The point of a paternity test is to tell you who the biological father of your baby is. Fortunately, science has come a long way in this arena, allowing us to find out this info through relatively simple medical exams.
But what about when your baby is still in the womb? Can you do a paternity test while pregnant?
Here’s the lowdown.
(And we’ll just squeeze in here to say that we know that this can all be super stressful. You’re doing the right thing by finding out all you can about your options. Join us on Peanut if you need support through this time.)
Can you determine paternity while pregnant?
The short answer is yes. You don’t have to wait until after your baby is born to find out.
And there are so many reasons why this matters.
As the American Pregnancy Association tells us, knowing paternity gives you information about the medical history of your baby and allows you legal access to financial benefits.
Having the info while you are still pregnant can help you make important decisions about your future and eliminate the stress of not knowing for sure.
That being said, the topic of paternity tests is not without its complexities.
As this study shows, there are so many unanswered ethical questions surrounding paternity testing—both in the general population and in the medical field itself.
The bottom line? You do what’s right for you.
How can you tell who the father is during pregnancy?
The test of choice for the American Pregnancy Association is a DNA test known as the NIPP (or Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity) test.
You can have this test done from about the seventh week of pregnancy.
This is how it works:
- You will have blood drawn. In the lab, the test will separate your DNA from your fetus’s DNA.
- The potential father will have his DNA collected through a cheek swab.
- The samples will be compared to see if there’s a match. If there is, the test will reveal a 99% or greater probability. If there isn’t, the result will be a 0% probability.
The other prenatal paternity testing options available are:
- Amniocentesis. Somewhere between weeks 15 and 20 of your pregnancy, your doctor will collect a sample of your amniotic fluid. They do this by inserting a needle into your abdomen. The DNA present in the sample will be tested against the potential father’s DNA.
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Usually performed between weeks 10 and 13 of pregnancy, your doctor will insert a thin needle through your cervix to collect tiny pieces of tissue from your uterine wall. These will then be compared to the DNA of the possible father.
Both of these tests are riskier than the NIPP test, as they may increase your chances of having a miscarriage.
That being said, it’s important to note that there is some contention as to exactly how dangerous they are.
As this study suggests, the risk of miscarriage that these tests carry may not be as great as it’s often made out to be.
Either way, because these are more invasive procedures, there is a chance of side effects.
For CVS, these include pain, hemorrhaging, and infection, while amniocentesis may cause vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid, and severe cramping.
How accurate is a paternity test while pregnant?
The NIPP test is 99.9% accurate, and CVS and amniocentesis tests appear to be about as precise.
Caveats? Unfortunately, if you are expecting multiples, the test can’t be performed.
Also, testing two potential fathers with similar DNA is not recommended.
How much is a paternity test while pregnant?
Tests range from about $400 to about $2,000.
An NIPP test is the most expensive of the tests because of the technology involved in separating your DNA from that of your fetus.
Does insurance cover paternity testing while pregnant?
Insurance coverage typically includes procedures that are seen as medically necessary.
While it all depends on the coverage you have and your specific situation, most insurance plans are unlikely to cover paternity testing.
We know this can feel like a lot to deal with.
Reach out to loved ones. Access counseling services if that feels right to you.
You don’t have to do this alone.
Good luck. We’re rooting for you.
💡 More from The 411:
Can Twins Have Different Fathers?
Do Identical Twins Have the Same DNA?
Identical vs Fraternal Twins: What’s the Difference?
Can You Do a DNA Test While Pregnant?
What to Know About Painting While Pregnant