pregnancy

Sarah has one word she wishes midwives would stop using.

A mum in the UK has issued a heartbreaking plea to midwives and medical professionals around the world.

Sarah Roberts is mum to five-year-old Oscar, who was born with Down syndrome. Through her blog Don’t Be Sorry, Roberts raises awareness about Down syndrome and writes about her experience raising little Ozzie.

In a recent Facebook post, Roberts explained that she’d prefer midwives to say ‘chance of Down syndrome’ rather than ‘risk of Down syndrome’ when speaking to pregnant women and their partners at their 12 week scan.

In the post, Roberts explained that a friend of hers recently went for her 12 week scan and asked the midwife to use the word ‘chance’ rather than ‘risk’ when talking about her nuchal translucency scan.

“Now anyone who has been following our page for a while, will know that I have been known to get on my high horse about the word ‘risk'”, she wrote.

As Roberts explains when women have their first scan around 12 weeks, they also have bloods taken, as well as a measurement of the fluid behind the baby’s neck – and those combined results give them their ‘risk’ of having a baby with Down syndrome.

“The reason I’ve been known to talk about this on here before, is because last time I looked, having Oscar hasn’t exposed me or anyone else to danger. Quite the opposite. So I (along with a lot of other parents of kids with DS) feel that ‘chance’ would be a much better use of language,” Roberts said.

According to Roberts when her friend requested the change in language, the midwife replied: “Of course. I’m so sorry we don’t mean to offend. I’ll make a note on your file that this is a sensitive issue for you,” and the sonographer reassured her she could “do something about it at 20 weeks” if she did find out that her baby had Down syndrome.

Roberts hopes her post will help to change people’s mindset and approach to Down syndrome, and the possibility of raising a child with the condition.

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“It’s about changing people’s mindsets right? One person at a time,” she wrote. “Whether they work in health care or whether they’re someone like you or I who perhaps didn’t have the knowledge and understanding before.”

“Please feel free to tag a Consultant, Midwife, Paediatrician, Sonographer or any other health care professional who may find this of interest/relevant. It’s about changing perceptions one small step at a time,” Roberts finished off her post.

Midwife Cath warns against getting bouncing contraptions for babies. Post continues…

Distinguished Professor Caroline Homer, the President of the Australian College of Midwives, said this post highlights just how important language and terminology is.

“Many women find the word risk really problematic as it suggests something is wrong,” she told Mamamia.

“Risk is also in the eye of the person – what is a risk for some people may not be seen as a risk for others. Also, women and clinicians often perceive risk differently and that is the same between different health providers.”

Professor Homer said the ACM does not have a specific policy around this, but this post definitely, “highlights the importance of careful consideration about how we as midwives talk with women”.

“Using the word chance is much less value laden,” she said. “And just states what the chance is of something happening and then the individuals can work out for themselves what that means for them.”

What do you think of Sarah’s message?

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