From the moment a woman is pregnant she is offered an ever increasing variety of tests. I use the term ‘offered’ despite the reality that the tests are rarely presented as options. When I ask women about the tests they had, they are often unsure about the whats and whys. The GP takes some blood for the ‘pregnancy bloods’ without explaining or gaining consent (ie. explaining each and every individual test). The ultrasound is ordered without the rationale for the procedure being discussed never mind any risks.
These tests are on offer. Women can choose to have all, some or none of them. We need to stop referring to women who decide not to test as ‘refusing’ a test – I hear this all the time ‘she refused…’. This implies it is wrong to decline something that does not fit with your needs as an individual mother. It is not our responsibility as midwives, drs etc. to ensure a test is carried out (and tick the box). It is our responsibility to offer the test along with adequate information and support the woman’s choice either way.
Antenatal care has become about screening out risk to ensure perfection – an impossible task. Antenatal care should be about supporting women to build self confidence in their ability to grow, birth and nurture a child.
You can read and listen to parents’ stories about different aspects of antenatal screening here.