Prenatal Tests 101 Routine Blood Tests and Serum hcgBlood tests are an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy.  And as long as they are conducted properly with a sterile needle, they pose no danger to the mother or baby.  So why should you submit yourself to that little prick when your doctor or midwife asks?  Because your blood exists as a journal regarding what’s happening throughout your body.  Since the blood travels everywhere, it picks up important pieces of information  (such as serum hcg) that can reveal itself when tested in a lab.  Still not sure you want to give a vial (or several ) up?  Here are 7 reasons why prenatal blood tests are a good idea.

1.  Identifies Blood Type
It’s important to know your blood type whether you plan to experience a natural birth or schedule a C-section surgery.  Just in case you need a transfusion, this is important information to know.

2.  Identifies Rh Factor
All people are either Rh positive or Rh negative.  If you carry the Rh antigen, then you’re positive; approximately 85% of people fall into this category.  Interestingly, just because a mother is positive doesn’t mean her baby will be.  Because a baby carries half of its father’s DNA, a baby may be the opposite Rh factor than the mother. When a mother and her baby have different Rh factors, problems can occur.  During a typical pregnancy, the baby and mother’s blood will not mingle; however during delivery the possibility of mingling can exist.  If the baby’s blood enters the mother’s body, her body will identify the Rh protein as an invader and begin producing antibodies, which can lead to serious complications.

3.  Identifies Rubella
A blood test ascertains whether or not antibodies for rubella are present in your blood.  Although most individuals are vaccinated against rubella as children, the effectiveness of the vaccine can wear off into adulthood, leaving individuals vulnerable to this disease.

4.  Identifies Hemoglobin Levels
Think back to your high school science class.  Can you remember the function of hemoglobin in the body?  Oxygen.  A good hemoglobin level means that your red blood cells are carrying enough oxygen throughout your body—and this is especially important as your little one grows.

5.  Identifies Iron Levels
Testing for iron levels can identify whether or not your body is suffering from an iron deficiency.  Iron is crucial during pregnancy not only to maintain the mother’s health, but to ensure that the fetus is developing.  Thankfully, low iron levels can be addressed through diet, injections, and/or supplementation.

6.  Identifies Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is one of those things that many adults may have, but not suffer from.  It’s caused by a parasite with a long name: Toxoplasmagondii.  This parasite exists in feces, and people are often exposed through infected soil or cat litter.  However, this is not so for your baby.  Toxoplasmosis can cause a variety of complications including learning disabilities.  If you test positive, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.

7.  Identifies STDs
A standard blood test can reveal whether or not you have a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which could be passed onto your baby during birth.  Since some STDs show no symptoms, it’s a good idea to rule out that these are present in your body.  Most doctors recommend testing for syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV.  And since the lab will be testing for a variety of other stuff, throwing this one in is just for good measure.

You know the saying “The juice was worth the squeeze”?  Well, during your pregnancy, your blood test or serum hcg is worth the prick. Your doctor or midwife will most likely test your blood at least once during each trimester.  Hopefully your blood test will return with all expected results; but if it doesn’t, you’ll have the information you need to move forward to ensure not only your health, but the health of your baby.