Understanding the Tests Performed During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant moms and dads, but it can also be a time of worry. Most parents spend a fair amount of time concerned with the health of the baby and mom-to-be. Fortunately, regular prenatal exams and ongoing testing provide essential monitoring for both.

As a board-certified obstetrician in Newburgh, Indiana, Paul W. Morrison, M.D., offers comprehensive prenatal testing throughout pregnancy, helping moms and developing babies stay healthy from conception through delivery. If you’re expecting, here are some of the tests you can expect during your pregnancy.

Prenatal tests to expect

For most pregnancies, the bulk of testing is performed during the first trimester to identify any potential problems as early as possible. Early testing also establishes baseline numbers for the mother. These numbers can be matched against numbers from future tests to look for changes or trends that might indicate a problem. 

Blood workups

Blood tests during the earliest stages of pregnancy can be very helpful in spotting potential problems. Some tests are performed only once, while other tests — such as blood sugar testing, for example — are repeated to keep track of your health and your baby’s health.

Blood typing

Blood typing is important for a couple of reasons. In some rare instances, a blood transfusion might be needed during delivery. Confirming your blood type ahead of time means you’ll be prepared, just in case. 

Second, blood typing determines your Rhesus (Rh) factor. Rhesus factor is a protein located on the surface of red blood cells. If you’re Rh negative, your body might produce antibodies that could cause problems during pregnancy. Women who are Rh negative may need special medication throughout pregnancy to prevent those antibodies from forming

Hormone levels

When you’re pregnant, your body produces a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). It’s this hormone that triggers the positive result in home pregnancy tests. In early pregnancy, abnormal levels of hCG could be a sign of a problem. HCG levels typically are only used in the early part of pregnancy to diagnose or confirm problems related to bleeding in the first trimester, possible ectopic pregnancy, or concerns over miscarage. Once an intrauterine pregnancy is seen (as opposed to an ectopic pregnancy), the benefits of monitoring this level go down, but may be helpful in some cases. HCG levels are also used in the second trimester to screen for some birth defects.

Blood sugar

High levels of blood sugar — also called glucose — could indicate a higher risk for developing gestational diabetes, which is a diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. As many as 10% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Glucose testing is often performed after the first trimester, but it may be performed earlier or more often if you’re at risk for diabetes or if you have diabetes prior to pregnancy.

Disease screenings

You’ll be screened for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), because some of them can cause problems with the developing baby or interfere with a healthy delivery. Initial blood tests look for specific STDs, such as syphilis and HIV. During the first trimester, you’ll also be tested for hepatitis and measles (rubella), two diseases that can interfere with pregnancy and affect your baby’s health.

Urine tests

A complete urinalysis looks for signs of infection and also measures protein levels. High levels of protein could mean you’re at risk for a condition called preeclampsia, which is associated with high blood pressure and organ damage. Preeclampsia occurs in up to 8% of pregnancies. Urine tests can also indicate the presence of diabetes.


Ultrasound tests may be performed during the first trimester and again later in your pregnancy. These tests evaluate how well your baby is developing, and they also look closely at your uterus and placenta to look for possible problems that could affect pregnancy or delivery. They also allow your doctor to set a due date, determine if you’re pregnant with multiples, and determine your baby’s gender.

Genetic testing

Genetic testing is performed at different times during pregnancy to look for potential genetic-associated diseases. If you’re interested in learning more about genetic testing, you can discuss your options with Dr. Morrison during your next office visit.

Regular prenatal visits allow Dr. Morrison time to evaluate your health and your baby’s health, plus they give you plenty of time to ask questions and discuss any concerns you might have. If you’re pregnant, book an appointment online or over the phone with the practice of Paul W. Morrison, M.D. today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What if I Have an Abnormal Pap Smear?

Getting an abnormal Pap smear result can be nerve-racking, but not all abnormal results are a sign of cancer. If you have an abnormal result, having a follow-up exam is critical for determining why, so you can get the most appropriate care.

Are Uterine Fibroids Serious?

Uterine fibroids are common, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause significant health problems for the women who suffer from them. Here’s why it’s important to have your fibroids treated as early as possible.

Most Common Causes of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Recurrent miscarriages only happen in about 1% of women. And though repeated miscarriages aren’t common, there are a lot of issues that can cause them. This post reviews several of the most common causes you should know about.

5 Signs of Endometriosis

Even though endometriosis isn’t rare, many women don’t recognize the symptoms. That means they can go a long time with the disease before seeking help. Read on to learn five common signs, so you can get care as early as possible.

7 Tips to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes some major changes in your body. Getting your body ready for those changes ahead of time can reduce health risks for you and your baby and make pregnancy as easy as possible. Here are seven steps to start taking today.