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Antenatal Testing

Sarah Buckley has written an interesting article on antenatal testing in Midwifery today.
In essence all testing is geared towards getting the perfect pregnancy and the perfect outcome. Is knowledge power? Some tests can be argued for on the basis of CP knowledge, for example your blood group and your haemoglobin. Then you move into the exclusion of diseases like hepatitis syphilis and aids.

“Technological obstetrics makes the assumption that more knowledge is better, but, like Eve’s apple, the knowledge that we gain through prenatal diagnosis can cast us from our pregnant paradise, with major and long-lasting sequellae for mother, baby and family.” — Sarah Buckley

You are offered a nuchal fold scan to predict the chance of a trisomy abnormality in your baby and if you miss this then the triple test can do the same prediction. This leads you onto an amnio if the news of risk is high.

These are your initial tests. What do they really mean? Well they mean that Obstetrics is set up to try and ensure your baby is perfect. Most of the tests are a chance, so to confirm the diagnosis you need yet more invasive and risky tests. When considering these things you have to look at the big picture. Do you want only a baby that is considered perfect. If the answer is yes, test away buy into the west world of the future. If you wouldn’t consider this but will love and care for your offspring whatever, then do yourself a favour and give these tests a wide berth.

What about ultrasound? There is little evidence to say that this is a safe test for your baby and lots of anecdotal evidence (not double blind randomised or controlled but the the man on the street a good indication of doubt) to say that babies are distressed, move away, become disorientated by this procedure. What does it find out? Well nothing that is of any benefit until the birth if it’s on a routine basis. That’s not to say that on occasion there aren’t advantages to this technology just that used indiscriminately it creates more problems than it cures. Oh but you can get to know the sex of your baby!!! Even better you can 4D the poor mite into a hideous insight of your baby’s private world of safety. That’ll make it feel really secure, and why wouldn’t feelings start this early.

I have personal experience of this as a care provider. I worked with a client who at 18 weeks had her scan (I came along later in the picture) and was advised that her baby had a severe problem, probably bad enough to terminate if she couldn’t face a life of difficulty and heartache.

After taking on an independent midwife (me) we were able to negotiate home care instead of high risk clinic. It was suggested she had 4 weekly then 2 weekly scans but when we ask why and what would change we were told nothing would change before the birth but keeping an eye is interesting. How shocked and upset were they when my clients explained they weren’t interested in knowing nothing further on a 4 weekly basis.

Prior to the time of birth an appointment was set up and my clients were told quite frankly that there was a risk the baby wouldn’t take a first breath (although our own research didn’t back this up). The birth was at the hospital and as great as it could be there, to find out this baby had absolutely nothing wrong. All tests had been wrong. What a different potential outcome this could have been.

If you pass these tests you can move on into the world of the GTT which is a whole issue on it’s own. as Micheal O’dent say’s a diagnosis without an illness. Again not one piece of evidence to prove risk, but anyone with this label can rely on the medical system to interfere and intervene to their hearts content.

Then in the very last furlong you meet the GBS swab. Not done in other countries but there to instill horror into the heart of any woman who is randomly positive at the time of testing. This is a cyclic commensal (harmless) bug that on rare occasions can create an issue. There are so many ways to keep your finger on the pulse over this without swabbing your birth canal (GBS is cyclic so what is positive at 34/36 weeks may well be neg at time of birth). Giving Antibiotics as prophylactic is a waste of time, energy and money. Antibiotics can be brilliant and effective but they can make you feel awful and affect your baby’s gut for months for nothing more than a rare just in case. from 700,000 women in the UK they had 288,00 women GBS positive at time of testing, 700 babies that were colonised naturally and with no issue with GBS 75 ill babies and 25 deaths. This doesn’t change whether you give antibiotics or not. UK government don’t do it. Not just because the effect, but the money spent on 288,000 antibiotics and all those baby gut problems just isn’t justifiable.

I would encourage every woman to look into these tests thoroughly before consenting to any and setting yourself up for a cascade of intervention. Talk to independent midwives who have no vesting interest in continuing the fabrication and spouting the party line. Look at the evidence and consider yourself your baby and your family before anyone comes near you with anything.

To sum up another quote from the marvellous Sarah Buckley -

Finally, as we look more deeply, the parallels between prenatal diagnosis and medicalized childbirth become increasingly obvious. Both industries are centred on high technology and its superior knowledge, and both consider women’s own feelings and instincts about their bodies and their babies to be of lesser importance.