Should I have an amnio?

Justine Davies
Justine Davies 

This is my situation: I’m 36, a little bit overweight (but not too bad) and I’m pregnant with our first baby – very exciting! We have been trying for three years so it’s wonderful to finally be pregnant!! I have had my first scan and it was fine – the baby is in the right place, I could see it moving around.

But I had a dream the other night that my baby had Down syndrome – I woke up in a panic, which I just can’t seem to shake. I know that it’s silly and I should say that I’m not a “psychic” sort of person but I now just have this niggling feeling that “what if” it was a premonition and something isn’t right?

None of my test results or personal situation indicates that I should have any problems. I’m under 37, my ultrasound was fine, with a risk factor that was about right for my age and there’s no family history (that I know of) with regards to any genetic problems. So – I should be fine! Why can’t a get rid of this niggling feeling??

I’m wondering whether I should have an amniocentesis “just to be sure” or whether that is just totally overreacting? Maybe it’s just a normal first-time-mother panic? After all, I don’t want to risk a miscarriage.

Have any other mums-to-be out there been in a similar situation?


Hi Bella,

First off – you are the only one who can decide whether or not to have an amnio. The benefit would be 100% certainty with regards to Down syndrome – the cost is the risk of miscarriage.

It’s impossible to say whether it’s a premonition or simply nerves. I can remember when I was pregnant with my third child being absolutely terrified that something was wrong (nothing was). To a certain extent it is perhaps a natural fear – something that other readers may be able to expand upon.

To help you with some general information, I have interviewed Dr Victor Hurley, from Melbourne Ultrasound for Women. Dr Hurley is an Obstetrician Gynaecologist. He is also currently appointed at the Mercy Hospital for Women where he has been practising since 1986. This is what he has to say:

“Amniocentesis is a test that is done to rule out some genetic abnormalities, and the most common reason that we do it is for women who want to rule out the possibility of Down syndrome,” he says. “Generally we would perform it after they have had a combined screening assessment (blood rest and ultrasound) done at 12 weeks.”

“Normally if their risk comes back as 1 in 300 or less, they may consider having an amniocentesis. Alternatively, if they had an ultrasound at some point and an abnormality was detected, or if there was a past history, they may request an amnio.”

Bella, Dr Hurley explains that it is ultimately a balance that the parents have to strike, deciding between the risk of an abnormality and the risk of miscarriage after having an amnio. “Generally the risk of miscarriage is accepted to be a around one in two hundred,” he says. “So at the end of the day it is an informed decision that parents have to make.”

And it is very much an informed choice in this day and age. “Many years ago an amnio could only be offered if there were definite risk factors there,” says Dr Hurley. “Nowadays though it is accessible for parents if they want it, as the only way of having a definite “yes” or “no” answer in relation to Down syndrome. And in many ways these are amongst the most difficult decisions that parents-to-be have to make – to make sense of all the risk factors and to decide what (if any) further tests they want to undertake.”

Did you have an amnio when you were pregnant? Comment on Justine's blog.

At the end of the day it is an informed decision that parents have to make.