You have learned your unborn baby has a medical condition. This news likely came as a shock. It may cause sadness and confusion along with many other feelings. It may feel like someone grabbed the rug you were standing on and pulled it out from under you.
This book will give you information about what comes next. We are here to offer you support along the way.
Receiving the news
There are many ways you may have learned about your baby’s medical condition.
You may have had a screening:
These tests may show your baby is at higher risk for a medical condition, but they do not give a final diagnosis.
- Serum screening
- A blood test that looks at the risk your baby having a genetic condition called Trisomy 21(Down syndrome), Trisomy 13, or Trisomy 18. It also screens for neural tube defects (NTD), such as Spina Bifida, abdominal wall problems, and placenta abnormalities.
- Non-invasive prenatal screening or cell free DNA screening
- A blood test that looks at the risk of your baby having a genetic condition called Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 13, or Trisomy 18
- Nuchal translucency looks at the thickness on the back of your baby’s neck using ultrasound at about 12 weeks gestation. Thickness on the baby’s neck may mean your baby is at higher risk for a medical condition.
- An ultrasound may have been done around 20 weeks gestation to look closely at your baby from head to toe.
You may have had diagnostic testing:
These tests give you a final diagnosis of the baby’s genetic condition.
- Chorionic villi sampling (CVS)
- The sampling of placental tissue to test for genetic conditions in an unborn baby.
- The sampling of amniotic fluid from around the baby to detect a genetic condition.
A range of feelings
Hearing your baby has a medical condition may bring up many feelings. It may be helpful to let yourself feel these as they come.
Learning this news about your baby may cause you to grieve the loss of the healthy baby you expected.
Pregnancy often brings a great deal of joy. Learning difficult news about your baby’s health may cause that joy to be replaced with sadness.
It is normal to worry what your baby’s and family’s future may look like. Fear of the unknown and loss of control may be very hard things to feel during the rest of your pregnancy.
It is okay to feel angry about the news you have learned about your baby. It may feel very unfair and hard to understand why this is happening to your baby and your family.
All parents feel guilt, whether it is well-placed or not. Most of the time you could not have changed your baby’s medical condition. Even if your baby inherited a medical condition from a parent, nobody can control which genes a baby gets.
Along with these hard feelings, we hope you also find joy, happiness, and anticipation as you get closer to meeting your baby.
As you learn about your baby’s health, you may need to make decisions about what comes next with your pregnancy.
You may learn about choices to:
- Continue your pregnancy
- End your pregnancy
- Place your baby for adoption
Your health care provider will talk with you about all of your choices. Their role is not to make this decision for you, but to give you information and support.