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Ultrasound and Amniocentesis

Obstetrical ultrasound can help your doctor determine:

  • how far along you are in your pregnancy;
  • if you are going to have more than one baby;
  • if your baby has any major health problems and is growing properly; and
  • the position of the placenta, which can affect whether or not a vaginal delivery is safe.


Amniocentesis is a simple procedure that involves withdrawing amniotic fluid from around the growing fetus through a slender needle. Your doctor may recommend amniocentesis for many reasons, including:

  • if your baby is at risk for certain types of birth defects such as Down syndrome, spina bifida or anencephaly;
  • to determine if the baby's lungs are mature enough for delivery;
  • if you have an infection; or
  • if there is maternal blood sensitization (usually Rh sensitization) to make sure the baby is developing normally.