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Why is antenatal testing important for pregnant women?

Antenatal or prenatal care is the medical care a woman receives during her pregnancy. This type of care is essential for both the health and well-being of mother and baby. Good antenatal care is needed in order to monitor your pregnancy progress and to detect any risks or preventable diseases that could harm your baby or complicate your pregnancy journey. Pregnant women are encouraged to receive regular antenatal check-ups from their doctor or midwife. Bloom Financial Services, together with their medical partner, Momentum Health4Me, discuss the type of antenatal tests available for pregnant women in order to clarify why antenatal testing is important.

Routine pregnancy testing and antenatal care

There is a range of different tests available during your pregnancy, including blood tests, ultrasounds and scans. While you don’t have to have all these tests, there are some that are recommended in order to monitor both the mother and baby’s health. Find out more about health insurance with maternity benefits with Health4Me. You can expect to be checked for some of the following:

  • Height and weight – This will be done to determine your body mass index. Most women gain between 11-16 kilograms during their pregnancy.
  • Ultrasounds scans – These are conducted to confirm a due date.
  • Blood pressure – This will be taken at every antenatal visit. High blood pressure is a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Health4Me maternity benefits: what does antenatal screening test for?

Health4Me is aware of the reason why antenatal testing is important, which is why there are a number of tests covered in the Health4Me Gold, Silver and Bronze maternity benefits. Some of these include:

1. Antiglobulin test

The antiglobulin or Coombs test is conducted to check your blood for antibodies that may attack red blood cells. While antibodies are part of the immune system, there are instances where these antibodies may target the body’s healthy cells instead of viruses or other diseases. There are two kinds of Coombs tests: the direct test that checks for antibodies stuck to red blood cells, and the indirect test that checks for antibodies floating in the liquid part of the blood, or serum.

Pregnant women receive a prenatal antibody screening with an indirect Coombs test. This is done in order to determine whether there are antibodies that could pose a threat to the unborn baby. The test is conducted by taking a small blood sample, which is sent away to a lab for analysis. A negative result means that there are no antibodies present in the serum, while a positive result means that certain precautions or steps will need to be followed in order to protect the baby.

2. Full blood count

A full blood count (CBC) is conducted in order to evaluate your overall health. This will allow your health care professional to test for a range of risks, disorders and infections. Antenatal blood tests will determine if you have a medical condition, such as anemia, which will need to be monitored throughout your pregnancy. A blood sample is taken for this test and sent to a lab for analysis.

3. Haemoglobin estimation (Hb)

A haemoglobin estimation test is conducted to measure the amount of haemoglobin in your blood. This is a protein found in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and tissue. A haemoglobin estimation test will determine whether your levels are lower than normal, which would indicate anaemia. If the haemoglobin levels are higher than normal is could point to issues relating to dehydration or even a blood disorder. Pregnant women are tested for haemoglobin levels in order to identify any medical conditions so these can be carefully monitored or treated.

4. Blood group and rhesus

A blood group test will determine what blood type you have, which can be Type A, B, O or AB. Blood typing tests are conducted in case you require a blood transfusion and to determine if you have a substance known as the Rh factor on the surface of your red blood cells. If your red blood cells do have this particular protein, you are Rh-positive. If you don’t then you are Rh-negative. Problems can arise during your pregnancy if the mother is Rh-negative and the foetus is Rh-positive.

5. Platelet count

A platelet count test is conducted to check for gestational thrombocytopenia, which is a pregnancy complication that occurs when your platelet count is too low. Platelets are cells that clot blood and slow down bleeding. This condition is quite common amongst pregnant women as they could be lacking in folic acid or their bodies could be producing an excess amount of blood plasma.

6. IgG: Varicella, herpes, rubella

An IgG or TORCH screen is a panel of tests used for determining infections in pregnant women that could be passed onto their unborn baby. These infections pose a serious risk to the foetus so early detection is important to prevent or reduce complications. The IgG test screens for antibodies of infectious diseases. These antibodies are immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M. The former antibodies are usually present when a person has had an infection in the past but is no longer ill while the latter antibodies are present when a person has an acute infection.

Some of the diseases that the test can screen for include:

Rubella. This is also known as German Measles. If this infects an unborn baby, it can cause birth defects like delayed physical development, heart problems and impaired vision.

Cytomegalovirus. This is the herpes virus. Birth defects caused by herpes include hearing loss, epilepsy and intellectual disability.

Herpes simplex. This can be transmitted from the mother to the baby in the birth canal during delivery. The foetus could also become infected while still in the womb. Birth defects associated with this disease include brain damage, respiratory problems and epilepsy.

The IgG test can also test for varicella (chickenpox), hepatitis B and C, HIV, human parvovirus, measles, mumps and syphilis. All of these diseases can be spread from the mother to the foetus during pregnancy and can pose serious risks to the baby’s health and well-being.

7. Creatinine

A creatinine test is conducted to measure the health and functioning of your kidneys. Creatinine is a chemical compound that is leftover from the energy-producing process of your muscles. Healthy kidneys should filter creatinine out of the bloodstream, which exits the body in your urine. The reason pregnant women undergo a creatinine test is to check for kidney disease and to screen for diabetes. The test can be done with a standard blood test or a urine test.

8. Glucose strip test

The glucose strip test or glucose tolerance test is used to measure your body’s response to sugar. In this way, pregnant women are screened for Type 2 Diabetes or gestational diabetes. In order to conduct the test properly, you won’t be permitted to eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before the test. A sample of your blood is then taken for testing. If you do test positive for gestational diabetes, you can reduce the risk of complications by monitoring your blood sugar levels carefully throughout your pregnancy.

9. Urine dipstick

A simple urine dipstick test is conducted during your antenatal appointments by urinating into a cup that is checked for certain things that could cause complications in your pregnancy. The most common risks are gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), and urinary tract infections, all of which can pose a risk to your pregnancy and growing foetus. A urine dipstick test can also determine whether you are dehydrated, which means you will need to increase your water intake.

Get health insurance with maternity benefits

Early detection, treatment and monitoring is the reason why antenatal care is important during pregnancy. Ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy by getting the right medical care for you and your baby. Health4Me medical insurance with maternity benefits provides comprehensive care and antenatal testing for expectant mothers. Contact Bloom’s office to speak to a trained consultant about your health insurance options and get a free quote for affordable medical insurance.

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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.