Amniocentesis is a prenatal test used to detect genetic abnormalities in a developing baby by withdrawing a small amount of amniotic fluid from the mother’s womb.
If you are pregnant, one of the things you will likely have to decide is whether or not to have an amniocentesis. This is a procedure that can tell you a lot about your baby’s health.
It is important to understand what amniocentesis is and what it can tell you before deciding whether or not to have it. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of amniocentesis and what you need to know before deciding if it is right for you.
What is amniocentesis?
Amniocentesis is a prenatal test used to detect genetic abnormalities in a developing baby. It involves inserting a needle into the mother’s womb and withdrawing a small amount of amniotic fluid, which contains the baby’s DNA.
Amniotic fluid is a fluid surrounding and protecting a fetus during pregnancy. This fluid contains fetal cells as well as proteins.
The test is usually performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, between 15 and 20 weeks gestation. It is considered a relatively safe procedure, but there are some risks involved. The most common complication is premature labor.
Amniocentesis can be an important tool in helping parents make informed decisions about their pregnancy. If you are considering the test, be sure to talk to your doctor about all of the risks and benefits.
Why is amniocentesis performed?
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend an amniocentesis.
- If you or your partner is a carrier of a genetic disorder, such as cystic fibrosis.
- To determine whether the baby has certain birth defects, such as Down syndrome.
- To check on the baby’s health if the mother has a medical condition, such as diabetes.
- Chromosomal abnormalities such as trisomy 18.
- The presence of certain infections, such as rubella.
- To determine if a baby’s lungs are mature enough for birth by testing the maturity of the fetus’s lungs.
- Fetal Infections and other diseases.
- Genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis.
- Metabolic disorders such as phenylketonuria (PKU).
- For treating polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid).
- To determine the sex of the fetus.
What can I expect during an amniocentesis?
During the procedure, you will lie on your back on an exam table. Your abdomen will be cleansed with a cleaning solution. A local anesthetic will be injected into your lower back to numb the area.
A long, thin needle will be inserted through your abdomen and uterus into the amniotic sac using ultrasound guidance. A small amount of amniotic fluid is removed and sent for laboratory analysis.
The procedure usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. You may experience some cramping during the procedure.
What can I expect after amniocentesis?
After the procedure, you will be monitored for any signs of bleeding or infection. You will be able to go home after a short period of observation.
You should take a good amount of rest and avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for 24 hours after the procedure. You may also be asked to avoid sexual intercourse for a week or two. You should be able to return to your normal activities within a day or two.
If you experience symptoms like leaking amniotic fluid through the vagina, vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal cramps, decreased fetal movements, pain, fever, chills, and redness or swelling in the area where the needle was inserted, call your doctor.
What do the results of the amniocentesis mean?
The results of the amniocentesis will be available in about two to three weeks.
A positive result means that the fetus has the disorder or birth defect that it was tested for. A negative result means that the fetus does not have the disorder or birth defect.
If you have a positive result, you and your partner will need to decide what to do next. You may choose to terminate the pregnancy or continue the pregnancy and prepare for the birth of a child with special needs. If you have a negative result, you can be reassured that your baby does not have the disorder or birth defect.
You may also choose to have genetic counseling to learn more about the risks of having a child with a genetic disorder.
No matter what the results are, it is important to remember that they do not predict how your child will look, behave, or feel.
A positive result does not mean that your child will have the disorder or birth defect. A negative result does not mean that your child will never have the disorder or birth defect.
The results of the amniocentesis are just one piece of information that you can use to make decisions about your pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns about amniocentesis, talk to your doctor.
Risks of amniocentesis
As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with amniocentesis.
- The risks of amniocentesis include:
- Preterm labor
- Puncture of the baby or placenta
- Infection transmission
- Miscarriage (less than one percent): The risk of miscarriage associated with second-trimester amniocentesis is low compared to the first trimester. The chance of a successful pregnancy is about 99 percent.
- Leaking amniotic fluid: Occasionally, a tiny amount of amniotic fluid may leak through the vagina as a result of amniocentesis. This is not a problem in most cases, but if you experience excessive leaking or watery discharge after the procedure, contact your doctor.
If you’re considering amniocentesis, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. Amniocentesis is generally considered safe to know the fetal well-being.