Maternal Fetal Medicine and High Risk Pregnancy Care
Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents, but for women with high-risk pregnancies, it can also be a time of concern and worry, both for their own health and for the health of their developing baby.
At the Women’s Health Center, maternal-fetal medicine specialists provide comprehensive care for women with more complicated pregnancies. They will work closely with your obstetrics provider and hospital staff to ensure you receive the best and most appropriate care for your specific medical needs throughout pregnancy and delivery.
What is a high-risk pregnancy?
High-risk pregnancies are pregnancies in which specific medical conditions, diseases or even personal or lifestyle factors place the mother, baby or both at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy or delivery. Some of the conditions that could indicate a high-risk pregnancy include:
- Gestational diabetes
- Hypertension of pregnancy
- Substance abuse
- Older maternal age
- Previous miscarriages
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Genetic conditions
- Pre-existing diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes
- Women who have had a high-risk pregnancy in the past
How often should I see a doctor if I have a high-risk pregnancy?
Most women with complicated pregnancies will need to see the doctor more frequently for prenatal exams, testing and monitoring. Your office visit schedule will be based on your needs and your baby's needs, and will be developed once your initial evaluation takes place.
How can I tell if I have a high-risk pregnancy?
Seeing a doctor as soon as you determine you're pregnant and continuing to see the doctor for all scheduled prenatal exams is the best way to identify issues that could indicate you or your baby may be facing potential complications during pregnancy or delivery. Some conditions that contribute to high-risk pregnancies develop during pregnancy and may not appear during the initial exam, which makes regular office visits especially important. During each exam, evaluations like blood tests, urinalysis, ultrasounds and other important assessments will be made to monitor your health and your baby's health and development. Based on those results as well as your personal and family medical histories, the doctor will be able to determine if your pregnancy should be considered high-risk.
What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling is an important part of family planning for couples who have or may be at risk for inherited disorders. During counseling, parents will be advised about genetic testing, learn about inherited disorders and inheritance patterns that can help determine risk, and learn about in utero evaluations and assessments like amniotic fluid testing, as well as other options. Ideally, genetic counseling is performed prior to pregnancy as a part of family planning services, but during pregnancy, testing can serve a vital role in helping identify high-risk pregnancies and in helping parents understand the implications of genetic disorders as well as possible treatment options and interventions.
Does having a high-risk pregnancy mean I'll need a cesarean section?
No, many women with high-risk pregnancies are able to deliver vaginally. The decision to have a cesarean section (c-section), typically will be made once you're close to your delivery date.