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Prenatal Diagnostic Tests continued...

Amniocentesis (called amnio for short). During an amnio, the doctor guides a very thin needle into your uterus and takes a small sample of amniotic fluid and cells to test. Amnio can spot chromosomal problems such as Down syndrome and trisomy 18. You usually have this test after 16 weeks.

Chorionic villus sampling (often called CVS). During CVS, your doctor takes a small sample of cells from the placenta to test for genetic disorders. This is generally done earlier in the pregnancy than an amnio.

Cordocentesis (also called fetal blood sampling). If the results of the amnio or CVS are unclear, your doctor or midwife may take a sample of blood from a vein in the umbilical cord to check for problems in your baby.

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Pregnancy puts extra demands on your body. When you’re older, these demands may increase even more. To maintain your health and the health of your baby, take extra special care of yourself no matter how old you are.

  • Get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Take prenatal vitamins every day that contain 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, which can help prevent certain birth defects.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. An average-weight woman needs to add only 300 calories a day during pregnancy. That's about a cup of low-fat yogurt, a medium apple, and 10 almonds.
  • Maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy by gaining the recommended amount of weight.  These guidelines are based on whether you’re at a healthy weight, underweight, or overweight before you become pregnant. Of course, these are estimates. Check with your doctor about how much weight you should gain.

Weight status before pregnancy

Recommended range of weight to gain

Underweight

28-40 pounds

Healthy weight

25-35 pounds

Overweight

15-25 pounds

Obese

11-20 pounds

Your weight status before pregnancy is based on your weight and height. Your doctor can help you determine yours.

  • Exercise regularly. Discuss your routine with your doctor or midwife.
  • Minimize stress. Cut back on activities you don't need to do and ask for help when you need it. Talk with a friend or your spouse or partner about what stresses you out. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises.
  • Make sure you get enough shut-eye. Your body is going through many changes as your baby grows, so you need your rest. Aim for about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. It's bad for you and your baby. If you've tried to quit but can't, talk with your doctor or midwife about getting help. The sooner you quit, the healthier it is for your baby. But quitting at any time during your baby’s development will still make a difference.
  • Take only the over-the-counter and prescription medicines that your doctor or midwife has OK’d for you. Don’t take any herbal or natural remedies without checking with your doctor or midwife.
  • If you use illicit drugs or can't stop drinking alcohol, talk with your doctor or midwife about where to get help specifically for pregnant women. The sooner you ask for help, the better off you and your baby will be.