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To explore anxiety and pain felt by women undergoing chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis (AC).We prospectively questioned 254 women (67 undergoing CVS, 187 AC) before the procedure on their anxiety, after the procedure on their pain felt, and the support they received or desired. The medical team collected technical information concerning each procedure.The level of anxiety was significantly higher in women undergoing CVS than AC, in those who had received complete information before the procedure, and when indication for the procedure was fetal structural abnormalities. The level of pain was significantly higher in cases of anxious women, those undergoing a CVS rather than AC, those who had undergone invasive prenatal diagnostic procedures in previous pregnancies, in procedures deemed difficult by the operator, and with needle insertion in the lateral part of the uterus. About 30% of women undergoing CVS and 8% of those undergoing AC would have desired some form of pain prevention, mostly with nonpharmacologic therapy.Prenatal diagnosis is frequently associated with anxiety and pain. We identified factors that could exacerbate either one. When questioned, patients would desire a nonpharmacologic means for pain prevention. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.