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 non-invasive (minus the needle in your arm, rude) First Trimester Screen will likely be put in the books for some time between weeks 11 and 13 to rule out genetic abnormalities like Down Syndrome and Trisomy-18.
The First Trimester Screening consists of a blood test (for you) and an ultrasound for baby that measures 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 worth noting that about 5% of tests come back with a false positive, which can make for some intensely stressful conversations with a genetic counselor, and some seriously sweated out t-shirts. That said, it’s mostly accurate, and as an upshot, can even tell you the sex of the baby way earlier than the ol’ gender scan around 20 or so weeks.
So what happens if it’s positive? If either the blood test or the fetal neck measurement is abnormal your doc might want to then do a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) 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. The CVS tests for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, as well as 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.
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 also worth mentioning that not all insurance companies cover the First Trimester Screen, so be sure to ask about it before getting stuck with both a needle, and an unexpected bill.
It 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?