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Second-Trimester Exams and Tests

Topic Overview

Routine exams and tests

At each prenatal visit, you can expect to 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 and position by measuring the size of your uterus (fundal height) and gently pressing (palpating) your abdomen. Up to the 36th week of pregnancy, your fetus can regularly change position, varying from head down (vertex lie) to feet down (breech lie) or even sideways (transverse lie).

During your second trimester, expect the following routine tests:

Other tests

Your doctor may also recommend:

  • A fetal ultrasound in the second trimester before 20 weeks. An early ultrasound is commonly used to accurately date a pregnancy and identify fetal problems.
  • Electronic fetal heart monitoring (non-stress) any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy to monitor how your fetus is doing.

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.

Second-trimester tests for birth defects can be done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The triple or quad screening checks the amounts of three or four substances in a pregnant woman's blood. They can also be done as part of an integrated screening test. Amniocentesis may also be done to find certain birth defects.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised February 12, 2013

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