Antenatal Testing: The Truth be Told

“We would like to schedule you for the CVS procedure, as you are over age 35. Statistically you are at increased risk of having a baby with genetic defects.”

Hmmm. Worry quickly shoots through the mother’s heart. “OK, yes Doctor”, she rapidly replies, “schedule it whenever you would like.” “Whatever you feel is best.”

But is it?

If you are over age 35 and seeing a “mainstream” allopathic caregiver during your pregnancy, typically an MD doctor, chances are high that you will be counseled regarding “the need” for antenatal testing procedures.

This same most likely holds true also if you are seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife even though they may in fact be practicing “as a midwife”; legally they must work in conjunction with an MD and will most likely be required to follow “protocols” as established by the doctor, and not necessarily by them self.

Underlying the reasoning for the testing, however, the bottom line is, and remains, that your agreement to undergo this test will protect the doctor during your care and the birth of your baby.

Protect the doctor? Yes.

The testing is not for the increased safety of your baby, or for your safety during pregnancy.

No? It’s not? Really?

Tuck this truth away, as you may need it later.

Yes, the testing is for the doctor who may then be alerted to any possible situation that could possibly cause problems while you are under his care, problems which might possibly create a lawsuit against them at a later date.

This will allow them to be on the red flag alert while they care for you during your pregnancy, for their protection. I am not implying that doctors are cold and calloused, although I do believe some are, as in any profession.

I am telling you the truth about why they are ordering the antenatal testing for you while you are under their care. Am I threading a sarcastic undercurrent here against doctors? Not at all. I am studying to become a doctor myself.

But am I telling you the truth? Yes.

I am also at mother who had my second and third children between the “high risk” ages 33 and 37 without so much as a poke in the belly by a doctor, let alone any ultrasounds, blood work, or other marvels of technology, “just to check” for “diagnosing any abnormalities”. Furthermore, I am a college graduate educated in the nursing and the medical sciences. I understand the medical “reasoning” which subjects pregnant women to various tests. I chose to skip the tests. So, what about you?

Do you really need to have the testing done?

Are you concerned that somehow you will be neglecting your unborn baby’s needs if you do not have the testing done - that somehow you will be responsible for any condition your baby may have if you decide against having the tests or procedures done?

Sister, worry not. Ponder these thoughts, and, I would add, coupled with prayer you will have a soothing blanket for your soul.

Your baby is already created. It is already formed. The majority of the substance (the best word I can find) that “becomes” a baby is already in-the-works, so to speak, growing inside of you.

By the time you have decided to visit your healthcare provider during your pregnancy, chances are that you are already at least eight weeks along, if not more. In those first 8-12 weeks, the baby already “is”, that is, wired and mapped for all that it is to be, practically speaking. The baby is already “mapped out” physiologically, neurologically, and anatomically and is now just “growing in to” what is already genetically determined.

Doctors know there is little parents can do about the status of their baby’s health in the womb, even if testing indicates a possible negative or undesired result. Knowledge of a condition cannot change Down Syndrome, dwarfism, cystic fibrosis, asthma, or many others. I urge you to consider these simple truths for which you need no formal medical knowledge at all.

Additionally, even when certain conditions can be helped medically, it is important for you to know that often the procedures are significantly (and surgically) invasive and carry, in most cases, serious risks for both the mother and the baby. Clearly, the results of prenatal testing are also prone to serious error and misinterpretation.

Do I place value in medical testing and technology? Yes, I really and sincerely do. Technology saves lives every day and is amazing. I am educated and experienced in the health care field, but would I undergo antenatal testing and procedures and trust results given to me by a healthcare professional?

Absolutely not. And I here is why.

You may have a very competent, wonderful healthcare provider, kind and gentle. But, these attributes are not reason enough for me trust their interpretations, or from secondary sources. Most likely, the test results come from yet another healthcare provider, a pathologist, radiologist, or geneticist.

Do you see how this leaves room for error? Common sense carries wisdom. Common sense can corner the medical market any day. Wisdom, we are told, will be given by God “freely to all those who ask” James 1:5

Is your healthcare provider absolutely certain of the results? How are they absolutely certain? Has all room for error been eliminated? Of course not. Have they overseen each step of the testing personally? No, that would be nearly impossible. Thus, they cannot assure you at all that any mistakes were not made. Are they certain they have the results for you, and not another patient? I’m sure you are getting the point. There are no guarantees. It is that simple.

Even in the best of intentions, your test results will be interpreted by someone just as prone to error as you are, and as I am, as we all are.

Make no mistake about this. In no way does higher education prevent them from error in decision and interpretation. This is a very important concept for you to grasp. Would they give this same advice to their daughter or niece? Hmmm, now it is getting personal.

Do you know that most doctors obtain second and even third opinions for their own medical conditions from their colleagues?

So, I urge you to also ask yourself two or three times, similar to physicians checking with their colleagues, before consenting to any procedure. It is imperative that you learn all that you can about the procedure by doing your own reading and research. You do not need a medical background for this, believe me.

Do not rely only on brochures or handouts the doctor or staff may give you concerning procedures. That type of literature will not give you the info you are seeking. Go to a library, or the internet, and do your own research. You are fully capable of making an informed decision as a parent.

Furthermore, do not be intimidated by your lack of medical knowledge as compared to that of a healthcare professional if you refuse treatment after your research. Trust yourself. You are capable of making a competent healthcare decision for yourself. Remember this!

by Sylvia Summers

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