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What you should know
An amniocentesis is a procedure to take a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby in the uterus. The fluid is sent to the lab for tests. This procedure is used to look for problems with your baby's brain or spinal cord, or neural tube defects. A neural tube defect is when the baby's spinal cord or skull does not completely close. An amniocentesis can also show how much your baby's lungs have developed.
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There are risks with having an amniocentesis. You may get an infection or go into early labor. If the labor cannot be stopped, you could deliver the baby early and your baby could die. The needle could hurt you or your baby during the amnio. Caregivers will closely watch you and your baby during the amnio. If you do not have the amnio, you will not know if there are problems with your baby. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your amnio.
What Will Happen:
- You may be asked to change into a hospital gown. To begin, caregivers may touch your abdomen to feel the position of your baby. An ultrasound will be done to see your baby's position, locate your placenta, and guide the needle.
- Your caregiver will clean your abdomen with special soap and water. The soap may make your skin yellow, but it will be cleaned off later. Caregivers will put a shot of medicine into the skin of your abdomen. This medicine will dull your pain before the needle is put into your skin. A needle will be put through the skin into your abdomen and uterus. Amniotic fluid will be removed and sent to the lab. The needle will be taken out and a bandage put on the needle site. The procedure may take 15 to 30 minutes.
After the Amniocentesis:
You will be able to go home or will be taken back to your room. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK. If you are 15 to 18 weeks pregnant, caregivers may ask you to rest all day after the amnio. If you have an amnio later in your pregnancy, caregivers may put a special instrument (belt) on your belly. The instrument looks for contractions, and makes sure you and your baby are OK after the amnio. Ask your caregiver about activity guidelines after an amniocentesis. The small bandage on your abdomen keeps the area clean and dry to prevent infection.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your appointment on time.
- You have questions or concerns about your amniocentesis.
- You have a fever.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.