Antenatal Screening

Having further tests and waiting for results

People find having further tests and waiting to find out whether their baby is all right an anxious and emotional time. In the case of CVS and amniocentesis, parents have the additional worry that they may miscarry the baby as a result of the procedure. (See also Deciding whether to have further diagnostic tests for more about these procedures).

Some people found it helpful to go back to work while they waited for results, but others took time off. People are usually advised to rest for at least a day after the test.

In addition to these understandable anxieties, people are nervous about whether the procedure will hurt, and concerned to keep as still as possible so the needle does not touch the baby accidentally. People's experiences of pain were very varied. Some people were surprised it did not hurt as they expected.

Having a very empathetic doctor helped one couple having CVS, and they felt it was a positive example of good bedside manner for the medical students present. Amniocentesis made one woman jump at one point but she did not find it painful.

Trying to relax helped a woman having amniocentesis in her next pregnancy, after a termination in the previous pregnancy. She and others were glad they had a local anaesthetic, although some people said it made little difference. Some were advised to take paracetamol before they arrived.

Relaxing is easier said than done when you are already very anxious, as one woman pointed out who found CVS painful. Her husband found it very difficult to watch.

Descriptions of strong pressure and a piercing or stabbing sensation were common. Again, clear explanation of what is happening and kind and caring attention from staff can help people get through the pain and anxiety.

Despite the pain, many people wanted to emphasise that they were glad they had the test and it was worth it to get a definite diagnosis.

Having further scans to investigate possible conditions does not carry any risk of miscarriage, but brings its own form of stress. As with other scans, some people felt tense and anxious waiting for news while the sonographer was concentrating on the scan.

One couple whose baby had a serious chromosomal condition (Patau's syndrome) felt it was best for the doctor to wait till the end and explain the multiple problems he had identified, and pointed out that such news will always be upsetting.

Many people commented that it was a relief to be in a specialist department with expert staff, despite the seriousness of the situation.

An additional problem with scans is that they may clearly find something unusual, but may not be able to pin down exactly what it is or how serious it is. Some people had to have several scans, and found this very stressful and tiring.

Last reviewed June 2014.

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