.

CVS sampling is usually performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. A needle is used to take a sample of the cells that will form the placenta. Like amniocentesis, this test is also associated with a small increase in the risk of miscarriage.
Your Pregnancy
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A normal pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks so you will have been given an expected date of delivery (EDD). This date gives you an idea when the baby will arrive. About 85 per cent of normal deliveries will occur a week before or after the EDD. Most expectant parents will attend antenatal classes at their hospital or health centre. In these classes a trained midwife will explain the birth process and how to

cope with the demands of labour. You will learn about the different stages of labour, when to go to hospital and what options are available to control the pain of labour. Before labour starts, most women will start having non-painful practice contractions of the womb called Braxton-Hicks. These start anytime after 30 weeks of pregnancy but are most common in the last few weeks. There are a number of signs that you are in labour:

  • Regular contractions
  • Waters breaking
  • A 'show' of blood stained mucus
Contractions of the womb (uterus) gradually open up the cervix at the neck of the vagina ready for birth. As labour progresses, they will gradually increase in strength and length.
Useful Tips
When you first go into labour, it's a good idea to stay at home, and only go into hospital when your contractions are coming every ten minutes.


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