For expectant mothers, the prospect of having a baby is both a joyous and exciting one, and most pregnancies proceed smoothly. But for a number of reasons, some women need to be watched more closely during pregnancy. In this case, the woman's obstetrician may suggest she consult with a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine physicians, also called perinatologists, are obstetricians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care of expectant mothers and their unborn babies, who may be at high risk for special health problems.
Referral to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist should not cause undue alarm for expectant mothers. It does not necessarily mean the pregnancy will be a difficult one. Nor does it mean the baby will have health problems. Most often, it is simply a precautionary measure designed to protect both mother and baby, while putting the expectant parents' minds at ease.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine Services
- Screenings for fetal abnormalities, including:
- First-trimester and sequential screening for Down syndrome
- Genetic ultrasound
- Transabdominal chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
- Preconceptional counseling, prenatal screening, and in-utero diagnosis and treatment.
- Expertise in the evaluation of the fetal heart and the management of congenital cardiac anomalies.
- Utilize percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS) for evaluation and treatment of fetal anemia and thrombocytopenia, as well as fetal karyotyping.
- Perform shunt placement procedures for obstructive uropathies and drainage of other fetal cystic abnormalities.
- Expertise in the management of multiple gestations, pre-term labor and maternal medical conditions, such as:
- Thyroid disorders
- Manages isoimmunization, including intrauterine blood transfusions
As the due date approaches, the Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician remains in close contact with the obstetrician who will deliver the baby and, if needed, the neonatologist who will oversee the baby's care after birth. Smooth teamwork and good communication between the Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist, obstetrician, and neonatologist ensure both mother and baby receive the best possible care, leading to success in most cases, despite problems that can be severe.