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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. Your blood pressure will be checked. Your urine may also be checked for bacteria, protein, or sugar. Your doctor or midwife will track your baby's growth and position. To do this, he or she will measure the size of your uterus (fundal height) and will gently press (palpate) your belly. Up to the 36th week of pregnancy, the baby can change position often. The baby may be head down (vertex lie), feet down (breech lie), or even sideways (transverse lie).

During your second trimester, expect to have these tests:

Other tests

Your doctor may also recommend:

  • A fetal ultrasound in the second trimester before 20 weeks. This test is often used to find your due date and look for problems with the fetus.
  • Electronic fetal heart monitoring (non-stress) anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This test can help see 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. Think about what the results of a test would mean to you. How might the results affect your choices about your pregnancy? You and your doctor can choose from several tests. What you choose depends on your wishes, how far along 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 your blood. These tests can also be done as part of an integrated screening test. Amniocentesis 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 Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Rebecca Sue Uranga

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World Health Organization
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