This is a sponsored post for Panorama Natera Prenatal Screen. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.
I am a mom of 5 kids. I had my first child, my 19 year old son, when I was 28 and my youngest child, also a son, at age 40. In between I had 3 equally healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Between 28 and 40, I had 2 miscarriages which I don’t talk about. The first miscarriage happened 4 years after the birth of my oldest son. We didn’t struggle with getting pregnant the second time. I felt fine up until we found out our baby had died at about 10 weeks. We struggled and worried for another three years until I was pregnant with my second son.
In the back of my mind, I was afraid. Would we lose another baby? Why had we lost the first one? We had no answers. We had no way of getting answers. It was accepted that miscarriages happened, but no one talked about them, or why they happened.
I didn’t take my second successful pregnancy for granted. We waited until I was 3 months pregnant to tell family. We took advantage of the tests offered to us. At the time, in 2002, testing was limited for normal pregnancies. I wasn’t considered high risk for any reason, family or other.
In 2004, I had my second miscarriage. I felt vulnerable. Yet within a month, I was pregnant again with our 3rd son. I still remembered the joy of finding out I was pregnant again even though I had just lost a baby. I still worried. I was 37 with a greater risk for having a baby with Down’s Syndrome. We did the Down’s Syndrome test and the early ultrasound just to be sure I would have a healthy pregnancy.
Tips for Pregnant Moms
When I had my first son, What to Expect When You are Expecting was my pregnancy bible. I dog-eared the book trying to understand all the changes my body was going through to support new life. To this day, I would recommend the book for new moms.
What I’ve learned along the way as a mom who was pregnant 7 times, and cared for children during 6 of the pregnancies is pretty simple:
1. Get healthy before you get pregnant.
Your body will be under stress while pregnant. If you’re carrying extra weight, you’re carrying extra stress for your body. Work towards the optimal weight for your height and body make up with the help of your doctor. Take vitamins and follow the current recommendations for particular vitamins like Folic Acid.
2. Make exercise a regular part of your day.
Before you get pregnant, have a regular fitness routine, and adjust the routine with guidance from your doctor during your pregnancy. I credit my lifelong fitness habit, especially my daily sit up routine for helping me gain a healthy amount of weight during my pregnancy and return to a regular weight after the baby is born.
3. Drink water and eat a healthy diet.
Think of everything going into your body as building blocks for the little one growing inside you. Follow your doctor’s guidelines if you have health issues or you are a high-risk pregnancy. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a few mistakes along the way. Motherhood is a marathon. You will make mistakes because you are perfectly human.
4. Ask for help.
When I was pregnant with my 4th and 5th child, I struggled. I had post partum depression after both babies were born. My perfectionist tendencies got in my way, and I passed my anxieties and depresssion tendencies along to my children.
Now as an older mom, I have a support network of friends and family. As hard as it is, I ask for help. If I got pregnant now at age 47, I would get as much help as I can. I would also get support because my age increases the risk for chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome.
5. Give Your Gynecologist a Complete Individual and Family Health History
Before you head in for your first prenatal appointment, pull together a health history to share with your doctor. If you have had surgeries or any health issues that could affect your pregnancy, make sure your doctor has this information in your records. You are partners working together to help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
6. Get Prenatal Testing
Testing has come a long way since I had my first child in 1996. With the advent of non-invasive prental tests like Panorama, you can be safely screened for chromosomal abnormalities without risk of miscarriage unlike amniocentesis. To have the test done, a blood sample is drawn from your arm. Fathers can also send in their sample for the genetic screening with a simple cheek swab sample, though their sample will not impact the accuracy of the test.
Did you know that it’s common for people to be carriers of at least one genetic condition? While carriers can be healthy, they can pass on the genetic condition to their children. Having a partner who also carries the same recessive genetic disease gives your children a 1 in 4 risk of being affected. Had I known this as a mom of 5 kids, I would have received carrier screening for my later pregnancies. If you test positive for a genetic condition, follow up with your doctor about possible additional testing.
Panorama’s Horizon Carrier Screening is a simple test you can do before you get pregnant to see if you’re a carrier for specific autosomal recessive and X-linked genetic conditions. According to the National Genetics and Genomic Education Center, women can be carriers of the x-linked genetic conditions, but not have the condition since they have a second unaltered copy of the gene. If a woman is a carrier of an x-linked condition like cystic fibrosis or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, she has up to a 50% chance of have an affected child in each pregnancy.
Panorama is the only NIPT that differentiates between maternal DNA and fetal (placental) DNA using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) technology, which produces accurate results. A recent study found that positive test results are correct 83% of the time. Panorama has the lowest false positive rate of any prenatal screening test for the commonly screened chromosomal abnormalities, trisomies 21, 18 and 13. Panorama also tests for:
- Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)
- Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome)
- Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome)
Sex Chromosome Abnormalities:
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Triple X syndrome
- Monosomy X (Turner syndrome)
- 1p36 deletion syndrome