Amniocentesis is a procedure in which the physician, with the assistance of a nurse, inserts a very thin needle through the mother’s abdomen into the fluid surrounding the baby to withdraw a small amount of fluid, which is then sent to a lab for testing. Amniocentesis can determine whether or not the baby’s lungs are mature, and it can detect Down’s syndrome, neural tube defects, and a number of genetic and chromosomal disorders. Amniocentesis can also confirm the sex of your baby.
Complications from amniocentesis are possible, so you should discuss the risks with your physician at the FAC.
Fetal Heart Rate/Well-Being Tests
Two types of tests may be used to evaluate the well-being of the fetus (the baby before it is born):
- Non-stress test – a procedure that measures changes in the fetal heart rate to determine whether the baby is getting enough oxygen in the uterus (womb). With the patient in a reclining position, the clinician places two monitors on the mother’s abdomen. One monitors the baby’s heart rate, while the other monitors contractions of the uterus. This painless test takes from 20 minutes to an hour. Results are available immediately.
- Biophysical profile – a test that uses real-time ultrasound to evaluate fetal movement, fetal breathing, and amniotic fluid. The non-stress test is also part of the biophysical profile.
If either the non-stress test alone or the biophysical profile is abnormal, your physician will recommend further tests or suggest that the baby be delivered ahead of schedule to improve the chances of a successful outcome to the pregnancy.