First-time pregnant moms may be caught off-guard by cravings, swollen feet, mood swings and exhaustion. But prenatal testing can be surprising too, say experts.
Here are five reactions they get from expectant parents:
- “I have to answer that now?” Parents are often not prepared for the questions that come soon after starting prenatal care. “They expect routine testing to be, well, routine,” says Dr. Janis Fee, board-certified OB-GYN with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. But then the provider (or the office staff) ask questions like, “If your baby has a defect, do you want a test to find out more?” Brace yourself for questions that may at first seem unnecessary or premature: Chances are they’re asked in good faith, and thinking about your answers honestly will help you make the right decisions for your pregnancy. If you don’t understand why a question is being asked, don’t be afraid to ask one back!
- “You mean there isn’t just one way to screen?” Even if a second-time mom had a baby a few years ago, she may find more options to choose from this time around. “We have more choices for prenatal screening than even 10 years ago,” says Dr. Fee. An accompanying and potentially unpleasant surprise: Sometimes they’re covered by insurance, but sometimes they’re not. Check with your insurance company about any tests your doctor recommends so you can plan in advance.
- “Really? It’s that accurate this soon?” Not only have testing options themselves increased, but accuracy has improved just as quickly. For instance, a noninvasive prenatal test (NIPT) starting at 9 weeks can detect 99 percent of trisomies 13, 18 and 21 with a very low (less than 0.5 percent) false positive rate. Whereas women used to just get an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), both invasive tests, now they may just have a blood draw plus an early ultrasound, says Dr. Fee. More and more patients are opting for these early tests, because of the improved accuracy and earlier diagnosis.
- “What’s a soft marker?” Dr. Christine Greves, a board-certified OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer Hospital’s Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Orlando, notices that many pregnant moms (and their partners if they have them) are taken aback when a test shows the possibility of something abnormal, especially when it involves a soft marker. “Our ultrasounds now have the ability to pick up such fine details that soft markers can be seen. Soft markers are signs that are associated with an increased risk for an abnormality,” explains Dr. Greves. A common one is the nuchal translucency, a term for the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck. (More fluid means a higher chance of something amiss.) If one or more soft markers are found, your doctor will likely suggest a diagnostic test (CVS or amnio) to confirm if there is a chromosomal abnormality.
- “I feel like a lab rat.” Many first-timers never anticipate just how many tests will be run, says Dr. Greves. One standard prenatal screening tool is an ultrasound. Most moms expect to get it but aren’t aware of just how many purposes it serves: Your practitioner uses ultrasound to locate the pregnancy, make sure it isn’t ectopic (implanted in a Fallopian tube), count the number of embryos, confirm your due date by measuring the embryo’s size and, later on, calculate the risk of common chromosomal abnormalities. You’ll also have a routine blood test, which, among other things, checks your complete blood count (CBC) for anemia, your blood type, your hcG levels, and your risk of passing on genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and hemoglobinopathy (if you weren’t screened before conception). Other prenatal tests may include a Pap smear and frequent urine cultures.
So it’s normal for all of the poking and prodding to make you feel like a bit of science experiment. Just remember, it’s par for the pregnancy course — and getting the tests you need now has lots of big-time benefits that help ensure your and your baby’s health.
Culled from https://www.whattoexpect.com/