14th November 2016 • 4 min read
Standard Pregnancy Checkups And Scans You Must Take
Pregnancy can be best defined as a period of hope, anticipation and excitement. It is indeed a great deal of joy for first-time parents and even greater for couples who have been childless for long. This phase in a woman’s life comes as a package deal of sorts, on one-hand you have the sense of waiting in bated breath for your approaching D-day and on the other, you need to be extremely vigilant about your well-being and that of the unborn child.
So what is the key to having a healthy pregnancy and subsequent delivery? Did I hear somebody say, being happy? Yes of course it is, but alongside never forget that happiness stems from a sense of well-being and that you can ensure by getting the much required antenatal (before birth) medical consultations, tests, scans etc., done as required in a systematic and timely manner.
Choosing your gynaecologist:
If I have to vividly recall my pregnancy phase, one of the most prominent aspects which comes to my mind is zeroing in on the gynaecologist of my choice. It is important to go for a very experienced medical practitioner since they will have the natural ability to put you at ease and being an experienced hand, will help in creating a hassle-free environment for you. Feel free to ask questions. Without fail, be open and transparent with your doctor. They will be more than happy to answer your queries, concerns and will be even more encouraging if you are a first-timer mom-to-be.
Physical examination and consultation:
In the first antenatal visit, a complete physical examination of the expectant mother involving height, weight and more is done. Blood and urine samples are taken for checking for any anomalies, infections etc. Sometimes a pap smear test is also suggested. Questions around age, general health history of the couple, ethnic background, family history of genetic disorders if any, diabetes, blood pressure, regularity of periods, usage of contraceptives etc., are asked by the medical practitioner. Confide about everything with your doctor.
Further the estimated date of delivery (EDD) is also calculated based the last date of your periods.
The blood sample will be further analysed for Rh factor, anaemia, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis etc. Urine sample is examined for few of the conditions like urinary tract infections, diabetes and preeclampsia.
Usually checks happen on a monthly basis for women who are pregnant between 4-28 weeks then it changes to fortnightly for 28-36 weeks and finally becomes weekly from 36 weeks until delivery. In cases of high risk pregnancies the frequency of check-ups will be more. For example, in cases like the woman being very young (like in teenage pregnancy) or older than 35 years, overweight or underweight, having health conditions like autoimmune disorders, HIV-infected, cancer, high blood pressure and so on or bearing twins, triplets and more.
Ultrasound scans are really important to know more about the overall health and development of the growing foetus. An expectant mother generally undergoes a minimum of 5 scans to closely monitor the wellbeing of the unborn baby.
At the time of your first physical examination, the mom-to-be is asked to take an ultrasound scan to check for the physical development of the baby, heart-beat, detecting chromosomal disorders like Down’s syndrome etc. This first trimester scan can be done between 11-14 weeks.
Anomaly scan which is done between 18-20 weeks is amongst all the scans the most important one since it is elaborately done and is time-consuming too. The unborn baby is closely monitored for healthy organ development, checked for any signs of problems with the internal systems of the body, age and growth of the foetus.
Usually more scans are suggested based on the outcome of a scan already undergone. The final scan is done around 38 weeks to know the position of the baby and confirming on an expected delivery date, based on factors like water loss in the expectant mother. To quote my experience, my pregnancy was termed as a “breech” in the final scan and this became a deciding factor for me to undergo a caesarean delivery.
Pregnancy problems like gestational diabetes may crop up if there is a noticeable change in the sugar levels. Accordingly, glucose tests like Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) and Glucose Control Test (GCT) are suggested. Precautions and care will be suggested along with a close watch on your diet. Nothing to worry about, since I am one of those who gave these tests and emerged victorious in the end!
A woman has a gift in that she gets a chance to work in tandem with creation. Never forget to stay calm, happy and patient at all times as you prep yourself in line with nature to deliver a miracle on this earth.