Pinky Ronen, M.D.
Amniocentesis is a procedure that takes a small amount of amniotic fluid out of a pregnant woman’s belly. Amniotic fluid is the liquid that surrounds the fetus inside the mother’s uterus (womb).
Amniocentesis is done to get a sample of amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is tested to get more information about the health of the fetus.
The two most common reasons amniotic fluid is tested are to find out if the fetus:
Has a genetic problem, such as Down syndrome. This might be done if another test, such as an ultrasound or blood test on the mother, has shown that something might be wrong with the fetus.
Will be able to breathe on its own if it is born before the due date
The test can be done any time after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The timing depends on why the amniotic fluid is being tested.
How is amniocentesis done? — Here are the main steps:
A doctor will do an ultrasound so he or she can see moving pictures of your uterus, your fetus, and the amniotic fluid on a screen (like a TV).
This doctor or another doctor will watch the screen as he or she inserts a needle into your belly and then into the amniotic fluid .
The doctor will use the needle to take out a small amount of fluid. The test usually takes about 1 to 2 tablespoons of fluid.
The fluid will be sent to a lab for tests.
Yes. Problems are rare, but they can happen. Risks include:
That depends on what symptoms you have and how bad they are. After amniocentesis, it is normal to have mild cramps in your belly for a short time.
Call your doctor if:
You should talk to a genetic counselor before and after the test. He or she can help you understand your feelings and decide what to do