Depending on your individual circumstances and risk factors, some additional testing may be required for you or your baby. Here are some of the more common ones:
Biophysical Profile or BPP. This is an ultrasound that assesses the well-being of your fetus. It measures the amniotic fluid volume, the movements, tone, and practice breathing of the baby. This may be ordered routinely once per week starting at 32 weeks for women with certain medical problems or complications, and also may be used intermittently if, for example, the baby is moving less often than normal. If the amniotic fluid is low, we may test the blood flow through the baby’s blood vessels with the ultrasound to make sure the baby is getting an adequate amount of blood flow.
Nonstress Test or NST. This test is also used to assess the well-being of your fetus, and is used in a similar way as the Biophysical Profile. In this case, the baby’s heart rate is traced for about twenty minutes and then analyzed by the physician. You will be asked to note every time you feel a movement of the baby.
Growth Ultrasounds. For some women at increased risk of a very large or very small baby, we will follow the baby’s growth every 3-4 weeks with an ultrasound. Ultrasound is not a very good way to estimate how big a baby is due to its margin of error (up to 20%), but the trend over time can tell us if there might be a problem.
Amniocentesis. This is a relatively safe procedure where a needle, under ultrasound guidance, is passed through the abdomen into the uterus and some amniotic fluid is collected. This allows us to test many things, including the chromosomes of the baby if we were worried about Down Syndrome, for example.
Other Lab Tests. Some circumstances may arise that require additional lab testing. If, for example, you develop high blood pressure or Hypertension, we may check some additional blood work as well as a 24 hour urine collection to look for protein. This is used to test for a serious condition called Preeclampsia.