Friday, February 20, 2015

Questions to ask after your prenatal diagnosis

When you are first told something is wrong with your baby, your head will spin.  You won't know what to ask or even what to think, you may go numb and not even remember the rest of the appointment.  When you go for the detailed fetal echo, here are some questions you can ask that will help you better understand what you are facing. 
  1. What exactly are you seeing at this point (ask them to draw a picture).
  2. Ask what their plan would be when you deliver, what hospital you'd need to deliver at and what kind of interventions you can expect at birth
  3. If you want a vaginal birth: Ask if they are comfortable with this baby having a vaginal birth if appropriate.  I've noticed OBs tend to jump to C-Section in situations like this because they feel they'll have more control, but often, cardiologists would be fine with or prefer a vaginal birth because it better preps the lungs for breathing.
  4. Now, when it comes to intervention, you'll want to know what the specific surgeon's statistics are for the specific procedure or procedures your child will be facing.  You'll also want to know what their post op statistics are.  As important as the surgeon is, the support staff who helps your child recover is just as important.  They are the ones to catch any issues that may occur after surgery.  Sometimes, Volume matters when it comes to OHS and recovery.  The higher volume hospitals see more patients so have a better idea of what to expect and how to handle issues that arise.
Finally, no matter what they say, get a second opinion.  When you are dealing with these huge, complex medical issues, getting a second opinion is always a good decision.  Medicine is an art as much as it is a science and a lot of medicine is evidence driven opinions.  It makes sense to check around before settling on a course of action.

One note: It has been my experience that a dedicated Children's Hosptial is always preferred to a hospital with a pediatric program.  The hospital's focus is different when it is kid oriented and that usually leads to better equipment and a more specialized understanding of a child's needs.

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