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Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I think I'm going to go through with the amniocentesis. What exactly happens during the procedure? Will it hurt?

Re: I think I'm going to go through with the amniocentesis. What exactly happens during the procedure? Will it hurt?

The Bump Expert

Whether or not to amnio is a tough decision, and while it's hard to know the"right" thing to do, getting as much info as possible will at least help make your choice an educated one. In other words… good question.

You'll go in for the amnio somewhere between weeks 15 and 20. First, your doc will do an ultrasound to locate a pocket of amniotic fluid a safe distance away from both baby and the placenta, which can take up to 20 minutes. Your belly will be cleaned with iodine or alcohol, and your doc will then guide along, thin hollow needle into your stomach, through the abdominal wall and into the fluid sac. About an ounce of amniotic fluid (roughly two tablespoons) will be drawn into the needle, which can take from 30 seconds to a few minutes.(Don't worry, baby will produce more to make up for what's taken.) It may seem scary to have a needle so close to baby, but with ultrasound guiding the entire procedure direct injury is very rare. (On the off chance baby does brush against the needle, he'll simply move away quickly -- same thing you'd do after hitting something sharp.) Once enough fluid is obtained, the needle will be removed, and you're all done! Your doc might check baby's heart rate with an external fetal monitor to make sure he's doing okay. If your blood is Rh negative, you'll receive a shot of immunoglobulin after (unless baby's father is also negative), in case your blood mixed with baby's potentially non-compatible blood during the test.

The extracted amniotic fluid will be sent to a lab, where baby's cells are taken from the fluid, grown in a culture for about ten days, and then studied for chromosomal abnormalities. The cells can also be tested for any genetic disorders you may be at risk for. And, the alpha-feto protein levels in the amniotic fluid will be measured, which is helpful in detecting neural tube defects. Structural defects like a cleft palate can't be detected with this procedure, but if you're interested, baby's gender can. You should get the results back in about two weeks.

For you, the procedure might be somewhat uncomfortable, though some women don't feel a thing – pain levels vary greatly between women, and even between pregnancies. It'll probably feel like cramping, pinching or pressure. You may be offered a local anesthetic first to numb the site, but the anesthesia injection might actually be worse than the amnio itself! Make sure someone is available to drive you home afterwards, because you'll need to take it easy for the rest of the day, and avoid sex, heavy lifting and flying for the next three days. You might experience minor cramping, but if they become severe, notice leaking amniotic fluid or spotting, or develop a fever (possible sign of an infection), call your doctor right away -- these are all signs of potential miscarriage.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

Paula Kashtan

re: Q: What to Expect in Amnio?

I just had amnio last week. It was more uncomfortable than painful. The procedure itself only lasted about 10 minutes (if that long) mainly because I didn't have a lot of fluid. The most uncomfortable thing was the pressure, but once it was over, there was no pain or discomfort at all. I had no cramping or bleeding afterwards, but I was very, very tired. Definitely make sure whoever is doing the procedure is experienced. Plan on taking the rest of the day and probably part of the next off work.

CLB111106 |

re: Q: What to Expect in Amnio?

I had one a few weeks ago. It was very unpleasant, but not really painful. The prep took longer than the actual procedure. It felt like it took about 2 or 3 minutes to take all of the fluid, but it is hard to judge the actual time. I just wanted it to be over! I felt a strange sensation in the area where the needle went in for about an hour afterwards. I just rested for a few days and there weren't any complications.

Annofbev |

re: Q: What to expect in amnio?

I had one a few days ago. The Dr. was moving the needle all around for about 10 minutes but could not get any fluid. He said the needle kept pushing the membrane away. It was very painful. Now I have to go any attempt it again in a week. If it doesnt work I will not be trying a 3rd time. I will just spend the rest of my pregnancy worrying about my baby without any answers. Repeat amnios are one thing that no one ever tells you about and they are more common than people realize.

Vegas7/7/07 |

re: Q: What to expect in amnio?

A close friend's relative lost her baby due to a mistake the Dr. made doing her amnio. I don't see any good reason to take that risk, and it bothers me that amnio is on the "Pregnancy Checklist" and there is no way to edit it off except to mark it "done." I would prefer to be able to edit my checklist to reflect the choices that I've made for my prenatal care!

gnatty_girl |

re: Q: What to expect in amnio?

I recently had an amnio and never thought that at my age (28) that i would have. The doctor saw some down syndrome "indicators" and my husband and I decided that it would be nice to just have some peace of mind about the whole thing so we would know what to expect. The doctor was wonderful. The needle was inside for about 15 seconds and didn't feel any different than getting a shot or having blood drawn or even an IV (which i think hurts worse than the amnio.) I stayed on the couch for the next 48 hours being catered to and pampered by my husband and family members. :) I experienced some cramping and a really intense headache, but other than that I felt fine. My midwife gave me the results about a week after and everything came out fine. The mental anguish you go through thinking about "what if something is wrong with my baby" is MUCH worse than the momentary discomfort you feel from the the amnio.

sosat01 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I just had an amnio 2 days ago. I never thought that I would need one (I am only 21) and I was so freaked out!!! It was not as bad as some make it out to be. If you can handle a regular shot and a little bit of pressure for a few minutes you will totally be fine. I am the biggest baby! ha I do not deal well with pain at all! So anyone that is a little scared of the pain, don't worry it is not bad at all! But my Dr. did a FISH test? I guess you get the results back sooner. It only took 24 hours and then they called me, and everything was fine! I have been a nervous wreck so I am so happy and excited!!!

mollywilliams07 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I refused an amnio. No matter what the results may have been, I know that I will still give birth to a happy, healthy baby. I have no regrets refusing the test, and I don't even think about the what ifs. To me, the risks out weigh the benefits. A few friends thought I was crazy, but I don't care. I am so attached to this baby at 16 weeks, it wouldn't matter.

NicksBeautifulBride |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I just went thru one, and it was surprisingly simple! As others have posted, the prep is longer than the procedure. The U/S tech wil keep a spot on the screen, and the DR will insert a very thin needle into the abdomen, and watch it via the screen. About 2 min later, he's all done! They took 3 large viles. I felt fine afterwards, and went out to lunch with Hubby, and did take the remainder of the afternoon off of work. But, no fever, headache, or cramps. I am still waiting for the results. This waiting is WORSE than the procedure!!

kellyfox31 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

i have had an amnio before- I will never do it again. I was the (1%) they quoted who lost the baby after the procedure- I was 20 weeks along. I contracted an infection with the amnio and it resulted in the loss of our baby boy. Fortunately, though we now are pregnant again- and i refuse to get an amnio no matter what is recommended. If the baby is meant to be born with defects, then that is god's will. I won't love my baby any less. Just do your homework, and know that when you sign on the dotted line- there is a reason. ♥

parksgems |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I had mine four weeks ago and it was so much easier than I expected. I anticipated having a 12" needle inserted in my abdomen and being COMPLETELY uncomfortable. It was just the opposite. The ultrasound tech monitored the baby and took measurements, then the doctor prepped the area for the insertion of the needle. It's a smaller gague needle than is used to draw blood from your arm. It was slightly uncomfortable and I went home to rest for the remainder of the day. I consented to the test so that in case the baby had Down's or genetic problems that DH and I would be prepared for them instead of finding out at the birth. The risk of problems was quoted at 1%, half that of the CVS procedure. Only you can decide what is best for you.

BoxerMomma24 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I really am surprised at how many people get the test simply because their doctor orders one. IF you intend to carry full term, no matter what the outcome, why risk it? UNLESS other tests/results show a real need for one, understand that it is not necessary. We've had four children with three different doctors. I never got the test done and only one of the doctors suggested it (simply an option) and that was because of my age (late 30's). With so many other things that can go wrong, why add a "1-1000" chance of having something else go wrong (like a miscarriage).

lilmac25 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

Home resting now after amnio this morning. It began with a detailed ultrasound and a pleasant surprise of learning we're having a girl! After the ultrasound, the doctor came in - he was probably only in the room ten minutes, and the procedure took about two minutes. They clean and sterilize your belly, but I didn't have to get undressed, just stayed on the ultrasound table. The needle is pretty tiny but long, and they filled up two of those plastic tube-shaped vials like they use for blood draws. I had contractions during the procedure and it was very painful, but just as I was really thinking the pain was overwhelming, it was suddenly over. Afterward, more cramping and mild contractions - they say to "take it easy" for 24 hours, but my body is telling me to seriously rest, and after the difficult decision to do this invasive test, I'm going to listen to it! By the way, this morning I had the opportunity to participate in a research study that's trying to isolate baby DNA from mother's blood - if it's successful, it would be a completely risk-free alternative to amniocentesis. I couldn't sign up fast enough!

zirconia |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I've had an amnio before and it went super smooth. I'm going to have one Monday and hoping for the same experience if not better. I'm seeing a different specialist. I look forward to the opportunity during the procedure to see my baby and hopefully determine the sex. I definitely want to know the sex.

ARIES326 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I had mine today - it was no biggie at all. First they did an ultrasound and checked the heartbeat, then prepped the area with iodine. Then I felt the needle stick (nothing terrible - they use a fine needle, not some big honking thing like I always imagined). The doctor drew two vials of fluid and told me it was clear (which is good), then I was done. The needle was in my abdomen for maybe 2 minutes, tops, and I think my entire visit took 20 minutes from when I sat down to when I walked out,. I went to an older, extremely experienced doctor who's chief of OB-GYN at a highly respected university hospital in DC, and I would really recommend you get the best doctor you can get. You don't want someone without tons of experience doing it. My doctor's skill was really evident in the ease and quickness of the procedure. You and your baby deserve the best! :)

st1023 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

My amnio was more creepy than anything, but not terribly painful at all. My doctor was very experienced (I was very finicky about this) and my husband was there to hold my hand. It's weird having a needle go into your belly, but it doesn't last long. I agree that the hardest part is waiting for the results. Our genetic counselor recommended an additional screen through Precision Panel. It wound up costing us a bit more money (over a hundred with insurance) but we got our results back in TWO DAYS! I guess it looks at specific areas of the DNA for problems, and then our traditional amnio results confirmed everything and a good overall picture two weeks later. If Precision Panel is offered at your hospital or in your area you might want to look into it, but find out what the price is for you because it can be steep. I wasn't able to really embrace my pregnancy until we had a clear picture of everything, and I was really glad to have results back so quickly so I was happy to pay whatever. Good luck everyone!!

anne73 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I had an amnio done with my first pregnancy and I have to say, the stress of not knowing if my baby was okay or not was way worse than the amnio. The amnio itself did not hurt at all for me. It was no different than getting blood taken. Just don't look at them doing it and keep your eye on the monitor looking at your baby. I also took my Mom for moral support. I wish doctors didn't scare us so much with tests. My baby by the way is a totally happy and healthy two year old. This time around I decided to go with the Harmony test instead of going with the first trimester screening blood test. It is just a blood test offerred at 10 weeks and up and can tell you with 99% accuracy if they see any issues. This kept me from stressing the first screening test and having to go through the stress of the amnio results. It just came out. I got it at a perinatologist. They were actually the hospital that helped with the trials of this test. I'd take it at 12 weeks since they did not have enough dna in my blood when they took it at 10 weeks. BUT, it came back and I didn't put myself through the stress of all the other tests. If you get an amnio, in my experience, it does not hurt and the results are 100%. I would recommend getting the fish test though as you get the results in 24 to 48 hours and then you can wait for the final results two weeks later. Just my thoughts...

kdeases |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

i had an amnio last week. i don't usually post online, but i noticed a lack of response when it came to women who had an amnio and had a contraction during it. the experience was fine. the dr was good and the nurse kept telling me it would be a breeze. i wasn't excited to do it, but we had a marker so i decided it would put my husband and i at ease. i started immediately having the most mind blowing contractions as soon as the needle was in and it was shockingly painful. my whole body shook for the next 45-60 minutes. i think if i had been given a little warning i may have handled it better, but i was under the impression it wold feel like "giving blood". everything wound up being fine with the baby and myself. the next day i was in bed the whole day and was in pain for the next 72 hours, but i suspect the prolonged pain was from my abdominal muscle/contractions not loving the needle.

Bananabunch |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I had one done at the age of 24 with my first and it was simple and painless. I chose to have it done because I am adopted and have no idea what my family history is like. My results came back perfect and my son came out perfectly healthy. I am now pregnant with baby #2 and scheduled my amnio for next wee, even though my son came out healthy and my first ultrasound looked great, I'd rather have as much knowledge as possible for this baby.

JSStarz |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

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REALHWATL |

what-to-expect-during-an-amnio

I was offered one since a blood test came back saying my child had a 1 in 208 chance of having down syndrome. I did go in for a more detailed ultrasound where they looked for markers. She had no markers at all which meant that her risk of down syndrome went down to 1 in 400. Which was no longer "high risk". There IS a chance of miscarriage if you have an amnio done!! In my opinion it is NOT worth that risk!

kendra223 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

If you're scared, please read my blog. Last month I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy that was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The blog, called the upside, is my story. It is my family's journey in finding the beauty in the unexpected. I promise it will be okay, Down Syndrome is not something to be scared of, it is an amazing joy. www.kelseymango.blogspot.com

kknise1 |

Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I found the amniocentesis to be extremely painful. It took 2-3 minutes to extract 35 cc of fluid. During that time, the needle shifted a few times; each time was excruciating. I found it to be more painful than spraining an ankle, and about the same as IUD insertion. Far more painful than having a blood test or an IV. I recommend bringing someone along whose hand you can squeeze!

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