When planning a pregnancy, there will be a number of appointments to schedule and attend, a new diet to adapt to, and of course, a body that will be changing. In addition to these lifestyle changes, there will also be decisions that must be made during your first visit to the obstetrician.
Every woman is now being offered prenatal screening tests to determine the risk her baby has of developing a birth defect or a chromosomal disorder. If the screening shows a high risk of developing a birth defect, your physician will present you with the option of performing a prenatal DNA diagnostic test.
This process may be very intense for the soon-to-be mother, however, it can also be emotional for her partner. Involving your partner in the discussion about prenatal DNA testing will help them feel more connected to the process and will allow them to help make the decision that is best for you and your family.
Here are some talking points to discuss with your partner regarding prenatal DNA Testing:
Why are these tests performed?
Prenatal DNA tests are performed to detect the likelihood or presence of a chromosomal abnormality or birth defect. Couples may decide to have these tests performed in order to know how to care for their baby. By understanding what their child may need in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life with a disability, preparations can be made before the birth of the child. Another reason for performing the test is to prepare for the delivery day of the child. If the child will need immediate care, you can choose a hospital that has the best facility for its needs and you can also arrange for a specialist to be present at the time of birth.
What kinds of tests are available?
● Non-invasive prenatal testing can be performed as early as week 10 and comes without the risks of prenatal invasive procedures.
● Chorionic villus sampling, or CVS, is performed between weeks 10 to 12.
● Amniocentesis is performed between weeks 15 to 20.
● Cordocentesis or Percutaneous Umbilical Cord Blood Sampling (PUBS) is performed after week 17.
Is there a risk of your baby developing a birth defect?
If the mother is of advanced maternal age of 35 years or older, there is an increased risk that the baby may develop a chromosomal disorder, such as Down syndrome. It is a good idea for you and your partner to discuss if there is a family history of a disease or a chromosomal disorder.
Make an appointment with a genetic counselor
A genetic counselor will provide a supportive environment where you will be able to learn about your testing options. Your genetic counselor will also discuss any risks that are associated with advanced maternal age, family history, being a carrier of a specific genetic disorder, or family history of disease or genetic disorders. This will be a safe place for you to ask all pending questions and receive well-informed answers.
Ask for support during the actual procedure
Some prenatal DNA tests are invasive and may present anxiety on the day of the procedure. Ask your partner to accompany you to the appointment for support. Seeing the procedure of the test that has been chosen by both of you will keep both of you involved in the process.
It is always best to discuss testing options with your physician or your genetic counselor before coming to a conclusion. Working alongside your partner while planning a safe pregnancy will give you both a better understanding of the process and help you make the best decision.