Screening is an important part of the care you will receive from private pregnancy services. Most women will have blood tests and ultrasound scans as part of the screening process, but sometimes additional tests will be performed too. Your antenatal care team will help you to decide whether these kinds of tests are right for you.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Chorionic villus sampling or CVS can be conducted after 11 weeks to take a sample of the placenta. The sample will be collected using a thin needle that is passed through your abdomen, but you will be given a local anaesthetic so that you can’t feel anything. The cells of the placenta are genetically identical to your baby, so they can be tested to check for any chromosomal abnormalities or conditions such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.
An amniocentesis is also conducted by taking a sample with a fine needle, but the sample is taken from the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby rather than from the placenta cells. The amniotic fluid can still provide information about certain kinds of abnormalities because it contains some cells from your baby. It can be tested for various conditions, including Down’s syndrome, spina bifida and sickle cell anaemia. If you decide to have an amniocentesis, it will usually be carried out by private pregnancy services at 15 to 20 weeks, although it can sometimes be done a little earlier.
During cordocentesis, the sample collected with the needle will be some of your baby’s blood. This can be taken from the umbilical cord, which is the link between your blood system and the baby. The blood can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities or used to check for signs of infection, blood conditions or other potential problems. A cordocentesis will only be carried out by private pregnancy services after 20 weeks. It can also be used to provide a transfusion or to deliver medication to your baby if necessary.