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Blood Tests During Pregnancy: What To Expect

 

At your very first doctor's visit, one of the first things you'll have is a blood test for pregnant women. Your healthcare provider is looking for a positive pregnancy test, but that's not all he or she is testing for.

Learn what other types of tests will be done with all those vials of blood.

Your blood test while pregnant may test for these things:

  • Your blood sugar levels.

  • Your blood type and Rhesus factor.

  • Hemoglobin levels.

  • Diseases like hepatitis B, rubella, HIV and syphilis.

  • Disorders like Thalassaemeia.

Depending on your personal family history, you could also be screened for cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. Your healthcare provider will go through your medical history, as well as your partner's medical history to determine which tests should be done. Sickle cell anemia, for instance, primarily affects people with African, Asian, or Caribbean descendents. If this blood test for pregnant women indicates that you tested positive for one of these disorders, your healthcare provider will tell you what the next step is in your care.

Rh Factor - Why This Is an Important Blood Test for Pregnant Women

Your Rh status matters a great deal, which is why this is an important blood test while pregnant. If you are Rh negative and your partner is Rh positive, your baby's blood could be different than yours. This is a concern when you're pregnant because some of your baby's red blood cells can combine into your bloodstream. Your immune system quickly realizes that these are different and attacks them as if they were a disease.

These antibodies can pass back into your baby's blood stream and actually destroy his red blood cells. In years past, babies who had a different Rh status than their mother were born quite ill, but medical advances have made this concern a thing of the past.

To help protect your baby, you'll be given an injection of Rh immunoglobulin, also known as anti-D. This will happen at the 28th and 34th weeks of pregnancy. The injection will coat the baby's blood cells in your bloodstream and destroy them before your body can develop antibodies against them. You'll also have an additional blood test for pregnant women to determine whether antibodies have already formed and be monitored if the test reveals that they have.

If you are concerned about your Rh status or you think you may be pregnant with a negative blood test, talk to your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice.