If you are pregnant and unsure of who the father is, then you may be interested in a DNA test while pregnant. You can always have the testing done after your baby is born, but many women prefer to do so sooner than this. DNA tests will let you establish your child's paternity before they are born. DNA tests done during pregnancy are equally accurate as those done after birth since the DNA is determined from conception. As with any standard paternity test, one done during pregnancy will compare your baby's DNA with the DNA of the probable father. In most cases, you will also have to provide your DNA as this helps the lab determine which genes the baby received from you.

How Early Can I Take DNA Test in Pregnancy?

If you are interested in having the DNA test done during pregnancy, then you probably want to know how early it can be done. It varies based on the type of testing you want to do.

1. Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP)

A form of non-invasive prenatal paternity testing can be done when you are at the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy. This requires a simple blood test instead of invasive procedure, meaning there isn't a risk of miscarriage. You will need your blood tested and the potential father also needs to be tested. The results will look at DNA fragments from the fetus, which are in your blood in small quantities.

2. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

CVS, or chorionic villus sampling, is an invasive procedure that can be done at 10 to 12 weeks along or later. This requires in vitro testing, meaning a needle will be inserted through your cervix through the abdomen or vagina. The needle then pulls a chorionic villi sample from the uterus. Chorionic villi are small finger-like fragments of tissue which attach to the uterine wall. These villi contain the baby's genetic code so they can be matched to the potential father's DNA. Your doctor must consent to this procedure.

3. Amniocentesis

If you are already at 14 to 20 weeks in your pregnancy, then you can use amniocentesis as a DNA test while pregnant. During this procedure, your doctor inserts a needle into the amniotic sac within the uterus. They then withdraw fluid. This most common use of this procedure is for testing lung maturation in pregnancy, especially in case of a possible premature birth, but it can also be used for DNA testing.

There is a small risk of harm to the baby or miscarriage. You may also notice cramping, vaginal bleeding, or amniotic fluid leakage. You also need doctor's consent for this method of paternity testing.

How Much Does DNA Test in Pregnancy Cost?

The cost of a DNA test while pregnant will depend on the type of testing done. It may be anywhere from $400 to $2,000. It is almost always more expensive to do prenatal DNA testing as opposed to post-natal tests due to extra medical fees. Some testing locations will offer non-court-approved, “curiosity testing” for a lower cost. Early every center offers a payment plan to help you afford the testing. They probably won't release the results until they receive the full payment.

In some cases, your insurance may cover costs related to amniocentesis or CVS if used to diagnose potential pregnancy-related concerns. They may not, however, do so if it is used for paternity testing. Because of this, you should check your policy carefully to determine if you are covered. In most cases, you will get your DNA testing results within 5 business days but you may be able to get it quicker for a fee.

Can I Take the DNA Test at Home?

Although newer, there are some home paternity testing kits. They give you detailed instructions, collection bags, cheek swabs, and the return label so you can send the DNA sample to the lab. You just need to swab your inner cheek based on the directions, put the swab in the bag, and send it. This testing method only works for babies who are already born as the lab needs samples from the mother, suspected father, and baby. As such, it cannot be considered a method of testing DNA during pregnancy, simply a method of determining paternity after birth. Remember that these results aren't legally binding since the collection wasn't supervised.

Can the DNA Test Tell the Gender of My Baby?

There is a blood test known as a cell-free DNA test that has been in use in Europe for years. Previously, accuracy wasn't certain. The test looks at the fetal DNA within your blood, searching for any traces of the male chromosome. Recently, experts discovered that this testing is surprisingly accurate. It has 98.8 percent accuracy in the case of boys and 94.8 percent accuracy for girls.

Are There Any Side Effects?

If you choose to go with a non-invasive DNA test while pregnant, then there will not be any risk, either to you as the pregnant mother or the baby. Both CVS and amniocentesis, however, do have some risk. There is a small concern of potential harm to your baby. According to the CDC, having these procedures will increase the risk of miscarriage. CVS also has a small risk of an incomplete or improper formation of a limb, known as limb deficiency. This typically occurs on a toe or finger. The risk for limb deficiency from CVS increases as you do the procedure earlier in the pregnancy.