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Everything you need to know about blood test during pregnancy

June 8, 2024

Tests during pregnancy are very common and in fact necessary to ensure the pregnancy is coming along smoothly without any complications. These tests include blood tests, urine tests as well as scans. Blood tests during pregnancy help assess the health of both the mother and the baby. It also helps in identifying potential issues if any.

So, what are the various blood tests one may have to take throughout her pregnancy? If you are pregnant or want to know about blood tests during pregnancy, this one is for you.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Naseem Pervin for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

Blood Tests During Pregnancy

Some of the common blood tests you may have to take during the initial few weeks of your pregnancy are:

1. CBC – Complete Blood Count

This blood test will check the overall health of the blood. This blood test will help identify issues such as anemia, infections, or even serious conditions like Leukemia. It will also measure –

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to various parts of the body including the uterus
  • White blood cells that help fight infections
  • Haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen
  • Hematocrit to check how much red blood cells are present in the blood
  • Platelets that are responsible for the blood to clot

If the CBC shows any abnormalities, the doctors will request further tests to understand the condition better.

2. Rh Factor and Blood Type

The Rh factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of the blood. When the Rh protein is present on the surface of the blood, your blood group will be a positive blood group. When the Rh factor is not present, the blood group will be negative.

If the mother’s blood type is Rh negative, the doctors will check the fetus’ blood type. If the fetus has a Rh-positive blood type, it can lead to Rh incompatibility, a rare complication in pregnancy.

In case of Rh incompatibility, the mother’s immune system may recognize the baby’s blood as a foreign invader and produce antibodies to attack it, leading to Rh sensitization. A shot of immune globulin can prevent this from happening in pregnancy. Failure to stop the Rh sensitization, can lead to the destruction of the baby’s blood cells.

The blood from the baby will not generally mix with that of the mother. this can usually happen only during childbirth, trauma to the abdomen, vaginal bleeding, or other pregnancy complications.

3. Maternal Serum Test

This is a first-trimester blood test that checks for plasma protein A and hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). Plasma protein A is the protein the placenta produces in the early stages of the pregnancy. If these levels are abnormal, it indicates an increase in the risk of chromosomal abnormality.

hCG is the pregnancy hormone the blood tests first check for to confirm pregnancy. If the hCG levels do not increase as per expectations, it can indicate a chromosomal abnormality or even a miscarriage.

4. Multiple Markers

Blood tests during pregnancy second trimester are generally done to test for genetic abnormalities. These blood tests will check various parameters like the AFP. AFP is a protein produced by the baby’s liver and is usually present in the amniotic fluid. If the maternal blood test shows abnormal levels of AFP, it can indicate a twin pregnancy, a miscalculated due date, chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, defects in the abdominal wall, or spina bifida.

In case of any abnormalities in these markers, the doctors will take further blood tests to rule out other complications. Remember, the diagnosis of these multiple markers is not always 100% accurate.

5. Others

Blood tests are also done to check for sickle cell, thalassemia, hepatitis B, Syphilis, HIV, Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome, based on where you are. Different regions have different risks and the blood tests will check for those possibilities. Your doctor may take further blood tests if the results are abnormal or concerning,

Blood tests during the second trimester will also test for gestational diabetes, hypertension, and other health issues that may arise during the pregnancy. Some doctors will conduct a glucose tolerance test, to check how the mother’s body processes the glucose given in large doses.

When Are These Blood Tests Done?

Blood tests are usually done at the beginning of the pregnancy to confirm pregnancy. The next blood test may be a few weeks later to check other parameters. Unless you are checking your blood glucose levels, one blood test is sufficient to check all parameters. In the case of a glucose test, you may have to take a test on an empty stomach to check your fasting blood sugars and take another test 2 hours after a meal.

Once your doctor writes out the various tests for you, you can ask your doctor or the lab technician about when you should come for the blood tests. They will advise you about the timing, what you can or cannot eat before the test, etc.

Most of these screening tests for infectious diseases happen at the beginning of the pregnancy or before you complete 20 weeks.

How To Prepare For Blood Tests During Pregnancy

Blood tests during pregnancy are just like any other blood tests. You need not prepare for it in any specific way.

Conclusion

Blood tests during pregnancy are very common and are a necessity. These blood tests help in identifying many potential issues that can be treated before they can cause any permanent damage to the baby. Most doctors ask for the same set of blood tests. The timing of the tests may vary from one healthcare professional to another.

FAQs

1. Are blood tests during pregnancy necessary?

Yes, blood tests during pregnancy are essential to not only confirm your pregnancy but to also identify other potential health issues in the baby or the mother.

2. Are blood tests during pregnancy compulsory?

No, most of the blood tests are not compulsory but all doctors or midwives will advise to take them. These blood tests help in identifying potential risks and help healthcare professionals to come up with treatments or birth plans accordingly.

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