What’s With All The Checks?
By: Kayla Zuidersma
Did you know the average amount of ultrasounds for a low risk pregnancy is 2…..that’s it just two.
Ultrasounds are sound waves that bounce off the baby and back to the wand and then transmit an image onto a monitor. How cool is that! They are also a great way to sneak a peak at your growing baby.
But ultrasounds are not all we are going to talk about today. Lets talk routine check ups and ultrasounds.
Routine checks can be as simple as a blood pressure check and a feel for baby.
When you have an OB or Midwife there are a few routine things you may begin to pick up on during your clinical check ups on baby. One of those things is blood pressure. We talked about in earlier lessons how our blood volume can increase up to 30-50% during pregnancy which can cause our heart to work that much harder to pump blood to our entire body. Blood pressure is one of those things that can also be affected, simply put. In pregnancy women can experience an increase or decrease in blood pressure which is why it’s important that your health care provider is constantly checking your levels to ensure they are in a healthy range.
Another routine check you may have noticed are urine samples. Not the funnest but all part of it. Depending on your care provider, they may require a full urine sample each time or provide you with a small cup and dip stick for you to do a quick check on your sugar levels yourself during each appointment.
Fetal positioning and fetal monitoring were always one of my favourite parts of the check ups. Fetal positioning is when your midwife will check to ensure your baby is in the right position by feeling your abdomen. The optimal fetal position is head down but sometimes our wee ones like to be acrobats and flip around and may end up in a transverse (side laying) or breech position.
Fetal monitoring is the best part of it all. This is the part where you get to hear your little one’s heartbeat. Your OB or Midwife may use a doppler to check and listen to your baby’s heart beat to ensure it is healthy and strong.
Routine checks during pregnancy are the way your care provider ensures your baby is happy and healthy…
Now I’ll be honest not all checks during pregnancy are sunshine and roses. And let me remind you we are only touching the surface layer here but they are important to ensure mom and baby are safe at all times.
You may have heard of the following few tests done throughout your pregnancy. A simple one is a quick draw for blood usually done in the first trimester to ensure your care provider has your blood type and checks your hemoglobin levels.
A less fun test, also known to many as the glucose test or disgusting orange chalk flavoured drink, is done in your second trimester to check fro gestational diabetes. This test is approximately an hour in length and is done by drawing blood and checking sugar levels over time.
A really not so fun test is the GBS swab (group B strep swap). I remember the day my midwives told me I tested positive for strep B. I went home and I cried. Yep, I said it. I cried. I couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of my body producing a bacteria that would hurt my baby. This was when I knew very little but my goodness have we learned lots since. Including the fact that group B strep really isn’t so awful and is very common. This swab is done between 35 and 37 weeks gestation to check for the bacteria. Group B strep can grow in the gut, rectum and vagina. If tested positive for GBS your care providers will go over your options for delivery. They may discuss having antibiotics that are administered through an IV during labour to ensure there is no transfer to baby or you may discuss waiting for symptoms to show, such as a fever, before administering antibiotics. Although there is a very low percentage of the bacteria transferring to baby it is always wise to know your options so you can make an educated decision on how to proceed. I thought about explaining exactly how one would perform this swab on themselves but instead I’m going to leave this educational image here for you guys……you get the gist.
Ultrasounds can be a great way to see your baby but very few of these are actually required for low risk pregnancies.
The most common ultrasounds you may have heard of are the dating ultrasound, done in your first trimester, and the screening ultrasound, done in your second trimester. These are pretty standard ultrasounds. They check for things like your baby’s heartbeat, number of babies, measurements of baby, placenta location, baby’s movement and so on. Your screening ultrasound is usually done between 18 and 22 weeks. This is the ultrasound that excites all those who want to know their baby’s gender because this is when you can find out! Now of course, if you are more of an impatient mama you can always go to a 3D ultrasound clinic and pay to have an ultrasound as early as 15 weeks to determine the gender of your baby. Or you can keep it a surprise.
Another two ultrasounds you may have heard of are the Nuchal Ultrasound and Anatomy Ultrasound. Or maybe in your area or your care provider calls them by a different name. The Nuchal Ultrasound looks for genetic and non genetic abnormalities in baby’s while your Anatomy Ultrasound looks simply at the anatomy of baby, checks your amniotic fluid levels, looks for placenta deterioration and the movement of baby. The Nuchal Ultrasound is often down in the beginning of the second trimester and the Anatomy Ultrasound is usually done once you have gone past your due date.
In some case, such as with gestational diabetes, placenta previa or when you are over due your care provider may request extra ultrasounds to check in on baby or if they have any concerns.
It’s important to remember that each pregnancy is different so the number os tests or ultrasounds may vary with each pregnancy. Enjoy the video…..