Prenatal tests can help bring some peace of mind to expecting mothers who are starting to feel anxious during the third trimester. More importantly, these provide important information about the mother and baby’s health which can help the doctor make informed decisions to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some tests during pregnancy that are particularly done in the last three months before the big delivery.
Fetal Fibronectin (fFN) Testing
Prenatal testing can save lives and fFN Testing is among these as it helps determine whether there is a greater risk than usual of the baby being born before he reaches full term. Fetal fibronectin is a protein that helps the amniotic sac attach itself to your uterus by acting like a glue. This protein is produced by the fetal membrane during early pregnancy (up until your 22nd week) and towards the end of your pregnancy. If there is more than a small amount of the protein found in your vaginal secretions, this may indicate that the glue is disintegrating. Thus, your chances of going into labor and giving birth before your 37thweek are higher.
fFN Testing is one of the less common prenatal tests for women in their third trimester, usually between weeks 24 and 35 as it is only performed if the doctor has reason to believe that a mother may be going into labor prematurely. If a mother has had a preterm delivery in the past, this prenatal testing procedure may be performed as early as the 22nd week. It may be repeated after two weeks, though, as results are only valid for a limited period of time.
Third Trimester Hemoglobin and Hematocrit (H&H)
Pregnant women need sufficient stores of iron to be healthy as this is so easily depleted during this period. One of the tests during pregnancy, H&H, helps determine if there is a deficiency that needs to be addressed. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases your chances of having a preterm delivery or your baby having a low birth weight. Your baby?s chances of developing anemia during his infancy increase as well. Anemia caused by iron deficiency can also affect your health during pregnancy; you will feel more tired than usual and your body will have a hard time fighting off infections. If the expecting mother is indeed shown to be anemic, iron supplements can then be provided to help keep both mother and child healthy. This test is commonly performed starting on the 28th week of pregnancy.
Group B Strep
This may sound like one of the more daunting prenatal tests, but it actually checks for the presence of a kind of bacteria known as Group B (beta-hemolytic) streptococcus. Otherwise referred to as GBS, it is usually not a cause for alarm as less than 1% of babies born to 100 women with the bacteria are infected with early onset GBS disease. However, this disease is a life-threatening illness as it can result in sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia in infected babies. Prenatal testing for GBS usually takes place between the 35th and 37th week and will help determine whether or not antibiotics are required during labor.
The third trimester can be a trying, tense, and exciting time all at once. To rule out any health risks, the doctor will usually check for infections, symptoms of preeclampsia, and other such conditions. If you are in your third trimester, don’t let these prenatal tests worry you. Instead, take them for what they are: helpful tools to help ensure that both you and your little bundle of joy are kept as healthy as possible at a time when you absolutely need it most.