The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Experts agree that both hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) are a threat to pregnancy. However, they differ in whether all pregnant women should be screened for these disorders. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says you don’t need to be tested unless you have symptoms or a history of thyroid disease. Others argue that because screening is relatively inexpensive and simple—and has such a potentially profound effect—all pregnant women should be screened.
Emily wonders if all the ultrasounds her doctor recommends are really necessary. She’s healthy and wants to avoid interventions. She didn’t have a 6-week ultrasound and is weighing her options on the upcoming 18- 20-week one. Her question is can doctors really do anything about it if they find something wrong?
Emily, I understand your concerns. Women delivered without ultrasounds for thousands of years and now, it seems some practitioners hand them out like Pez.
Starting with the drugstore kit that confirms you’re expecting, you’ll undergo scores of screenings, urinalyses, ultrasounds and other tests during pregnancy. Yet few expectant women undergo thyroid testing, a fact that disturbs some experts. When moms-to-be with thyroid problems go untreated, they’re more likely to have pregnancy complications, and their children may be at risk for decreased IQ.
I spent a few days after our amnio obsessively Googling “choroid plexus cyst.” Most of what I read was entirely reassuring – tons of message boards where parents who’ve gone through the same thing talked about their completely healthy babies. I found academic studies that pointed to positive outcomes most of the time, especially in cases where the cysts are “isolated,”—i.e. where no other markers like cleft palate, heart defects, club foot, or clenched fists are found on the ultrasound.
I sat in the car, crying, looking at our baby’s ultrasound photos and trying to figure out what to do: Should I get the amnio or not? Could I just sit tight and hope for the best, expecting everything to turn out fine? No, I didn’t think so—I’m a total worry wart. I would agonize over it for the entire pregnancy.
Marci's newly pregnant. She hasn't even gone to her first prenatal visit. She's a nurse and calls herself a by-the-books kind of girl. She sounds like she's already on the path to having a healthy pregnancy—eating right, exercising and all that. Like every newly pregnant woman on the planet, she's worried about miscarriage. Oh, honey, if only we could wave a magic wand and skip over the first trimester with all the worry, nausea and fatigue and get to the good trimester—the second one.
It's going to be a long one this week, ladies, because I know this is going to hit home for a lot of you. A reader, I'll call Claire, sent me the most heart-breaking email. She has the toughest time with vaginal exams. Though she prepares herself as best she can, she's totally traumatized, has panic attacks and cries whenever she has to get "checked." She thinks she's the only woman in the world who feels this way and worries about all those cervical exams that come toward the end of pregnancy at her prenatal visits.
It goes with the territory: When you’re pregnant, you can’t help but worry about the health of your baby. Fortunately, there are a host of prenatal tests that can help ease your fears and make even a healthy pregnancy less stressful. Following is a rundown of the tests you’re most likely to undergo; see the chart at right for detailed information.
By her second trimester, Elizabeth Lampert, then 34, was used to the seemingly endless prenatal tests. So when her obstetrician drew blood for a routine procedure called a maternal serum screening (also known as a double marker, triple marker or alphafetoprotein [AFP] test), Lampert didn’t think twice. Until she got the results, that is: The test indicated that her baby might have Down syndrome or another defect. “I was just destroyed,” she recalls.
Today, expectant parents can take advantage of a wealth of prenatal tests to help ease fears and make even a healthy pregnancy less stressful — and sometimes treat serious problems. Here are the ones you’re most likely to undergo.