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Which are the Third Trimester Maternity Tests?

By the time the third trimester starts, you would have spent a long time taking care of yourself and your baby. In the past six months, you would also have noticed several changes. You might feel constantly tired, uncomfortable, or sometimes even irritated (fairly so). Pregnancy brings not just physical but also mental changes. These are normal and usually nothing to worry about. It is, however, important to be regular with your appointments and checkups to make sure everything goes smoothly. For this, several third-trimester maternity tests are undertaken. These appointments are scheduled every two to four weeks. Let us go through the process to make sure you and your baby are on the safest track.

Basics first

When you reach for your appointment, the first thing that your doctor will do is take measurements. This means your weight and blood pressure are checked. Further, the size of your baby bump is also taken note of to examine the baby’s growth. 

It is good to have a conversation about the kicks and movements of your baby. Anything that feels out of the ordinary can be discussed. It will either help in taking precautions or give you some relief when you realise the normality of the situation.

Two basic tests are that of urine and blood. Your doctor would ask you to provide a urine sample to check for protein and sugar. Sugar in the sample can be a sign of gestational diabetes. As for protein, it can indicate a risk of preeclampsia.

Blood tests are done to make sure you have enough healthy red blood cells. If you were anemic before or early in the pregnancy, this becomes even more essential. 

Another thing that is quite common throughout the pregnancy is an ultrasound. It becomes even more important during the third trimester to check the baby’s position and health. Pelvic exams are also done at a later stage to analyse the dilation and softening of the cervix.

The third-trimester maternity tests

The third-trimester maternity tests are done to check the progress made by the fetus. These ensure that the growing baby is safe from infections. Let us talk about some of these:

Group B Strep Test

Group B streptococcus is a bacteria that causes no symptoms but can be found in adults. Especially in women, this can be present in the vagina, bladder, or throat. Even though it may go unnoticed in adults, it can cause fatal infections in newborns. 

This third-trimester maternity test makes sure that the fetus is safe from exposure to this bacteria. The doctor takes a swab from the vagina and the rectum. This is sent to the lab for testing. If the bacteria is found in the results, antibiotics are given during labour. This is to protect the baby from being exposed.

Electronic Fetal Heart Rate

As the name suggests, this third-trimester maternity test checks the fetal heart rate. This can be done anytime after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. It observes the health of the baby and if anything can be a matter of concern. This test may be done during labour as well.

Non-stress Test

This test is ordered for high-risk pregnancies. It is also requested if you feel the movement of the baby is not normal or if you are past your due date. 

This third-trimester maternity test confirms the proper functioning of the placenta. It is called a ‘non-stress’ test as no stress is placed on the fetus. It is free from any risk to the mother and the baby. Here, a fetal monitor is placed on the mother’s abdomen. It records the movement and the heart rate of the baby. The process takes about half an hour. 

Contraction Stress Test

This third-trimester maternity test is also called the Oxytocin Challenge Test. It also measures the fetal heart rate. The difference is that it is based on uterine contractions. This means some amount of stress is placed, but it surely is not harmful. The nipples are stimulated to generate mild contractions. The goal is to see how the baby responds to these contractions, which will be present at a higher degree during labour. 

What happens during contractions is that the blood flow to the placenta is reduced. This can fluctuate the baby’s heart rate. This test gives the doctor a better idea of how stable the heart rate is, so proper care can be taken when it’s time to deliver.

The final push

As you head to the last trimester of pregnancy, it is time for the final push (no pun intended). This period is when you must be cautious. Weekly appointments with your doctor will help in making this time stress-free. It is essential to be aware of the changes. But, also enjoy and appreciate the magic you are creating.

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