Birthing Ayurveda: Week 18—Why I Decided on Genetic Testing
Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
I came back from my trip this past week to the decision of whether to do genetic testing or not. If you are at this stage of your pregnancy (about 4 months) and have not already been asked this question by your provider, you should be soon. There are several types of testing that you can do (talk to your provider), but most of them involve some combination of blood tests and may also involve a sonogram. You can even have your blood tested for placental fragments, which hold your baby’s DNA. From that simple blood test, you can tell all about your baby’s genetics.
These tests are non-invasive (you do not have to have a needle inserted into the placenta or the amniotic fluid), and therefore, overall, pose little risk—if any at all—to your baby or to your health.
Nevertheless, my husband and I went back and forth on whether to do testing or not at least a dozen times. We started with a confident “no.” The results of the test would not impact any decision we had made. We also had these ideals of wanting to let the baby just be.
But then we started to think about it more, and I reflected on how life-altering and impactful news that a baby has challenges has been on previous patients of mine. It made me think about how I would react to the news. Part of the flip-flopping was understanding myself (at this level) a bit more.
On one hand, I knew that this kind of news would create anxiety in me, and so I felt that it was best to go through the pregnancy without anxiety and worry, letting the baby mature in an environment with more emotions of security, safety, and happiness. On the other hand, while it would create anxiety, I also knew that I would eventually come to grips with it, accept it, make the necessary arrangements and plans for after delivery to handle the child’s challenges, and love the child anyway.
I ended up counseling my husband and myself in the same way I would have counseled any of my patients. In the end, I asked both of us that, assuming the worst, what decision would leave us feeling prepared, yet accepting and loving the most? For us, it ended up being to do the testing. I felt confident in our ability to accept and love anyway. I also felt that when I saw the child for the first time, I wanted to have only love and acceptance in my heart. I did not want any surprises that would pull me away from those emotions.
There is no “Ayurvedic” answer. Such technology just was not available, aside from pulse diagnosis, during ancient times when Ayurveda was first practiced and the ancient texts were written. And even then, the Ayurvedic physician had such discrimination and insight and a deep relationship with the patient as to know what to share and how to share it. In the end, I just want to share our thought process, things we considered, and the questions we asked ourselves in hopes that it might help you arrive at the answer that is right for you.
Let me also plug in here a quick nutrition tip for the fourth month. In general, the idea is to keep building! Drink milk, eat plenty of organic ghee, and eat naturally sweet and nourishing foods. In addition, start taking in more butter. This is a more solid by-product of milk, so eat more of this as your baby, too, is more solid! Rarely do you get to do this except in pregnancy, so enjoy it!