This is also around the time when you’re going to want to start thinking about prenatal testing and if you’re going to have them done.
You may already have had many of the first trimester tests done such as:
- Pap smear: to check for abnormal cells, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
- Blood test: to test for hepatitis b, syphilis, HIV, and immunity to rubella (German measles) and chicken pox.
- Urine test: to check for urinary tract infections, protein, sugar and ketone levels.
- Glucose test: if you’re at a high risk for gestational diabetes you may have this test done now. This consists of having your blood taken, then drinking a sugary drink that even a sugar junky would say, “Damn, that’s sweet!” then having your blood taken again to see how your body deals with the sugar.
As for your baby, the two tests that are coming up for consideration are the First Trimester Screening / Nuchal Translucency Screening, and Chorionic villus sampling (CVS).
Both test for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome but CVS also tests for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, although, unlike an amniocentesis, it can not detect neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
The First Trimester Screening consists of a blood test (for you) and an ultrasound to measure the fluid under your baby’s skin behind its neck. The results are combined to decide whether further testing is needed. A positive result does not mean there’s an abnormality, just that it’s worth checking into further. It’s not invasive – unless you consider a blood test invasive (I do. I hate that shit.). The upshot of doing the blood test is that they can now determine the sex of your baby from your blood sample (crazy, right?) so be sure to ask your practitioner if that’s info you’ll be getting. Some insurance companies don’t cover it and some practitioners don’t check for it, but it’s work asking if you’re super excited to find your baby’s sex. If either the blood test or the fetal neck measurement is abnormal your doc might want to then do a CVS at a later appointment.
CVS is when a doctor takes a tiny tissue sample from your placenta through either your cervix (most common method) or your abdomen (similar to an amnio). The technician uses ultrasound to help guide the procedure then the sample is sent to a lab for analysis. Both methods are considered more uncomfortable than painful (similar to a pap smear) but there is a low risk of miscarriage with this one.
Some parents choose not to pursue these tests because terminating a pregnancy is not an option no matter what the results are, or they aren’t comfortable with miscarriage risks that come with a CVS test. For other parents, they want to know as early as possible what issues, if any, there are so they can pursue possible treatments and interventions or make the decision whether to carry the pregnancy to term.
It’s can be a really tough decision for parents so it’s good to have a think about it before you’re asked if you want to do them.
Sorry, this week was heavy. Look at the chipmunk and the ewok again to lighten the mood, okay?