What is Amniocentesis?
Amniocentesis is a medical procedure where a small amount of fluid, which contains fetal tissue, is extracted from the amniotic sac that surrounds the developing baby. The DNA from the fetal tissue is then examined for any genetic abnormalities. This is usually performed between 15-20 weeks pregnant.
With the assistance of an ultrasound, the physician will go towards an area of the sac that is away from the baby. A long needle is inserted into the mother's abdomen, through the wall of the uterus and then into the amniotic sac.
After the amniotic fluid is extracted, the chromosomes from the fetal tissue is examined for abnormalities. This may be used to detect a large number of genetic and chromosomal abnormalities. The most common tests are for: Down's syndrome, Trisomy 18 and spina bifida.
Amniocentesis is usually performed no earlier than 14 weeks pregnant. This will also give 100% accuracy on the sex of your baby. There is a small chance of miscarriage, infection or even injury to the developing baby. All of this should be discussed with your health care provider.
It takes about 2 weeks to perform a chromosome analysis. This will give you and your health care provider a better look at the health of your baby.
It's recommended that women over the age of 35 be tested for fetal abnormalities. Although I just came across an ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) News Release that stated:
New Recommendations for Down Syndrome:
Screening Should Be Offered to All Pregnant Women
Washington, DC - All pregnant women, regardless of their age, should be offered screening for Down syndrome, according to a new Practice Bulletin issued today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Previously, women were automatically offered genetic counseling and diagnostic testing for Down syndrome by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) if they were 35 years and older.
To read more of this article, please visit ACOG.
I had an amniocentesis done when I was pregnant with my first son. I was only 19 years old at the time. I didn't know what to think or expect.
They said that my AFP blood test came back low. When we went in we spoke with a genetic counselor. I couldn't stop crying. They didn't say anything was wrong, this was just the procedure to check for any defects. Of course I thought the worst and prayed for the best.
I couldn't even look at the needle I was so scared. My husband just held my hand and he said the needle was so long! I remember it hurting so bad, my stomach cramped up and I just remember them telling me, we're almost done just keep breathing.
The 2 week wait was the longest and worst 2 weeks of my life...to this day. The nurse called me with my results, she said she knew how upset and worried I was so she wanted to give me my results over the phone. She said, "Your going to have a healthy baby boy". I was so happy, all I could do was cry...tears of joy this time!
Testing Women, Testing the Fetus : The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America (The Anthropology of Everyday Life) (The Anthropology of Everydaylife)
The Tentative Pregnancy: How Amniocentesis Changes the Experience of Motherhood