Every time your partner visits the doctor, she is going to be tested. She is likely to feel like an Olympic athlete by the end of the pregnancy, she is going to have given that many urine samples! But if you have done any research on what could go wrong during a pregnancy, then you will take comfort in the fact all of these tests are happening. It is much better to catch something early, rather than find out too late. With that being said, it can still be very confusing as to what all of the tests are for.
During the first trimester the doctors will usually start with a complete medical history. They will want to know about any chronic illnesses or pre-existing conditions that your partner may have. Were there any major illnesses or surgeries? Is your partner taking any medication, or any pre-natal vitamins? Do you or your partner have any genetic conditions that run in the family? They will also want to know about any previous miscarriages, abortions etc. Whilst this can feel very invasive, it is incredibly important to be open and honest with the doctor. The more they know, the better that can pre-empt any potential complications down the line.
Once this is out of the way, they will turn their attention to a variety of tests and assessment. This is likely to involve a complete physical covering height, weight, bra size, blood pressure and a vaginal exam. There will also likely be a blood test to check antibodies for diseases such as Measles and Rubella, as well as to check Iron level as iron is incredibly important for the baby’s development. Urine tests are also conducted regularly to check for proteins and sugars to ensure there are no illness, as well as any type of illegal drug use. This isn’t done so they can phone the police and turn you in, but such substances would obviously severely impact the baby’s development and the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy. If there is a history of genetic problems within the family, they may also administer a genetics test during this time.
Whilst a lot of the tests from the first trimester will be repeated throughout the pregnancy, there are also a couple of additional tests that are especially important during the second trimester. The main one is the Triple Test, which is also known as the triple screen test, Kettering Test or Barts Test. Its main function is to screen the blood to assess whether or not there is a high or low chance of the baby developing some sort of chromosomal abnormality. In plain English, is there a high chance that the baby may have Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, and a whole host of other potential defects. There is a reason it is common to hear parents to be say “I don’t care if it is a boy or a girl as long as they are healthy” as there is just so much that could potentially go wrong during the pregnancy. Whilst I am sure that all will be fine with your own pregnancy, it is important that you and your partner discuss what you will do if there is a high chance of the baby being born with one of these conditions. I am not here to preach a specific choice either way, its your own personal decision, but make sure your partner and you discuss this in advance and have an agreed plan of action, whatever that may be.
Your partner is in the home stretch now, so if there are no negative results at this stage, hopefully this leads to no last-minute surprises. By now, all of the routine tests have become normal. The only last-minute test you need to be aware of is the Strep B test which happens as your partner approaches the final month of pregnancy. Roughly 20-40% of healthy women may have this bacterium in their body, if they are present, the doctors will just take precautions so that they are not passed on to the baby during labour.
*If you would like a personal coaching session via zoom with myself to help you navigate your first time dad journey, you can reach out to me directly by sending me a message on social media or the “contact” page on my website to organise a session