Routine Tests During Pregnancy

January 2nd, 2024 | 10:15 am

During the pregnancy journey, the doctor prescribes several tests to ensure the well-being of both the woman and the foetus. These tests also help identify and address any complications that may arise during childbirth. Overall, these tests are designed in a sequence to optimise prenatal care and foetal development.

Here, we have categorised these tests by trimester, though the timing may vary depending on individual risk factors and circumstances.

What are the Tests Done During Pregnancy?

Here are some of the tests done during pregnancy –

First Trimester Prenatal Screening 

Here are some of the prenatal screening tests done in the first trimester –

  • Ultrasound 

To establish the baby’s due date, evaluate the uterine and pelvic anatomy, ascertain the number of babies a woman is carrying, and identify foetal anomalies, pregnant women are required to undergo a first-trimester ultrasound at their initial visit. This test is done with a combination of maternal blood testing and foetal ultrasound test. Here’s what first-trimester tests include:

  1. Ultrasound for foetal nuchal translucency to check the back area of the neck.
  2. Ultrasound to check the nose to determine conditions such as Down Syndrome.
  3. Maternal blood tests to check plasma protein A and gonadotropin content in the blood. This is because an abnormal increase in both substances can increase the risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Genetic Testing

The decision to undergo these tests depends on the pregnant woman. This is the genetic screening test that can be used to diagnose several congenital abnormalities. Examples of genetic disorders that can be diagnosed using this test are:

  1. Cystic fibrosis
  2. Haemophilia A
  3. Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  4. Sickle cell disease
  5. Thalassemia
  6. Tay-Sachs disease
  • Urinalysis

The doctor might request a urine sample to check for the presence of blood in the urine, which can be an indication of a urinary tract infection or disease, as well as to test for glucose, which can be a sign of diabetes. It also assesses protein levels, as elevated protein levels might be a sign of preeclampsia.

  • Urine Culture 

This urine test examines microorganisms, which may indicate a kidney or bladder infection. Sometimes, pregnant women may have a UTI without experiencing any symptoms, and if the infection goes untreated, it could lead to complications. Additionally, many doctors may request tests for rubella, HIV, tuberculosis, etc., to ensure the safety of both the baby and the mother.

Second Trimester Prenatal Screening

Second-trimester tests typically include a series of blood tests known as multiple markers. These tests provide information about the potential genetic condition risk that the baby might carry. This test is typically performed between 15-20 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, glucose and ultrasound tests are conducted for a more comprehensive evaluation. Here are the tests included in multiple markers-

  • AFP Screening

This test is called maternal serum AFP, which measures the AFP level in the blood – a protein produced by the foetal liver. This protein can be found in the amniotic fluid. There is a chance that the fluid might cross the placenta and enter the mother’s bloodstream. Abnormal AFP levels can indicate:

  1. Open neural tube defect (spina bifida)
  2. Down syndrome
  3. Miscalculated due date
  4. Any other chromosomal abnormalities

In addition to this, inhibin, estriol, and human chorionic gonadotropin are some of the hormones released by the placenta, which are screened for potential complications. An abnormal AFP level necessitates further testing.

  • Mid Trimester Ultrasound

Between weeks 18 and 20, the doctor will perform an ultrasound to track foetal development, behaviour, and activity, examine blood flow patterns, and check for anomalies. It’s also possible to determine the baby’s sex based on their anatomy at this stage.

  • Glucose Screening

This test determines the glucose or sugar level in your blood. Elevated blood sugar levels may indicate gestational diabetes, which can complicate pregnancy. Individuals are required to consume a unique sugar solution for this test, and one hour later, blood is drawn.

Third Trimester Screening

Third-trimester screening usually includes ultrasound and glucose testing. 

  • Third Trimester Ultrasound 

You might receive an ultrasound if it’s necessary to monitor foetal development and positioning, evaluate the placenta, and determine the amount of amniotic fluid.

  • Group B Streptococcus 

At 36 weeks, swabs are taken from the vagina and rectum. The common bacteria GBS, typically present in the body, usually does not harm individuals. However, it can be transmitted to the foetus during labour if the mother is positive, which can be harmful to a newborn. To reduce the likelihood of the baby getting an infection during delivery, a pregnant woman will be given intravenous antibiotics if they test positive.

In addition to the screening tests mentioned above, here are some additional tests performed to thoroughly examine the foetus’s health:

  • Amniocentesis – Amniocentesis involves collecting amniotic fluid surrounding the foetus. This helps evaluate the foetus’s condition for any genetic conditions such as spina bifida. This is typically done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy.
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling – CVS or Chorionic Villus Sampling is a test that involves collecting tissue from the placenta. This is done to check for chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus. Sometimes, CVS is followed by a few blood tests.
  • Foetal Monitoring – This is mainly done during late pregnancy. The doctor may want to monitor the foetal heart rate and other body functions. The average foetal heart rate is between 120 to 160 beats per minute. An abnormal foetal heart rate might indicate that the foetus is not getting enough oxygen, which could be an emergency. 

How are Ultrasound Done During Pregnancy?

There are two types of ultrasound being performed during pregnancy –

  1. Transvaginal Ultrasound

In this ultrasound, a small transducer is inserted into the vagina and is positioned against the back of the vagina, capturing an image of the foetus. This method is primarily used during early pregnancy.

  1. Abdominal Ultrasound 

The healthcare provider applies a gel-like substance to the abdomen and glides the transducer over the abdomen, creating an image of the foetus.


Testing and screening during pregnancy are carried out to ensure the foetus’s safety and health, reducing the chances of complications later on. It is important to consult with a doctor from the early stages to ensure that all the screenings are conducted according to the specific pregnancy stage. As discussed earlier, all tests are performed based on the stage or trimester. If you are looking for the best hospital for routine tests during pregnancy, visit Giggles Hospitals today.