Increasingly maternal medical professionals in New Zealand are able to detect a number of foetal anomalies prior to birth. With the increased screening of conditions such as Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, heart defects, anencephaly and other anomalies, Family Life International NZ has seen a need to provide practical support and advocacy for families that find themselves dealing with life-changing news.
It has been revealed that in the next few years it will be possible to screen for more than 3500 different conditions antenatally. Some of these conditions will be treatable, others will not.
The Therese Programme seeks to support families who have a prenatal diagnosis of intellectual or physical impairment such as Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida, as well as those whose baby has a life-limiting condition.
We have found that parents who come to us are looking for a friend, someone who will support them through a very difficult time. Parents and other family members can feel intimidated by the medical professionals they see at the hospital. They are given some information, but often-times the pressure to terminate the pregnancy is much more palpable in their distressed state.
Our job is to be a friend, to advocate and support parents and other family members so that they can love, protect and nurture their unborn child through to birth and beyond.
Through the Therese Programme parents and other family members will receive support for their particular situation. This may include (and is not limited to) advocacy, access to medical information, introductions to families who have been through similar experiences, practical help and perinatal hospice.
The Therese Programme is privileged to have support from an experienced midwife, doctor and counsellors.
Family members who are interested in receiving support from the Therese Programme can contact us on 0800 367 5433 or visit our website www.pregnantandworried.org.nz (follow the prenatal diagnosis links).