Pregnant woman

Healthcare: Important checks during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful time. You are growing a whole human being inside of your own body and that is a miraculous feat. But in order to ensure that your little baby is safe and healthy in your womb, there are a few important tests and check-ups that you need to have during your gestation period. 

In your first trimester, you will probably first go to your GP to confirm your pregnancy with a blood test. Your GP will also check your other vitals, your blood pressure, urine and sugar levels. Your doctor will also determine a rough estimate of how far along you are and your estimated due date. After this, you will be referred to a gynaecologist (who most likely works with an obstetrician and other members of a birthing team) who will facilitate the rest of your pregnancy. 

Under the care of the new team, you will be advised to take several screenings and tests throughout the next nine or so months. 

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is one of the most common screenings that happen during a pregnancy. Parents are usually excited to see their baby on the ultrasound machine’s screen. Ultrasound, also known as sonography, works by using high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from the inside of the womb. It is also used in disciplines other than obstetrics to diagnose issues in the other areas of the body.  

In pregnancy, ultrasound is used to see the number of foetuses in the womb, measure the foetus and track development. It also checks the heart muscle and tries to find indicators of any genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome. 

You are usually asked to abstain from food for about 12 hours before an ultrasound. Your doctor may ask you to drink a litre of water before your scan to fill up your bladder. A full bladder moves the bowel out from your pelvis into your abdomen, helping visualisation of the pregnancy, uterus and cervix, says Advanced Women’s Imaging. 

Amniocentesis

Not as commonly done nowadays, an amniocentesis is an optional procedure. It is usually elective and depends on the reading of the ultrasound at around four months during pregnancy. 

There are other reasons why it is performed, including paternity testing, foetal lung testing and diagnosis of foetal infection.

The procedure involves a long needle being inserted through the stomach of the mother into the amniotic sackd. A sample of the amniotic fluid is taken to pathology to run an array of tests.

The procedure has a few risks, but is necessary in certain cases where the mother’s life is at stake,  depending on the results.

Hopkins Medicine explains that depending on the position of the baby and placenta, the amount of fluid and the mother’s anatomy, the amniocentesis may not be possible. The fluid is then sent to a genetics lab so that the cells can grow and be analysed. AFP is also measured to rule out an open neural tube defect. Results are usually available in about 10 days to two weeks, depending on the lab.

Glucose Testing

A major threat in pregnancy, especially when the mom-to-be is older than 35, is gestational diabetes. In the second trimester, women who experience dizziness and headaches will have a glucose test done to check their sugar levels. 

The mom will be required to fast for 12 hours and then have a blood sample taken before ingesting a solution of glucose and water. After an hour, her blood will be drawn again. The nurse and doctor will also monitor the body’s reaction to the glucose.

Fundal height

As you grow (well, as your tummy grows) the doctor will check the distance from the top of your pelvic bone to the top of your uterus. This is referred to as your fundal height. 

If your fundal height doesn’t grow or is growing slower or faster than expected, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to check the baby and amniotic fluid.

General tests

Physical assessments are more common during the second trimester. As your pregnancy progresses, you will start having appointments more frequently. 

Check-ups include foetal movement assessment, foetal heartbeat checks and checking for swelling. The doctor will also assess your diet and check how much weight you have gained or lost during pregnancy. 

Healthline suggests that you should see your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms that include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain and persistent vomiting.

Pregnant women should also be wary of cold sweats, dizziness or severe or continuous headaches and blurry vision.

The Medical Society

An important benefit of the medical society is its testing facilities. Women are able to get pregnancy tests and pap smears. The Medical Society is a network of clinics that services thousands of people in need of primary medical care, every day.

Once you sign up, the low and affordable premiums make it simple for you and your family to get first class medical care. 

The Medical Society is South Africa’s first digital primary healthcare service. Save on medical and travelling costs and get quick, professional electronic consultations, as well as telephonic diagnoses at your fingertips.

The Medical Society also offers child nutrition and growth monitoring.

Advice on child nutrition, including breastfeeding, is offered at all facilities. The medical facilities offer a growth monitoring service, which includes checking the weight and height by age range and includes comparisons with developmental milestones against age.

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