Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Pregnancy Evaluation

The evaluation of pregnancy begins with a history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam.

The physical exam is usually normal at the start of pregnancy.

Tests that may be used to evaluate pregnancy include:

Pregnancy Downs Syndrome

The diagnosis of Down syndrome can be made before the baby is born.

A blood test may be performed between 74 to 94 days into a pregnancy, in order to screen pregnant women for Down syndrome. Combined with pregnancy ultrasound, this test can detect 85% of cases of Down syndrome.

In some cases, a special test, called amniocentesis, may be needed to detect Down's syndrome. During amniocentesis, a physician uses a syringe to remove a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus. After culturing the fluid, fetal cells are analyzed for their genetic make-up.

Pregnancy Fetal Movement

The simplest way to evaluate fetal activity is to count and record the number of kicks per hour during the most active period of each day. An abrupt change in fetal activity requires an urgent evaluation.

A pregnancy ultrasound is performed to evaluate the health of a fetus.

Pregnancy Prenatal Checks

Prenatal care refers to the health care you receive before you deliver. Prenatal care visits to a doctor normally begin sometime during the first 10 to 12 weeks of a woman's pregnancy. Prenatal care is effective when it is a combination of regular visits to your doctor and appropriate self-care during your pregnancy.

Facts about prenatal care:

  • Women who receive good prenatal care will have healthier babies.
  • Women who receive good prenatal care are less likely to have pregnancy complications.
  • Even if you do have a complication, good prenatal care increases the doctor's ability to detect the condition early.
  • Finding and treating problems early is the best way to increase your chances of having a healthy baby.

Additional evaluations include:
  • Routine prenatal checkups
  • Prenatal risk evaluation
  • Downs syndrome screening
  • Monitoring for decreased fetal movement

Pregnancy Prenatal Risk

The prenatal visit provides a wealth of information to the doctor. Part of the doctor's job is to communicate this information and help a woman optimize her own care and nutrition.

Common items addressed during the prenatal visit include the following:

Continue to Pregnancy Treatment

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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