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Many pregnant women are surprised by the amount of prenatal tests that they are offered when they see their healthcare provider. You may wonder if all pf those routine tests that are part of prenatal care are really necessary. Interestingly enough, routine tests may vary from country to country and from provider to provider. Some are very beneficial, while others are more optional. From your ordinary, run of the mill urine and blood tests to more complex and optional diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis, it is always good to know what purpose the test serves.

Instead of just following your prenatal care provider's lead and saying yes to whatever they suggest, there is nothing wrong with first reading about the tests and then asking detailed questions about the test. Some questions that could apply to every test you are not sure you are comfortable with are:

What does this test aim to find out? Is this test carried out to determine the health of the mother, or the health of the baby? Does this test carry any risks? (Amniocentesis, for instance, has the risk of miscarriage) What are the risks of not doing the test? How efficient is the test?

Urine and blood tests are minimally invasive and aim to gather information about your general health. If you have vitamin or mineral deficiencies, gestational diabetes, or sexually transmitted diseases for example, it is extremely helpful to find out about that so that you can treat the issues at hand. Ultrasound during pregnancy is likewise a matter of routine in most places, but some pregnant women conclude that they are not necessary in the absence of a specific medical indication. Listening to the baby's heartbeat and taking maternal blood pressure are risk-free, while diagnostic and screening tests for birth defects may not have value for those who would not want have an abortion if their baby did have a birth defect.

Others conclude that they would rather know about big issues in advance. Tests for Group B Strep are not carried out routinely in every country, but can be life-saving. Are routine tests during prenatal appointments necessary? The answer is that some are, while others are not. And which ones are and which ones are not may vary from woman to woman. Good communication with your healthcare provider is key.

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