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Prenatal Urine Testing: Why Do You Need It?

Pregnancy requires you to take good care of your health and your baby’s. This includes eating healthy, sleeping well, and having regular checkups. During these checkups, your healthcare provider may ask you to undergo routine tests like prenatal urine testing to check how your body is coping with the pregnancy and see if your baby is doing well, too. 

In prenatal urine testing, your healthcare provider will ask for a urine sample to see if you have any conditions that require treatment, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and urinary tract infections. In some cases, your doctor may continue to ask for a urine sample at each visit or once a trimester. However, you may not need to be tested other times unless you show symptoms that warrant a urine test.

However, symptoms of substance abuse are a different matter. Under a United States Supreme Court ruling, medical practitioners cannot test pregnant women for using illicit substances without consent or a valid warrant. Even if doctors have good intentions for your baby’s health, you are protected by this law. It is possible that they are just concerned and want to help. Keep in mind that doctors need to ask for your consent before proceeding with any laboratory tests, so it’s important to understand why you need these prenatal tests. However, suppose you need help and want to ensure the safety of your pregnancy. In that case, you can ask them to refer you to a nearby treatment facility or the best Dallas drug rehab center that can treat pregnant women struggling with substance use disorder. 

How Is Prenatal Urine Testing Done?

Urine testing is a straightforward procedure. First, a medical practitioner gives you a specimen cup and antiseptic wipe. You then proceed to the restroom to collect a urine sample. For best results, practitioners advise the following:

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  • Increase your water intake before taking a urine test.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after collection.
  • Make sure to cleanly wipe the labia from front to back.
  • As you are urinating, collect the sample midstream with the specimen cup.
  • Fill the cup with about one to two ounces of urine or up to the mark indicated by the medical practitioner.
  • Once done, place the cover over the cup and deliver it to the medical practitioner.

What Urine Tests Detect?

A medical practitioner will either insert a dipstick into the urine sample or place a few drops of urine on testing strips to check if glucose, bacteria, or protein is present. The dipstick or testing strips will change in color to indicate a positive test.

Bacteria and Blood Cells

When your urine has bacteria, this may signify a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is common among pregnant women since increased muscle-relaxing pregnancy hormones let more bacteria enter your urethra. An overgrowth of bacteria in the urethra or bladder means you have UTI. If this is the case, your doctor will prescribe pregnancy-safe antibiotics. However, bacteria in the kidney may indicate a kidney infection and may require you to stay at the hospital to receive a round of IV antibiotics.

In some instances, your doctor may also check your urine for the presence of red and white blood cells. Their presence in your urine confirms that you have UTI. Your doctor will send your urine sample to a lab for further tests.


The presence of glucose or sugar in your urine is not a cause for alarm in itself. Many pregnant women test positive for glucose, especially during the second trimester. Your body will continue to adjust your insulin levels during pregnancy to support your baby. However, a continuous increase in sugar may indicate that you have gestational diabetes. To confirm this, your doctor may advise you to do a glucose screening test. The test can also be done as early as your first prenatal visit if you have risk factors for gestational diabetes, including:

Glucose testing
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  • Being over the age of 35
  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history of diabetes 
  • Having experienced gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy


Protein in your urine may be a sign of preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. A proper diagnosis can only be done when your pregnancy is beyond 20 weeks. Symptoms like elevated high blood pressure and having 0.3 grams or more of protein in urine collected for 24 hours may indicate preeclampsia. In addition, your doctor may also measure your liver enzyme levels and blood platelet count. Once your doctor confirms you have preeclampsia, they will help you manage your condition through changes in your diet and a tally of your baby’s daily kicks.

One way to ensure you and your baby are healthy is through regular checkups. Your doctor may request laboratory tests to diagnose any prenatal condition. Allow them to explain the results with you and what the numbers could indicate about your baby’s health. It can feel tedious to undergo so many tests, but regular screening allows for any problems to be detected and treated immediately. 

Featured Photo by Amina Filkins from Pexels