Pregnancy Tests and Procedures

During your pregnancy, there are many tests and procedures you may undergo. These tests are to assess the health and progress of both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. To help familiarize you with some of these tests and procedures, the following are some of the more common tests performed during pregnancy.

First trimester prenatal screening tests

First trimester screening is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing done during the first trimester of pregnancy. This screening process can help to determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. Screening tests may be used alone or in combination with other tests.

Second trimester prenatal screening tests

Second trimester prenatal screening may include several blood tests, called multiple markers.  These markers provide information about a woman's risk of having a baby with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Screening is usually done by taking a sample of the mother's blood between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (16th to 18th is ideal).


An amniocentesis is a procedure used to obtain a small sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus to diagnose chromosomal disorders and open neural tube defects (ONTDs), such as spina bifida. Testing is available for other genetic defects and disorders depending on the family history and availability of laboratory testing at the time of the procedure.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a prenatal test that involves taking a sample of some of the placental tissue. This tissue contains the same genetic material as the fetus and can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities and some other genetic problems. Testing is available for other genetic defects and disorders depending on the family history and availability of laboratory testing at the time of the procedure.

Fetal Ultrasound

A fetal ultrasound scan is a diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. A screening ultrasound is sometimes done during the course of a pregnancy to check normal fetal growth and verify the due date. Ultrasounds are conducted during the first, second and third trimester for various purposes.

Genetic screening

Many genetic abnormalities can be diagnosed before birth with prenatal genetic screening. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing during the pregnancy if you or your partner have a family history of genetic disorders and/or you have had a fetus or baby with a genetic abnormality.

Fetal monitoring

During late pregnancy and during labor, your doctor may want to monitor the fetal heart rate and other functions. Fetal heart rate monitoring is a method of checking the rate and rhythm of the fetal heartbeat. The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate may change as the fetus responds to conditions in the uterus.

Glucose tolerance test

The initial 1-hour test is a glucose challenge test. If the results are abnormal, a glucose tolerance test is done.

A glucose tolerance test, usually conducted in the 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, measures levels of sugar (glucose) in the mother's blood. Abnormal glucose levels may indicate gestational diabetes.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

Alpha-fetoprotein screening is a blood test that checks the level of alpha-fetoprotein in the mothers' blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally made by the baby’s liver. It is found in the fluid surrounding the baby in the womb (amniotic fluid). AFP goes through the placenta into the mother's blood.

Fetal Blood Sampling

Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to remove a small amount of blood from the fetus during pregnancy. It is done as part of diagnosing, treating, and monitoring fetal problems at various times during pregnancy.

Fetal movement counting

Fetal movement counting, often called kick counting, is a way a mother can help monitor the movements of her unborn baby by counting the number of kicks in a certain time period.

Nonstress testing

A nonstress test measures the fetal heart rate in response to the fetus's movements. Generally, the heart rate of a healthy fetus increases when the fetus moves. The nonstress test is usually done in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Biophysical profile (BPP)

A biophysical profile (BPP) is a test to check the health of your baby in the womb. The test combines a nonstress test (NST) with ultrasound. A NST measures your baby's heart rate as it moves around. An ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of your baby on a computer screen.

Doppler Flow Studies

Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel. Waveforms of the blood flow are shown on the ultrasound screen. Doppler flow studies may be used to assess blood flow in the umbilical vein and arteries, fetal brain, fetal heart, and other organs.

For more information about testing and procedures during your pregnancy, call (314) 996-5433 or email us to schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor.