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The needle is passed into the amniotic sac that surrounds the foetus and a small sample of amniotic fluid is removed for analysis.

The test itself usually takes about 10 minutes, although the whole consultation may take about 30 minutes.

“The most recent data showed an approximately 1 in 900 chance for a miscarriage to occur as a result of an amniocentesis,” cautions O’Toole.

“Once the pregnancy has reached viability outside the womb, this becomes a risk of preterm delivery.

But today, the improved accuracy of screening options has limited the number of people that elect amniocentesis in their pregnancies – more are electing to start with screening tests like blood work or ultrasound and only move to amniocentesis if a concern is detected.” An amnio can be performed by week 15 of gestation, although some physicians wait until 16 weeks.

It is usually performed before week 21, although in the case of an early delivery – often considered for the Amniocentesis is not done blindly; the team uses an ultrasound in order to find the biggest pocket of amniotic fluid and monitor the baby.

For one, the amnio test is expensive, invasive, and can raise the risk of miscarriage.

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“In the past, it was very common for a pregnant woman to simply decide to have amniocentesis in her pregnancy.

Find out more about what happens during amniocentesis The first results of the test should be available within 3 working days and will tell you whether Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome or Patau's syndrome has been discovered.

If rarer conditions are also being tested for, it can take 3 weeks or more for the results to come back.

As described, a long, thin needle is inserted through the abdomen into the womb, where it can draw up to 20 m L of amniotic fluid.

The length of the needle can be intimidating, certainly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be miserable for the mother, according to O’Toole.

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