Tests to Expect When You're Pregnant

Seven medical tests typically offered to pregnant women


You thought you’d finished with tests when you graduated from school. Surprise! Now that you’re pregnant, there’s another list of tests – one that varies a bit from one province to another.

Unlike high school tests, you can decline to have any of them done. Just because a test is available doesn’t mean you should do it: if you're undecided ask yourself first what you will do with the information the test provides?



Here are some of the tests typically offered to pregnant women:


Initial Blood Tests

Early on, your caregiver will take a sample of your blood. This is used to get your blood type, iron level, immunity to Rubella (German measles), and to test for syphilis, Hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS.  You can decline to be tested for HIV even if you want the other tests done.


First Trimester Screening (FTS) or Integrated Prenatal Screening (IPS)

Both of these tests screen for Down syndrome; the IPS also screens for spina bifida. The tests don’t indicate whether or not your baby actually has the condition but will tell you if you are at a higher risk. An amniocentesis can confirm whether your baby has one of these conditions. The tests need to be done at a specific time during pregnancy.


Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound

This is another test for Down syndrome which can be done as part of the IPS. The ultrasound technician measures the size of a translucent area at the back of the baby’s neck to determine if the baby is at higher risk of having Down syndrome. Again, this test needs to be done at a specific time (11 to 14 weeks).


Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

This involves using a need to take some of the placenta cells that can be tested for genetic diseases. It can be done at 10 to 12 weeks. There is a small risk of miscarriage or infection.



By inserting a needle into your uterus, the technician can extract some amniotic fluid which will contain some of the baby’s cells. These can then be tested for various genetic diseases. This test can be done at 14 to 16 weeks. Again, there is a risk of miscarriage and infection.


Glucose Tolerance Testing

After a period of fasting, the mother is given a sugary drink and her blood sugars are measured. If her blood sugars are high, she is diagnosed with gestational diabetes and treated with a restricted diet or medication. This test is typically done between 24 and 28 weeks.


Group B Strep (GBS) Testing

Another blood test, usually given between 35 and 37 weeks, to determine if you have this infection, which can be transferred to the baby at birth. Mothers who have it are usually given antibiotics during labour.

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