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Pregnancy and prenatal care go hand in hand. During the second trimester, prenatal care includes routine lab tests and measurements of your baby's growth. You may consider prenatal testing, too.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Prenatal care is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, you'll continue to visit your health care provider regularly — probably once a month throughout the second trimester. Here's what to expect at your second-trimester prenatal appointments. Review the basics
Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and weight at every visit. Mention any signs or symptoms you've been experiencing. Then it's time for your baby to take center stage. Your health care provider may:
Track your baby's growth. By measuring your abdomen from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone, your health care provider can gauge your baby's growth. This measurement in centimeters often equals the number of weeks of pregnancy.
Listen to your baby's heartbeat. At second-trimester visits, you may listen to your baby's heartbeat using a Doppler instrument or occasionally a modified stethoscope. The Doppler instrument detects motion and conveys it as sound, which allows you to "hear" the baby's movement — even though the movement doesn't actually make noise.
Assess fetal movement. Tell your health care provider when you begin noticing flutters or kicks. This usually happens at about 20 weeks — or perhaps earlier if you've been pregnant before.
Expect routine lab tests
Your health care provider may want to test a urine sample for sugar and protein. You may need blood tests to check for low iron levels or gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. If you have Rh negative blood, you may be tested for Rh antibodies. These antibodies may be harmful if your baby has Rh positive blood.
Consider prenatal testing
During the second trimester, you may be offered various prenatal screenings or tests:
Blood tests. Blood tests may be done to screen for developmental or chromosomal disorders, such as spina bifida or Down syndrome.
Ultrasound. An ultrasound can help your health care provider evaluate your baby's growth and development. It also gives you an exciting glimpse of your baby.
Diagnostic tests. If the results of a blood test or ultrasound are worrisome or your history suggests high risk, your health care provider may recommend a more invasive diagnostic test, such as amniocentesis.
Keep your health care provider informed
The second trimester often brings a renewed sense of well-being, but there's a lot happening. Tell your health care provider what's on your mind, even if it seems silly or unimportant. Nothing is too trivial when it comes to your health — or your baby's health.