Once a woman becomes pregnant, a number of tests are available to monitor the overall health and well-being of the baby, including:
Often used to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy, sonograms utilize sound waves that reflect off internal organs to provide an image of the fetus. The test is quick and painless. Sonograms can also determine your baby's size, position and condition by observing fetal activity, breathing, heart and amount of amniotic fluid. Determining the location of the placenta and fetus, diagnosing twins and detecting some birth defects or genetic diseases are also reasons for the use of sonograms.
At-home fetal movement assessment
Your doctor may ask you to keep a record of your baby's movements. The number of times your baby moves during a period of time can help monitor your baby's progress.
Fetal activity/non-stress test
A fetal monitor will track your baby's heart rate during any movement. This test is often repeated if you are past your due date.
A combination of a sonogram and a Fetal Activity Test, this test evaluates fetal movement, breathing, heart rate and quantity of amniotic fluid.
Stress test, oxytocin challenge test
Performed in the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace, this test uses a fetal monitor to evaluate your baby's reaction to contractions. If you are not having contractions, an intravenous line of oxytocin may be started or nipple stimulation could be used until contractions are recorded.
Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein
This blood test (performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy) may lead to the diagnosis of a neural tube defect or Down syndrome. A positive high or positive low result does not mean your baby will have a birth defect. If you are less than 15 weeks or more than 20 weeks pregnant, results will be either low or high. Also, results will be high if there are twins. Some variations in the AFP level may be normal.