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Why get blood tests?

By Anonymous November 20, 2009 - 11:55pm
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Why do you have to have blood tests when you find out you are pregnant? Can you refuse them?
I have an abnormal fear- phobia of blood drawing.

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EmpowHER Guest

Alos, why take pre natal vitmains if you juice and eat a lot of raw greens and fruit. I don't really believe in pre prepared vitamins.What is the benefit.
I also don't believe there is anything positive gained by eating meat and milk products. In my book, one have MORE nutritional deficiency by EATING these things than by eating mostly vegan including kale, chard, beets, nuts, wild fish, fruits, etc..

November 29, 2009 - 2:31pm
(reply to Anonymous)

You are right: foods containing vitamins and minerals are FAR superior than in supplement (vitamin) form. There is some evidence, however, showing that the body can absorb the synthetic folic acid (from vitamins) better than in its natural food source. Just food for thought!

Many pregnant women can fall short of meeting their daily folic acid requirement, and the importance of folic acid is extremely crucial in the developing baby because it significantly lowers the risk of serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord (neural tube defects), as well as help with cell function and tissue growth of the fetus. It can also help prevent heart defects and other hereditary-conditions.

If you are eating folate-rich foods on a daily basis, and eat enough to provide you with 800 mcg daily (daily requirement in pregnancy; I have seen this number anywhere from 600-800mcg; non-pregnant women need 400 mcg), then check with your doctor or mid-wife about your preference to "opt out" of taking pre-natal vitamins. Folic acid-rich foods include:
* Dark green, leafy vegetables
* Whole wheat bread
* Lightly cooked beans and peas
* Nuts and seeds
* Sprouts
* Oranges and grapefruits
* Liver and other organ meats
* Poultry
* Fortified breakfast cereals and enriched grain products

November 29, 2009 - 4:22pm
EmpowHER Guest

It's a phobia. Not based on anything but I have always had it. I have only had about two or so blood tests in my life and avoid them whenever possible. It just scares me to death. I have fainted when i've had them done before. I know that it's silly, but I can't help it. I had to have an operation a few years ago and I was more scared of the blood test than the operation!
I really would want to know, though, if my baby had Downe's syndrome or another serious illness as I could not cope with having a handicapped child.
Thanks for the advice and kind words.

November 29, 2009 - 1:47pm


Despite the fact that you will need blood tests during your pregnancy, your anxiety about it is real and doing something about it will help you get through this time.

Have you talked to your doctor about this? She or he will certainly understand (and it will not be the first time they have encountered this, either. You are not alone in having a fear of needles or blood being drawn). In addition to relaxation techniques that Susan mentioned above, your doctor may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medicine that you could take an hour before the blood draw that would still be safe for the baby. Or if it's the feel of the needle that you fear, they can numb the area ahead of time so you won't feel it. But your doctor needs to know, so she or he can help.

What exactly is your phobia, Anon? Are you afraid of the needle? The blood? Or the process itself? Are you worried that something will happen? Have you had a bad experience?

November 24, 2009 - 9:10am

Down's Syndrome is detected through the Alfa-fetoprotein test. This test is done by drawing blood from the mother. Alfa-fetoprotein is produced by the fetus and mixes with the mother's blood. An ultrasound alone would not diagnose Down's Syndrome.

A high level of AFP can be an indication of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. However, high levels of AFP can also indicate that the mother is further along in her pregnancy than realized and her due date needs to be recalculated. A high AFP could also mean the mother is carrying twins, according to Kaiser Permanente.

A low level of AFP can be an indication of genetic defects such as a higher risk of Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) or Trisomy 18, a more severe and less common chromosomal anomaly.

It is important to understand that the AFP test is a screening test-- NOT a diagnostic one. Since it is possible to get a false positive, an ultrasound and Amniocentesis is performed if the result comes back positive. Many times, these additional tests will come back normal or it can diagnose the child's defect.

The reason why the AFP is done first is because of the risk of miscarriage. Miscarriage is the primary risk related to amniocentesis. The risk of miscarriage ranges from 1 in 400 to 1 in 200. In facilities where amniocentesis is performed regularly, the rates are closer to 1 in 400. Miscarriages can occur because of infection in the uterus, the water breaks or labor is induced prematurely.

Regarding your diabetes question-- yes, it is possible even if you eat healthy. For some women, the breaking down of sweets and carbohydrates becomes a problem during pregnancy. Eating healthy can certainly help prevent this but not eating meat can pose a nutritional deficit. Make sure that you take your prenatal vitamins daily as well as any additional supplements your doctor may suggest according to your blood test results.


November 23, 2009 - 5:15am
EmpowHER Guest

I thought that Downe's synodrome was diagnosed with an ultra sound? How is it done through a blood test.
Is it possible to become diabetic if you are very healthy and don't eat meat or dairy but all fresh fruit, vegetables, etc..

November 22, 2009 - 12:32pm
HERWriter Guide

Dear Anon

There are many reasons to get blood tests during pregnancy. Your blood type needs to be identified (if you don't already know it) but the other reasons are:

Checking the hemoglobin count
Checking for anti-bodies that may affect your baby
Checking for various sexually transmitted conditions that you may not even know you have, even if you feel great (Hep, HIV, syphilis etc) amongst other reasons.

Women after the age of 35, and especially when nearing 40 or beyond, have extra concerns such as Down's Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities so blood tests are used to determine this. Gestational diabetes risks (even if healthy and have no family history) are also increased by age 40 and this will be determined with a blood test. So these are all important factors that you will need to take into consideration although remember that a woman giving birth at 40 usually has a very healthy baby. However, there are risks that need to be kept in mind that she would not have at the age of 25.

There are lots of things that happen in pregnancy that we don't like. I don't like needles at ALL either but the blood draw takes a few seconds. Try to relax, implement some relaxation techniques and you'll be ok. http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/relaxation-therapies

You can refuse the tests but most would advise against it, as you may be doing a disservice to your unborn baby (you pretty much turn into "we" in pregnancy, no longer "I") but you are certainly entitled to refuse testing of pretty much anything in pregnancy (aside from birth - that's a must!). You may be asked to sign a waiver that you cannot sue if blood tests could have shown a problem that could then have been circumvented.

But it is your body and your choice, so do what you feel is right but make sure it's also right for your baby. Good luck with your decisions!

November 21, 2009 - 6:14am
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