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First-Trimester Exams and Tests

Topic Overview

Routine exams

At each prenatal visit during your first-trimester, you'll be weighed and have your blood pressure checked. Your urine may also be checked for bacteria, protein, or sugar. Your doctor will monitor your fetus's growth by measuring the height of your uterus (fundal height) above your pubic bone.

Using a Doppler ultrasound, you should be able to hear your fetus's heartbeat as early as weeks 10 to 12. By the 20th week, the fetal heart tone is strong enough to hear with a specialized stethoscope (fetoscope).

Other testing

Pregnant women and their partners can choose whether to have tests for birth defects. It can be a hard and emotional choice. You need to think about what the results of a test would mean to you and how they might affect your choices about your pregnancy. You and your doctor can choose from several tests. What you choose depends on your wishes, where you are in your pregnancy, your family health history, and what tests are available in your area. You may have no tests, one test, or several tests.

First-trimester tests for birth defects can be done at around 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, depending on the test. Many doctors use a number of tests together, based on what is available. The nuchal translucency test and the first-trimester blood tests are often done together in what is called the first-trimester screening. They can also be done as part of an integrated screening test. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) may also be done to find certain birth defects.

Experts recommend that all pregnant women be screened for depression during their pregnancy. Depression is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. If you have symptoms of depression during pregnancy or are depressed and learn that you are pregnant, make a treatment plan with your doctor right away. Not treating depression can cause problems during pregnancy and birth. To find out if you are depressed, your health care provider will ask you questions about your health and your feelings.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
Rebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Centers for Disease Control

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