Treatments and Services

Prenatal Counseling

What is prenatal counseling?

During prenatal counseling, we meet with you before your baby is born to explain their health condition. We talk with you about the care your baby is likely to need. This can help you prepare for their birth and make informed decisions.

Most expectant parents seek counseling because an ultrasound during pregnancy shows their baby has cleft lip.

We also counsel expectant parents who:

  • Have a baby with another type of craniofacial disorder that was diagnosed by ultrasound.
  • Had genetic testing that shows their baby has a craniofacial condition.
  • Want counseling because they have a higher risk of having a child with a craniofacial condition. This may happen if the mother or father or another family member has a craniofacial condition.

Our Craniofacial Genetics Clinic can help families understand their chance of having a child with a craniofacial disorder.

Why choose Seattle Children’s for prenatal counseling?

For many families, craniofacial disorders seem rare and bewildering. We care for thousands of children each year with these conditions. We have offered prenatal counseling since 1997.

At your prenatal counseling visit, you will begin to meet members of the team who will care for your baby after their birth.

Our Craniofacial Center has experts in every field your child might need. Fifty specialists work as a team to diagnose and care for our patients.

How does prenatal counseling help my family?

Parents find it helps to have accurate, up-to-date information. Without prenatal counseling, you could have needless worry about your baby because of outdated or wrong information.

First, you will meet with a craniofacial pediatrician who reviews your baby’s diagnosis.

  • Doctor discusses your baby’s condition and the care they will need

    If your baby was diagnosed using ultrasound during pregnancy, the doctor explains the limits of ultrasound in detecting the severity of clefts and other craniofacial disorders.

    The doctor also talks to you about possible causes of the condition. Changes in genes cause many craniofacial syndromes. Sometimes, environmental factors like smoking increase the risk of conditions like cleft.

    Next, the doctor explains the care your child will likely need throughout childhood.

  • Social worker and nurse support and teach you

    One of our social workers supports you as you prepare for your baby’s birth. We will put you in touch with resources in your community.

    If your baby has a cleft lip or palate, a nurse teaches you about options for feeding your baby, depending on the type of cleft they have. We will give you special bottles.

    When parents are prepared with information on how to help their baby eat, babies are more likely to gain weight properly.

    We’ll also explain how to set up the first clinic visit once your baby is born.

Who’s on the prenatal counseling team?

A craniofacial team pediatrician, a social worker and a nurse meet with you during your visit.

Read more about the Craniofacial Center’s team approach.

Contact Us

If you have had prenatal diagnosis by ultrasound, ask your clinic to fax the information to us at 206-985-3121. After we review your information, we will call you to set up your appointments.

An ultrasound diagnosis is not required. You or your family doctor can contact us for an appointment.

We encourage you to talk with your primary care provider about coming to Seattle Children’s specialists. This helps coordinate your care.