Deciding to start trying for a baby is a big decision – many couples spend years deciding whether they’re ready to have children. If you’ve decided it might be time to start (or expand) your family, it may also be a good idea to talk to your partner about genetic testing.
Recent advancements in pre-pregnancy planning include genetic carrier screening, which involves a simple, non-invasive blood test of both parent’s DNA to check for genetic mutations that can lead to genetic disorders in their offspring. Some of these disorders can be inherited from one parent, and others may require both parents to pass along the same genetic mutation on the same chromosome.
If you’re planning to become pregnant soon, you may have already considered this kind of testing. Or, perhaps you’ve done your research individually and are unsure about your partner’s opinions on the matter. It’s important to be able to have honest conversations about these issues, because knowing your child’s risk of a genetic disorder can help you and your partner prepare for your pregnancy and provide better care for your child.
If you’re interested in genetic carrier screening, but have not yet discussed the topic with your partner, consider these tips:
- Start by discussing the basics. It may be helpful to begin the conversation by simply discussing your own personal medical histories, or your family’s medical concerns. This information can be helpful if you decide to meet with a genetic counselor later on, and it can help to open up a conversation on the topic.
- Be patient. When beginning the discussion with your partner, it’s important to remember that they may not know as much about this topic as you. If they have questions about what genetic screening results mean or how the process works, make sure to be patient. Answer their questions if you can, or schedule a meeting with a doctor or genetic counselor for the best possible guidance.
After you’ve discussed the possibility of undergoing genetic carrier testing and have an understanding of what you hope to learn, it may be a good idea to meet with a professional. Genetic counselors are trained professionals that will be able to guide you through the testing process, help you pick a testing company, answer any questions, explain your results, and lay out your options.