Pregnancy is filled with many questions, from the moment you see the two lines on the pregnancy test to the moment you hold your baby for the first time. The most common questions and concerns focus on the health of your growing baby. Thanks to new research and innovations, we are now able to identify helpful information about your baby while still in the earliest stages of life in order to help you prepare. This includes genetic screenings that can determine possible diseases and risk factors — even the baby’s gender.
During the first trimester, the expecting mother will receive an ultrasound screening that allows the provider to review the baby’s form and growth. This ultrasound also detects the baby’s heartbeat and allows the expecting parents to hear and connect with their baby. The expecting mother will also have her blood drawn to monitor her plasma protein and hCG & progesterone hormones, among others.
During the second trimester, around 18 to 20 weeks, an ultrasound is performed to examine for any abnormalities of the growing baby. Typically, if the provider identifies any potential concerns, they may suggest the family seek additional screening, including amniocentesis. This is the prenatal visit where most parents discover the sex of their baby.
Through the last couple years of innovation and research, screening for chromosomal abnormalities has greatly improved. This gives expecting parents the ability to screen as early as ten weeks and into the second trimester through a simple blood draw.
With this screening, many parents are ecstatic to find out their baby’s gender well in advance of the anatomy scan.
Is early screening right for you?
There are pros and cons to the incredible advance screening opportunities families can receive. And this, of course, adds another question for you in pregnancy: is early screening right for you? Consider the pros and cons:
Pros: It is non-invasive. It is done at a regular prenatal appointment. It does not cause harm to your baby.
Cons: It is only 80-95 percent accurate. It has a significant rate of 3-5 percent of false positives. Some insurance companies may not cover this newer screening option.
When seeking answers, always talk with your provider and utilize reputable resources for evidence-based information.