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Amniocentesis torture

(21 Posts)
Boymaker Fri 30-Oct-09 14:46:24

I am a 41 year old woman expecting her third little boy. My last boy that I had at 37 was found to have a 1/42 Downs Syndrome risk and my husband and I found it an incredibly difficult time. Especially as all the tests had been done quite late and the baby was already moving and kicking about inside me. We have always discussed Down's as a possibility as I am so old and both know we would terminate if the pregnancy went this way but the decision became much harder when psychologically the baby was already feeling like a different entity to myself. Luckily after amnio we found out that Number 2 was fine.
The problem is that with the first amniocentesis I found the whole experience unbearably painful. I felt like the gyny was sticking a knife very slowly into my tummy and felt the womb being pierced. I was screaming and had to be held down and the doctor kept yelling that if I didn't calm down I would damage the baby. I found the whole experience extremely upsetting and swore I would never ever go through that again. Now I find that the screening for Number 3 is 1/52 and so will have to have another amnio. I am terrified by the thought of this and not sure I can put myself through it - it feels like I am putting myself up for medieval torture again. Does anyone else here have a bad experience of amnio and any tips for how I can avoid the pain option?
Thanks in advance

Bucharest Fri 30-Oct-09 14:51:31

Hi there,
Sorry to hear that you're worried about the amnio again. I had one (at 37) and I did find it very painful- but only momentarily, kind of a bit longer than a vaccine injection/blood taking.
Do you think maybe it's on your mind also more because of the worry?
Sorry not to be able to offer much help, but I did find it over very quickly.

Boymaker Fri 30-Oct-09 15:08:34

Hello Buch and thanks for your kind words and swift reply.
I really didn't find it over very quickly (actually if felt like a lifetime in hell!) but this maybe because I am a big girl and so there's a lot of tummy to get through before you get to the womb! I also had a pain in the site of the amnio for 2 weeks after - to be honest at the time I thought they'd punctured part of my intestine or something but eventually it went away. I'm less worried this time about the outcome I think, though I'm not altogether sure, I'm older now after all. I know its not just timing because I brought this up with my gyny in the very first appointment at which point he laughed it off and said "Hey hey well lets wait for the screening and see if we have to hurt your poor little tummy again this time" which I hated him for all the way home in the car. angry
Did you have a pre-injection to numb the site? I read on another site that this can be an option (though it was never offered to me) but then it says rather ominously "but most women find this injection more painful than the amnio itself and opt for the option of only one needle". shock
Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

Bettymum Fri 30-Oct-09 15:21:26

I had an amnio a couple of weeks ago, last one was a couple of years ago with DD. I don't find that they hurt exactly but yes, I could feel the needle puncture the womb which is a bit odd. I didn't get a painkiller injection but I did get a cold numbing spray on my tummy, which killed the pain of the amnio needle pretty much. I was an emotional sobbing wreck for the entire week afterwards, it hurt quite a lot and I oculd feel the needle site and a kind of pulling feeling. I spent most of my commutes in the car crying in case I'd just done something that would cause the baby to miscarry. It is all horrid really isn't it? How many weeks pg are you? If you are earlier than last time it might be easier.
As to time, I'm a skinny thing and it still took a while, I think it all just depends on where the baby is and where they have to position the needle and so on. This time they had to wiggle the needle about a bit as the baby kept trying to stick its feet in the way, and that was quite uncomfortable. Not sore, just a really odd feeling.
Anyway I'm rambling, but just wanted to give some support. Do you have a screening counsellor at your hospital? We had a lovely midwife who was very sweet - I was in tears before the second amnio just thinking about it and she was there to give me a hanky, and also to phone with the results. Is there someone like that you could speak to to help put your mind at reast?
Best of luck with everything.

Northernlurker Fri 30-Oct-09 15:24:11

You don't have to have an amnio - is CVS a possibility? I'm not sure how that rates in terms of pain - but at least it would be a different experience?

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Oct-09 15:25:04

I had two amnios, several years apart, and yes, they both hurt like a bitch. Normal, given the size of that godawful needle. No tips, sorry.

Bettymum Fri 30-Oct-09 15:29:15

I have to this day not seen the size of the needle. It's just something I don't need to see. I keep my eyes firmly on the baby wriggling about on the scan screen smile.

Boymaker Fri 30-Oct-09 15:36:13

Thanks for all this support - really!
BettyMum thanks for the info that skinny mums can take for ever too even though you didn't really have any pain. I live in France and there not really into counselling over here but I'm being sent to a new unit in the hospital in a big city nearby (my local gyny who did the last amnio has chickened out and is packing me off to town!) so perhaps things will have advanced in this field since last time.
CVS I've heard is even more invasive but I don't really know what this means and I think there is more risk which ain't good!
CoteDazur you seem to have gone through something similar to me...any thoughts why we're not experiencing just "discomfort" but rather searing tear-jerking pain? Blunt needles perhaps? Yeah I know I'm clutching at straws here... smile

Dragonfly73 Fri 30-Oct-09 15:47:03

i had a CVS and by the sound of it, it has much the same procedure. Big needle inserted into abdomen = ouch. with the CVS they sample a bit of the placenta. with the amnio they puncture the anmiotic sack and take some fluid. I had my CVS at 13 weeks. I think the earliest the amnio can be done is 16 weeks. i couldnt wait and the fetal medicine unit i was seen at had one of the best complications rates in the country for CVS so i was happy to go that route. The higher risk of the CVs is directly related to how many the administering doctor has performed in the past. Inexperienced doctors have higher complication rates.

I did have the local anesthetic. It did numb it up a bit but i still felt the needle puncture the abdominal wall and my uterus. it was a very odd sensation but didnt hurt as such beyond the initial shock of the puncture.

I think some people are more senstitive to pain than others though and i bet your mental state plays a huge role in how it feels for you.

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Oct-09 18:27:58

Maybe it's just French doctors grin I'm in France, too.

I don't believe amnio isn't painful fir some, just like I don't believe childbirth wasn't painful for some (except with serious self-hypnosis). Little need that barely pierces skin hurts, yet a 15 cm huge needle is just 'uncomfortable'. Right. hmm

echops Fri 30-Oct-09 18:34:11

Hi there - I too had a CVS at 13 weeks and didn't find it painful at all - just a bit strange and worrying. Kept my eyes closed the whole time and squeezed the hell out of my husband's hand. How about enquiring about a CVS that's done via the vagina as opposed to the external needle?

lumpasmelly Fri 30-Oct-09 19:04:16

Had a CVS at 12 weeks with DS1 and it didn't hurt at all....I think they numbed the area with was only after the procedure that my husband (who was looking quite faint) mentioned the size of the needle. I am usually a big scaredy cat when it comes to this stuff so I was quite surprised that it was so painless. I had mine done at the Fetal medicine centre in london, so perhaps the skill of the guy doing it made a difference, but I think the fear of it and the possible miscarriage risk is the most frightening aspect and at the time of having it done, I was oblivious to this (more in shock at having to have it done as I was only 31 and had done no reasearch into the procedure to begin with.

Bucharest Fri 30-Oct-09 19:07:08

Was sure I'd added a second post earlier- oops. No, I didn't get any kind of local numbing agent either- but I'm in Italy where they do childbirth and all its business either totally naturally or totally GA, so hardly surprising there was no painkiller for the amnio!

It was a big big needle, I do remember thinking f* me.....but it was over very quickly for me......

My friend had a CVS last year and tbh, the procedure sounds identical, just a different bit they're testing.....

PacificWerewolfwoohood Fri 30-Oct-09 19:11:00

I had CVS x3 and amnio once. IME amnio was much less uncomfortable than CVS where a biopsy from the placenta is taken. CVS I truly found no more uncomfortable than having blood taken or any other injection.
A local anaesthetic injection would only work to numb the skin but not the other layers of tissue/muscle the needle has to go through.
The size ie diameter of the needle for amnio is tiny, the length is another story...

Maybe you could try to think of this amnio as a new experience altogether and not focus too much on a previous traumatic experience? I know, easier said than done but positive thinking/visualisation might get you through it more easily.

FWIW, I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with DS4, will be 44 when he arrives smile.

Good luck to you!

juuule Fri 30-Oct-09 19:13:04

I've had 2 amnios done and strangely they didn't hurt at all. I felt some pressure just before the needle pierced the skin but nothing after that. However, the person doing it was very quick and did it more as a jab rather than slowly. Don't know if that makes a difference.
First amnio was a bit unnerving as it had to be done twice. The first time it didn't go into the amniotic fluid.
Second time the person doing it was spot on.

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Oct-09 20:32:39

"A local anaesthetic injection would only work to numb the skin but not the other layers of tissue/muscle the needle has to go through."

Local anaesthetic works fine for amnio. Which is why they do it.

juuule Fri 30-Oct-09 20:36:03

I didn't have any anaesthetic. Wasn't offered one.

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Oct-09 20:41:32

I wasn't, either. Possibly why it hurt like bloody hell. Unsurprisingly, given the size of that needle and the depths it went.

PacificWerewolfwoohood Fri 30-Oct-09 20:43:30

Nope, didn't have local either. Maybe was just lucky that did not hurt much. CVS on the other hand..<<cringes>>

juuule Fri 30-Oct-09 20:44:17

As I said before, both mine didn't hurt at all. Seems I was lucky too.

Boymaker Sat 31-Oct-09 16:49:09

Well thanks all of you - its been nice talking about it with you even though and I'll let you know if I survive - should be sometime the week after next.
Cote d'Azur I love your tone - seriously hon we seem to have a similarly cynical outlook on things! Don't get your amnio local amnio remark though - suppose it is still in your sarcastic tone????
PacificWerewolf am so excited there is someone with even more DS than myself - don't think I'll be tempting fate with a fourth though even though the lure of pink, glitter,sparkles and princess crowns is strong, so strong (and to think I used to be a tomboy). Still it seems I am destined to live in a world of khaki and brown, trucks, sticks, soldiers and later boxes of tissues by the side of the bed no doubt! Gotta love boys!
Don't you just all read this though and think hold on a minute how come some of us are living a really unpleasant thing while for others it just doesn't hurt at all? They're goddamn doctors, it shouldn't hurt for ANYONE, right?

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