Prenatal Tests 101 Routine Urine TestsSo throughout your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will likely hand you a little white cup and ask you to pee in it.  Urine can reveal an astonishing amount of information in a very short time period.  First, a well-hydrated individual typically has very light-colored urine while an individual not drinking enough water will have darker urine.  Beyond the color of urine, or hcg level in pregnancy, simple testing strips can identify four areas of potential concern regarding a pregnancy.  These testing strips test for bacteria, ketones, glucose, and protein.  Let’s take a look at why your healthcare professional is particularly interested in these four.

Bacteria
The human body is teeming with bacteria.  Some of it—the good kind of bacteria—is essential to our health.  That’s why yogurt with active cultures is so wonderful for our bodies.  It introduces the good kind of bacteria into our intestinal tract and helps to keep the balance of bacteria in our favor.  However, sometimes the bad guys outnumber the good guys and cause an infection.  While pregnant, your doctor should routinely test your urine for bacteria to determine if you have a UTI.  Urinary Tract Infections are common among pregnant women, likely because many women don’t have access to a restroom every 30 minutes during their last trimester.

Ketones
In addition to hosting a plethora of bacteria, the human body is a pretty complex machine.  Typically, the body creates energy by breaking down carbohydrates for energy.  These carbohydrates come from the foods you eat.  However, if you’re not eating enough the body may begin breaking down fat stored in cells.  The by-product of this breakdown can result in ketones.  The body can also produce ketones if it experiences dehydration.  If your urinalysis reveals unusual levels of ketones, then your OB or midwife will most likely review your dietary habits.  He or she may also refer you to a nutritional counselor to help your ketone levels return to low level.

Glucose
Glucose is a type of sugar.  And although it is normal to have sugar present in the urine, particularly high levels of sugar may indicate the onset of gestational diabetes.  This particular health concern often presents with other symptoms such as exhaustion, excessive thirst, and weight loss.  Some cases can be managed through dietary restrictions; your healthcare professional will provide you with a wealth of information if your test positive.

Protein
Protein in the urine can indicate several serious problems and will most likely require further testing.  It can suggest an infection in the kidneys or the onset of preeclampsia.  As with the onset of gestational diabetes, the onset of preeclampsia will often be in concert with high blood pressure and swelling in the extremities—particularly the hands and face.  High levels of protein detected in urine can be serious and your healthcare professional should work diligently to determine the cause and treat it appropriately.

Routine urine tests pose no risk to the mother or baby, and they can provide a great deal of information.  Many doctors will ask you to pee in a cup during your monthly check-up just to monitor your body, or your hcg level in pregnancy, and make sure everything is okay.  Urinalysis is usually completed at the doctor’s office during your exam, so you should know before you leave if any abnormalities exist.  It’s always a good idea to have as much information as possible to make informed decisions, and prenatal urinalysis tests will provide you with such information.