Preparing To Welcome A Baby Who Has Down Syndrome
At JunoDx™, we’re making it easier than ever to access reproductive genetic testing. We’ve got the clinical expertise and science-backed research, and we’re using it to deliver the high-quality prenatal genetics care you deserve.
What should you do to prepare when your baby has Down syndrome?
Each year in the U.S., around 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome (trisomy 21). So if you’ve recently learned your baby has a diagnosis of Down syndrome, that means you’re joining a pretty big community of caring, supportive families who have a pretty good idea of exactly what you’re going through. The diagnosis can be overwhelming, especially at first, as you start picturing the unique challenges you’ll face on the road ahead. But, as any parent of a child with Down syndrome will tell you — you’re also in for more rewarding experiences than you could ever imagine.
So, congratulations on your little one! Now let’s talk about what you should do to prepare before they arrive.
4 Tips For Preparing For A Baby With Down Syndrome
As your delivery date approaches, these steps can help you feel more prepared to welcome your baby home.
- Do your research!
Facing the unknown can be scary, so arm yourself with facts. Learning more about Down syndrome can help give you answers about what your family’s future might actually look like. Make sure you’re sticking to resources published within the last ten years. We know a lot more about Down syndrome now than we did when our parents and grandparents were having babies!
- Connect with the Down syndrome community.
Though it may feel like it right now, you’re not alone. Connecting with others who’ve been in your shoes can help you understand the unique struggles and joys that lie ahead. If you’re unsure where to start, check out this list of local and national support networks from the National Down Syndrome Congress. You can also check your state and local government websites for developmental disabilities resources.
- Choose your baby’s doctor.
If you choose your baby’s healthcare provider early, they can be a valuable resource for you as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world. Check if you have a Down syndrome clinic in your area. If not, try searching for a developmental pediatrician that’s got plenty of experience caring for children with Down syndrome.
- Prioritize self-care.
The closer you get to your due date, the more your thoughts naturally focus on your little one. Still, taking the time to care for your mental and physical health is worth it. Spend time with the people that love you, nurture your relationship with your partner, and listen to your body’s needs. The better you feel, the better you’ll be able to show up for your new baby.
Caring For A Baby With Down Syndrome: What To Expect
Just like neurotypical children, kids with Down syndrome will grow and develop at different rates. While you’ll face unique health and developmental concerns as the parent of a child with Down syndrome, your main job will still be to love, nurture, and support your little one!
The extra chromosome 21 that causes Down syndrome may make your child more likely to experience different health problems throughout their life. Soon after their birth, your baby will be screened for hypothyroidism, cardiac defects, sight or hearing impairments, and elevated white or red blood cell counts.
Weak muscle tone
Babies with Down syndrome often have low muscle tone – also called hypotonia. So, you’ll need to take special care to support your baby’s head and neck when you’re holding them. Make sure you talk to friends and family about this before they pick up your newborn!
Communication and developmental milestones
Babies with Down syndrome typically develop at slower rates than neurotypical babies. They may take longer to sit up, crawl, make noises, or say their first word. Try to let your child learn and grow on their own timeline instead of comparing them to others – even other kids with Down syndrome.
Parenting is a challenge, regardless of your child's medical and/or developmental condition(s). As your child grows up, don’t let a diagnosis get in the way of playing with your baby, making them laugh, and nurturing the bond you two share. No matter how much research you do, nothing can fully prepare you for how you’ll feel when you finally meet your little one. And for many parents and families, that’s worth all the challenges they may face with the diagnosis.
Learn more about the prenatal genetic screens available to parents-to-be that often test for chromosome conditions such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. The Juno Hazel™ Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening test is available as early as 9 weeks into the pregnancy, in the comfort of your home.
Still, waiting to learn the sex of your baby? You may be able to find out sooner than you think! Click here to read more about our Juno Birch™ Fetal Gender Test.
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JunoDx.com and the materials and information it contains are not intended to be and do not constitute medical advice, other health advice, or diagnosis. Do not use JunoDx.com or the materials and information published at JunoDx.com as a substitute for medical care and treatment. You should always consult with a qualified physician or healthcare provider about your specific circumstances.