As soon as you discover that you are pregnant you are going to go through a surprising array of routine tests, some of which might be badly explained or brushed off. This may not be deliberate, instead it's more likely the fact they are being given by medical practitioners who perform them so frequently every day that they forget that not everyone understands. Comprehending them might help you accept them, and not resent getting poked and prodded so frequently. Many of them you may not encounter, but the more common kinds you are likely to.
A blood test is likely to be the initial test, though there will be a lot of blood draws during the entire pregnancy. The first is to confirm the presence of a normal amount of HCG in your blood-the hormone that indicates a pregnant state. An excessive amount of or too little for your gestation can suggest an ectopic pregnancy or some other problem.
The AFP test is carried out via blood draw and measures the amount of a particular protein (alpha-fetoprotein) which is made by the fetus and that traverses the placenta, into the mother's bloodstream. It might be elevated in certain circumstances and it is these which physicians are searching for. These include the presence of twins, neural tube problems such as spina bifida and anencephaly, and a number of chromosomal defects, including Down Syndrome. When amounts are discovered to be greater than expected then more tests might be recommended.
Ultrasound scans are in all likelihood one test that most mothers-to-be look forward to. It is a chance for you to see the baby and see them moving. In addition to being enjoyable it's an important method of picking up on physiological issues, including more severe conditions such as Down Syndrome (by studying the thickness of a fold in the nape of the neck that could be thickened in certain conditions).
Glucose tolerance testing screens for gestational diabetes by seeing how quickly your system is able to manage the sugars you are given. This is important because a woman with gestational diabetes is more prone to have an extremely big baby, and is at higher risk of type two diabetes in the years following pregnancy.
Group B Strep is really a bacteria that may live harmlessly on a woman but during labor might cause problems for both the mother and child. For this reason it is often swabbed for towards the end of pregnancy and is a uncomplicated procedure. If the woman is discovered to be positive for that bacteria then antibiotics will be given throughout labor to avoid a risky infection developing.
There could be other things which are tested for based upon your heritage. For example, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and other conditions can be tested for if you have the appropriate heritage.
These kinds of tests will not pick up every single possible problem, nor will they give final answers if a positive result is delivered. Instead a positive will be the indicator that additional testing is required, and will direct your physician in regards to what test ought to be done. Obviously, if all tests keep coming back clear it is reassuring for the parents, but when they do not, it allows the appropriate medical teams to be ready for when the child is born. This will give the child the best opportunity for a healthy life.