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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Exercise, Good Food, And Prenatal Care Are the Keys

By Rebecca D. Williams

Home Pregnancy Tests

Think you might be pregnant? A home pregnancy test is simple to do and can give you an accurate answer in 2 to 5 minutes.

Improved technology has made the urine home pregnancy test about as accurate as blood tests--99 percent under perfect conditions--although in actual use it may be less than that.

Using a woman's urine, a home pregnancy test detects the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced only during pregnancy. The tests contain monoclonal antibodies, which are molecules coated with a substance that bonds to the pregnancy hormone. If the hormone is present, a colored stripe, dot, or other symbol appears in the test windows. The tests also contain "control" windows to indicate whether the device has functioned properly.

Although the makers of today's tests say their products can detect hCG as soon as the very day a missed period was supposed to begin, they also advise taking the test again a few days later to confirm the result. If the result is positive, see a doctor as soon as possible.


Testing for Birth Defects

Many women undergo tests during pregnancy to check for birth defects, genetic disorders, and other problems. A few of the most common tests are ultrasound scans, the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test, amniocentesis, and chorionic villi sampling (CVS). Each of these can be helpful in diagnosing problems, but the tests are not necessary for every pregnancy. Check with your doctor about what tests, if any, are appropriate for you.

Ultrasound--Ultrasound technology uses high-frequency sound waves to form pictures of the fetus on a computer screen. The test can verify a due date, determine causes of bleeding, check the overall health, development, sex and position of the baby, measure the amniotic fluid, and check the condition of the placenta. There are no known risks from the tests, and many women have one or two ultrasounds in routine pregnancies. However, there is little scientific evidence that normal pregnancies benefit from ultrasound tests.

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