What Is A Maternal & Fetal Medicine Specialist?

Published on 08/11/20

A Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist, also known as a Perinatologist, may be referred to you if your pregnancy is considered a high risk pregnancy. It is also not uncommon for a maternal and fetal medicine specialist to be referred to you during a low-risk pregnancy. Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialists are a subspecialty of obstetrics that are crucial before, during, and after pregnancy, especially if you have pre existing health conditions.

Maternal and Fetal medicine specialists will work with you if you need special tests/procedures, develop problems while you’re pregnant, or may be dealing with abnormal ultrasounds or possible birth defects. 

They provide you prenatal care and work with other healthcare providers or midwives to cater to your needs. 

Having a first-time pregnancy, and being a first-time parent means a lot of things that are not routine become new routine. And not having a history of pregnancies means having a plan during and after pregnancy could be a great way to ensure the progress and development of your baby is done with the best of care.

High risk pregnancies can be considered something as simple as having twins. Which means a Maternal & Fetal Medicine specialist may be part of your medical team. 

What Is Considered A High Risk Pregnancy?

There is a vast range of reasons your pregnancy could be considered a high risk pregnancy. Factors have to be weighed out like maternal age, pre existing medical conditions, medical conditions that occur during pregnancy, and pregnancy related issues. 

Women younger than 17 and over 35 are considered a high risk category of ages. There is a higher risk for miscarriages and defects that create complications during pregnancy that should be monitored by a specialist. 

If a woman has pre existing conditions before pregnancy or a history of miscarriages, this can present risks for both mother and baby. Previous medical conditions such as hypertension, autoimmune diseases such Lupus, seizures, blood clotting disorders, kidney or heart problems, and/or infections like HIV, can mean a Maternal and Fetal Medicine specialist might be referred to you for a high risk pregnancy.  

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s best to discuss with your doctor if you decide you want to become pregnant. This way your doctor can optimize your health to help avoid or prevent higher risks during pregnancy. 

It’s not only before pregnancy, but after becoming pregnant developing pregnancy-related medical conditions also can make you high risk. Being healthy before pregnancy won’t prevent you from becoming high risk with syndromes like preeclampsia during pregnancy. 

Preeclampsia involves high blood pressure/swelling and can be considered fatal for mother and baby if it goes untreated. 

There is also a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy that can be considered high risk called Gestational Diabetes. Healthy pregnancies are still common even with gestational diabetes and usually resolves itself after pregnancy but does, however, increase the risk of the mother developing type 2 diabetes. Possible risk for gestational diabetes should be monitored as high risk by a Maternal & Fetal Medicine Specialist. 

Additional risks that can develop because of pregnancy alone can be developmental problems with the fetus, premature labor, twins -triplets, quadruplets, etc.- and placenta previa. 

  • Fetal Development – a small percentage of babies have developed structural problems during pregnancy. Sometimes the result of family history, and sometimes unexpected. 
  • Placenta Previa – which is a condition where the placenta covers the cervix. If this happens close to delivery, your doctor may consider a Cesarean section – or C- Section – to diminish risk to the mother and the baby. 
  • Premature Birth – any labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature labor or premature birth. These can put women at risk for infection and need to be monitored especially if a woman has had a previous preterm birth.
  • Multiple Pregnancies – these high risk situations include women who have more than one fetus: twins, triplets, etc. These pregnancies make it common for women to have a higher risk of hypertension, premature labor or birth, and gestational diabetes.

Whether you need to see a Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist for a high risk pregnancy can be determined by your health-care provider. Before your pregnancy, your doctor may suggest ways to reduce the risk of a high risk pregnancy with a few basic steps based on your history and present state of health. 

What Is The Difference Between OB/GYN and a Maternal & Fetal Medicine Specialist?

Your general OB or Obstetrician is normally four years of residency training after medical school. They qualify to deliver babies and practice general obstetrics and gynecology. Maternal and Fetal Medicine is a 3-year specialty program after Obstetrics medical school. In addition to delivery, and general obstetrics/gynecology, they focus on medical complications that may include surgery of the mother and the diagnosis of fetal conditions. Also known as high risk pregnancy doctors. 

Maternal & Fetal Medicine Specialists’ – Specialities

Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialists work with your regular doctor, OB, midwife, etc., to ensure the total and complete care for you and the baby throughout and after pregnancy. 

They manage:

  • Regular prenatal care for women that are high risk
  • Run tests – gynecologic and obstetrical ultrasounds, CVS, birth defects, genetic disorders, amniocentesis, sonohysterogram, saline infusion, and cord sampling
  • Diagnoses and manages disorders or birth defects in developing babies
  • Cares for and monitors complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery
  • Monitors health of the mother after pregnancy such as bleeding or infections
  • Helps recommend information to minimize risk for future pregnancies and reproductive lifetimes
  • Genetic counseling
  • Gestational diabetes management
  • Minimally invasive gynecologic ultrasound
  • Pre and post natal nutrition services

Before Pregnancy

Getting with your health-care provider about the state of your health before pregnancy can help you plan for a healthy pregnancy journey for you and your unborn child. If you have a history of chronic conditions that involve the your heart, immune system, digestive system, etc., a Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist can help recommend steps and adjust medications to help stay healthy throughout the duration of your pregnancy. 

During Pregnancy

Accessing previous conditions and developed conditions during pregnancy can help your doctor recommend treatment during pregnancy and monitor them accordingly. When screening for abnormalities of the pregnancy, this can help parents and the doctors determine what kind of birth defects and growth/development issues to prepare for during delivery and post delivery. 

This gives doctors a chance to plan for pediatric surgeons if necessary, and the best type of delivery that might be needed for mom and baby. 

Advanced imaging technology allows maternal and fetal medicine specialists to monitor the health of multiple babies and the higher risks that come with twins, triplets, etc. 

In some cases, maternal and fetal medicine specialists can correct issues before birth. 

After Pregnancy

At times, women with complicated pregnancies deal with more after birth. Your Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist will work with your doctor or midwife to develop a plan to care for you and your newborn after pregnancy. 

Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine in NYC Is Here For Your High Risk Pregnancy Needs 

The minute you learn you have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s hard to deal with the uncertainty and fear for the health of your baby.

During this time, you need to know you have the best medical care delivered by compassionate experts who understand your challenges. That’s the type of exceptional high-risk pregnancy care you’ll receive from the team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online for a high-risk pregnancy consult.

Talk to our team by phone or book an appointment online to get started. Call one of our six convenient NYC locations or schedule a video consultation online today. Come visit your NYC Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialists for the safest possible care for you and your unborn child.