Pregnancy and the Amniocentesis Procedure

During pregnancy, a water-like structure which is commonly known as the amniotic fluid surrounds your baby. The amniotic fluid is a clear, pale yellow fluid that develops as your fetus grows. It helps regulate your baby’s temperature of the fetus as well as protect it from injury. Additionally, the amniotic fluid contains substances such as live fetal cells. Such substances can be used to provide more information about the health of your baby before birth through a process called amniocentesis.

So, What is Amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is the process through which a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby during pregnancy is obtained for testing. The sample is obtained by inserting a fine needle into the uterus under the guidance of ultrasound. The fluid obtained contains some baby cells and can be used to tell whether the baby has any genetic problems. It is also used to identify other issues such as chromosomal abnormalities.

Amniocentesis is mainly done in late pregnancy to confirm the well-being of the fetus as well as diagnose some conditions such as infections. In Kenya, this process became possible only as late as 2016. Other specific substances found in the amniotic fluid may be tested in the lab to check for fetal lung maturity as well as determine whether the baby could be delivered early.

What Happens During Amniocentesis?

After the amniotic fluid has been obtained, it is taken to the genetic lab where the cells can grow and later be analyzed. The time within which the results are ready is determined by the nature of the test. However, most results are available within ten to fourteen days. Other results such as fetal lung maturity test could be ready within a few hours.

Reasons to Have an Amniocentesis

More often than not, amniocentesis is offered to women who are above 35 years by the time they deliver. However, it is also recommended for those who may have an abnormal maternal serum as this could be an indication of some chromosomal abnormalities. Other reasons why one should go for amniocentesis are such as:

  • A family history of children with chromosomal disorders and genetic diseases
  • Risk of sex-linked genetic diseases
  • Risk of open neural tube defects
  • Paternity test

When in the third trimester of pregnancy, one may require amniocentesis due to

  •         Uterine infection
  •         Rh diseases
  •         Fetal lung maturity if there is a chance of premature birth

After having the amniocentesis, you are advised to take rest and avoid strenuous activities for at least 24 hours. Additionally, ensure that you inform your doctor in case you realize some abnormal signs such as bleeding, pain, or change in the activity level of the fetus. The doctor will advise you on the best solution depending on your situation.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2018

Sources: easydnakenya, standardmedia, webmd, stanfordchildrens, pregnancybirthbaby, mayoclinic, hopkinsmedicine

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