The last trimester is an important phase and calls for close monitoring of the development of the multiple foetuses inside the mother’s body. Mothers and family members would all be anxious as there are chances of premature delivery of twins. Regular screening and testing hence becomes imperative.The below list gives a comprehensive list of the most common tests that a mother has to undergo during the third trimester:
- Blood and urine tests – These are routine tests that need to be done periodically to keep a tab on the mother’s urine and to trace the amounts of protein and sugar in them. Blood tests would also be recommended for testing of anaemia and also to detect the possible occurrence of pre-eclampsia.
- Routine measurements – Some bodily measurements like weight, blood pressure, fundal height – whichever is applicable for mother and/or baby – are taken and recorded at regular intervals.
- Non-stress test – This test is recommended for women carrying multiples or who have high blood pressure or diabetes. A foetal monitor is used to listen to the babies’ heart rates when they move to get more information about contractions.
- Ultrasound scans – For women with one baby, the number of ultrasounds is generally limited to two or three. But mothers who are carrying twins may need to undergo ultrasound more often, right up until delivery to see the position and growth of the twins.
Non-stress tests used along with ultrasound is used by doctors to test for the babies’ breathing patterns, body movements, muscle tone, and amount of amniotic fluid. This is called the biophysical profile.
- Pelvic examination – During the last few weeks, changes in the mother’s cervix are closely monitored to check for possible signs of labour. The cervix undergoes the process of ripening whereby they soften, thin out, and opens out readying itself for delivery. These changes occur over different time periods in a different woman and are often a sign of how near or far the delivery is.
- Amniocentesis – Although this test is done in the second trimester, doctors may recommend this in the third trimester too if they believe the mother is at risk of premature delivery or if the baby is suspected of carrying anaemia. Foetal anaemia occurs more in women who are Rh negative.
- Group B streptococcus screening – This test done around the last stages of pregnancy to detect the group B step bacteria, somewhere around the 35th and 37th Samples are collected from the mother’s vaginal area or rectal area; if bacteria are detected then antibiotics are administered.
This test is important because streptococcus can cause life-threatening disorders like mental retardation, impaired vision, and hearing loss.
These are just some of the major generic tests every mother is expected to undergo. Doctors may suggest or prescribe more detailed tests on a case-to-case basis depending on other consideration.