Every parent starts to create an image of who their baby will be, often after just a few short weeks of pregnancy. When unexpected news in pregnancy challenges those dreams you need to know where to get information and support. What should you ask? What do you have the courage to ask? Who can you trust to give you honest, unbiased information?
These questions are why I created “Walking With You”, my independent midwifery service. Unexpected news in pregnancy covers a vast range of issues, from things which are basically “curiosity” findings to those which are devastating in their effects for the baby and the wider family. I offer time, space, clarity of information, support to access relevant additional investigations and advice from experts in various fields. I am passionate in my commitment to informed choice and aim to be non-directive in my work. I support those who continue their pregnancy knowing that their baby has complex issues which will have a major effect on their life or which mean that the baby is expected to have a very short life. I support those who decide that endhttp:// https://yourmidwife.org.uk/midwifery/should-i-be-worried-antenatal-scans-and-test-results/ing the pregnancy is the most compassionate decision, aiming to spare their baby suffering.
Trisomy screening. The NHS offers screening tests to all pregnant women. These include the combined test which estimates the chance that a baby is affected by any of three conditions, Down’s (trisomy 21), Edward’s (trisomy 18)and Patau’s (trisomy 13) syndromes. The result is given as a ratio – for example 1 in 100 chance. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/screening-tests-for-you-and-your-baby/downs-syndrome-edwards-syndrome-and-pataus-syndrome
Most people feel that they “know” about Down’s syndrome, but have never heard of Edward’s or Patau’s. I strongly advise that you seek some insight before making any decisions. Two organisations I recommend are Positive About Downs Syndrome (PADS) and SOFT UK (details below). Both organisations provide insight into the lived experience of these conditions. An “increased chance” result is defined by the NHS as 1 in 150 or greater chance for any of the conditions. If you are given such a result you will be offered additional testing. This is a point where many people come to me. There are many issues to consider and a number of options to consider. One option is non-invasive testing which I offer, using The SAFE Test (equivalent to the better known Harmony test)if appropriate. link to blog post
Abnormal scan findings. Ultrasound scans in pregnancy are often viewed as an opportunity to see and bond with your baby, or to try to identify whether you are having a boy or a girl. What is often missed is that the primary reason that the NHS funds these is to look for issues, abnormalities or anomolies which may have an impact on your baby’s life. Sometimes it is immediately clear what the issue is,and how serious the implications are, at other times a finding is unusual but it is unclear whether it is of significance. Very frequently people tell me that they immediately made a private scan appointment “to get more information”. This is rarely the most useful way forward. The NHS offers world class fetal medicine provision – sometimes you may want help to access this and/or support through that time. Please always know that you can pick up the phone to share your concern and I will suggest ways forward.
Walking With You offers specialist midwifery support for those facing unexpected news in pregnancy, either as one-off consultations to clarify issues and decided a way forward, or continuing care throughout the pregnancy and beyond. This may be to work with you as you prepare for a future different from your expectations, when you know your baby has a condition such as Down’s syndrome or spina bifida. It may be to share and cherish precious time with your baby whose life is expected to be very short. It may be to walk with you as you end your pregnancy, sharing and supporting your journey of love and grief. There is much more information on my website https://yourmidwife.org.uk/
I also provide care for those enjoying more straightforward pregnancies but who want high quality information enabling them to make informed choices for their pregnancy and birth.