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Prenatal Care and Testing

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Every mother-to-be needs prenatal care. Prenatal care is the regular healthcare you will receive during
pregnancy from your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare professional. Prenatal care should begin as early as
possible, ideally even before you become pregnant. You may hear this called a preconception visit. At this
visit, your doctor will talk about any chronic medical problems and medications. Additional testing may be
recommended. Your doctor will discuss your weight gain and exercise. You will also learn about nutrition,
which will likely including taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid.

The goal of prenatal care is to monitor the progress of your pregnancy and check for any problems that may
occur. Women who get prenatal care have healthier babies and are less likely to have pregnancy-related

Routine Prenatal Care: Your First Pregnancy Visit

You should call to schedule a prenatal visit with your doctor as soon as you realize you are pregnant. After
speaking with you, the doctor’s office may suggest seeing you soon, or may suggest a first visit around 8
weeks after your last menstrual period.

This first visit will include a physical examination. You will be weighed and have your blood pressure
checked. You will also have a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and infections. You
will provide blood and urine samples for a variety of tests, including tests for infections and anemia.

Your due date will be estimated. You will be advised to start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid, if you are
not already taking them.
Routine Prenatal Care: Subsequent Visits
After your first prenatal visit, you will schedule 1 prenatal visit every 4 weeks until about 28 weeks in your
pregnancy. During weeks 28-36, you will schedule visits about every 2-3 weeks. After week 36, you will
probably see your doctor every week. Sometimes, there are alternate visits with a clinical provider and with a
nurse. The visits are more frequent if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

At these visits, your doctor will weigh you, check your blood pressure, measure and feel your growing
abdomen, and check for swelling. After week 12, your doctor will listen to your baby’s heartbeat. You will
also have blood tests, urine tests, and ultrasounds. A screening for gestational diabetes will be done in the
second trimester. A screening for group B streptococcal disease will be done at 35-27 weeks.

At each prenatal visit, you should discuss any questions or concerns you have with your doctor.
Ultrasound During Pregnancy

© Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Prenatal Diagnostic and Screening Tests

The following table describes the most common prenatal tests used to monitor your pregnancy and identify
Test Description
Blood type and antibody screen Blood tests used to determine your blood type (A, B, AB, or O), and whether
you are Rh positive (your blood has the Rh antigen) or Rh negative (your blood lacks the Rh antigen); if your
blood type and Rh status are incompatible with your baby’s, you may need special care during pregnancy
Hematocrit and hemoglobin Blood tests that check for anemia
Syphilis A blood test that checks for the sexually transmitted disease (STD), syphilis, which can be treated so
that it will not be transmitted to your baby
Rubella A blood test to see if you have had rubella (German measles) or a rubella vaccination; if you have not,
you will be advised to avoid being exposed to the disease while pregnant
Hepatitis B virus A blood test to determine if you have hepatitis B, a viral disease that infects the liver; it can
be treated with medications, which must also be given to your baby, along with a vaccine, after birth
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) A blood test to determine if you have been infected with the HIV virus,
which causes AIDS; if you have, you will be given medications during pregnancy to reduce the risk that you
will pass the infection on to your baby. This test is valuable because of the power of medications to protect the
Varicella zoster virus Chickenpox (also called varicella) is an infection that can be harmful to your unborn
baby or newborn. Your healthcare provider can test for this by taking a swab of a rash.
Gestational diabetes A blood test to determine if you have gestational diabetes will be done in the second
Urine tests A laboratory test to check the levels of sugar and protein in your urine, which can help identify
gestational diabetes and preeclampsia; urine tests can also check for bladder andkidney infections
Cervical tests A Pap test to check for precancerous cells in your cervix, and swabs to test for the
STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia .
Multiple marker screening The multiple marker screening measures the levels of the hormones estriol, human
chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), in your blood. Abnormal results can indicate an
increased risk of some chromosomal abnormalities. A fourth test, PAPP-A (pregnancy-associated plasma
protein-A), is sometimes added to multiple marker screening to improve the ability to detect abnormalities in
the fetus (Quad Screen).
Ultrasound An imaging test that uses sound waves to view your fetus; ultrasounds can help confirm pregnancy,
determine the age and sex of the fetus, and possibly identify abnormalities.
Group B streptococcal disease Group B streptococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause illness in
newborn babies and pregnant women. This test is done with a cervical swab one month before the baby is due
(at 35-37 weeks)
Other tests Other tests that may be performed include testing the amniotic fluid, examining cells from the
placenta, testing your fetus’ genetics, and testing for tuberculosis

Revision Information
 Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
 Review Date: 12/2016 -
 Update Date: 05/20/2015 -


This article gave a basic run down of what a mother- to- be can expect from the prenatal care in
Sweden. It outlined how many prenatal checkups the women can expect. I was very surprised
at how many prenatal checkups the average woman would get. This article will be helpful with
my research because it presents a comprehensive look at prenatal care in Sweden. Which is one
of the highest ranked countries for prenatal care in the world.