Measure your abdomen to see if your baby is growing as expected.
Check your blood pressure.
Sometimes take a urine sample to test for sugar or protein in your urine. If either of these is found, it could mean you have gestational diabetes or high blood pressure caused by pregnancy.
At the end of each visit, your doctor or midwife will tell you what changes to expect before your next visit. Tell your doctor if you have any problems or concerns. It is OK to talk about any problems or concerns, even if you do not feel that they are important or related to your pregnancy.
Hemoglobin testing measures the amount of red blood cells in your blood. Too few red blood cells can mean that you have anemia. This is a common problem in pregnancy, although easy to fix.
Glucose tolerance testing checks for signs of diabetes which can begin during pregnancy. In this test, your doctor will give you a sweet liquid. An hour later, your blood will be drawn to check your blood sugar levels. If your results are not normal, you will have a longer glucose tolerance test.
Antibody screening is done if the mother is Rh-negative. If you are Rh-negative, you may need an injection called RhoGAM around 28 weeks of gestation.
You should have an ultrasound around 20 weeks into your pregnancy. An ultrasound is a simple, painless procedure. A wand that uses sound waves will be placed on your belly. The sound waves will let your doctor or midwife see the baby.
This ultrasound is typically used to assess the baby’s anatomy. The heart, kidneys, limbs, and other structures will be visualized.
Ultrasound can detect fetal abnormalities or birth defects about half the time. It is also used to determine the sex of the baby. Before this procedure, consider whether or not you want to know this information, and tell the your ultrasound provider your wishes ahead of time.
All women are offered genetic testing to screen for birth defects and genetic problems, such as Down syndrome or brain and spinal column defects.
If your doctor thinks that you need one of these tests, talk about which ones will be best for you.
Be sure to ask about what the results could mean for you and your baby.
A genetic counselor can help you understand your risks and tests results.
There are many options for genetic testing. Some of these tests carry some risk, while others do not.
Women who may be at a higher risk for these problems include:
Women who have had a fetus with genetic abnormalities in earlier pregnancies
Women age 35 or older
Women with a strong family history of inherited birth defects
Most genetic testing is offered and discussed in the first trimester. However, some tests can be performed in the second trimester or are done partly in the first and second trimester.
Your doctor or caregiver will insert a needle through your belly and into the amniotic sac (bag of fluid surrounding the baby).
A small amount of fluid will be drawn out and sent to a lab.
When to call your health care provider in your second trimester
Call your health care provider if:
You have any signs or symptoms that are not normal
You are thinking of taking any new medications, vitamins, or herbs
You have any bleeding
You have increased vaginal discharge or a discharge with odor
You have a fever, chills, or pain when passing urine
You have moderate or severe cramping or low abdominal pain
You have any questions or concerns about your health or your pregnancy
Gregory KD, Niebyl JR, Johnson TRB. preconception and prenatal care: part of the continuum. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 6.
Williams DE, Pridjian G. Obstetrics, In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 21.
Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.