After your first blood tests, ultrasound and screening in early pregnancy, there are further investigations to be completed in later pregnancy.
A full blood count checks for general health and can indicate the presence of anaemia. Making the extra blood cells required during pregnancy requires plenty of iron, vitamin B12 and folate are also required to make all the extra haemoglobin needed. Your iron levels will be checked and supplements recommended if necessary. Symptoms of low iron include dizziness/light headedness, fast heart rate, palpitations and fatigue.
The OGTT tests for diabetes which can occur during pregnancy at approx. 28 weeks or earlier if you have risk factors. The OGTT requires fasting for 12 hours beforehand and takes 2 hours to complete. If you are diagnosed with GDM, you will be referred to a South West Healthcare dietician and diabetic educator for additional care and information about diet, exercise and how to test your blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
OGTT Preparation (please note this information is specific to South West Healthcare)
Gestational diabetes fact sheet – Baker Institute
Gestational diabetes – Diabetes Australia
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection which may have no obvious symptoms. In pregnancy, it can result in spontaneous miscarriage or stillbirth or cause congenital syphilis infection. Syphilis in pregnancy can be safely treated with antibiotics, which can prevent these complications.
GBS infection is tested via a low vaginal and rectal swab. You can perform the swab yourself.
It is a common fleeting bacteria that usually causes no symptoms in healthy adults, but during the birth process GBS can possibly infect babies causing serious illness. Women with GBS are treated with IV antibiotics during their labour.
For more information on Group B Streptococcus
This routine ultrasound provides a detailed scan of your baby’s body looking at their size and checking their organs to assess for abnormalities. The scan also looks at the position of the placenta, umbilical cord, your cervix and the amount of amniotic fluid present around your baby. In cases where an ultrasound reveals an unexpected problem, you may be referred to a larger/more specialised hospital (e.g. Royal Women Hospital Melbourne- tertiary centre) for further testing.
Depending on certain circumstances throughout your pregnancy it may be recommended by the obstetric staff to have growth ultrasounds to check on your baby’s size and wellbeing. This will be arranged as and when needed.
Further to first trimester genetic testing, there are some second trimester screening options (such as the NIPT) available as well.
Only a diagnostic test, such as an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), can confirm if your baby definitely has a genetic or chromosomal condition. Both diagnostic tests come with risks, therefore most women will be offered non-invasive screening first before deciding if they wish to have diagnostic testing.
It is important to remember that even a normal amniocentesis or CVS result cannot guarantee a fully healthy baby. There are many conditions that cannot be detected before a baby is born.