What to Expect from a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist

September 17, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Sheveta Jain, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pregnancy, Women's Health, .

For mothers-to-be whose pregnancies aren’t routine, the doctor or midwife may make referrals to maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists for extra care. These high-risk pregnancy experts, also called perinatologists, are OB/GYNs with additional education in diagnosing, monitoring and treating pregnancy complications in women and their unborn children. Their focus: keeping both mother and baby healthy before, during and after giving birth.

Sheveta Jain, M.D., MFM physician affiliated with Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Riverview Medical Center, outlines what you should know about MFM specialists and the benefits of working with one.

WHEN TO SEE AN MFM SPECIALIST

A woman may consult with an MFM specialist before and during her pregnancy, and after giving birth. Here are some common reasons why women see these specialists.

BEFORE PREGNANCY

  • Planning a healthy pregnancy. Meeting with an MFM specialist before you conceive can help you plan a healthy pregnancy. This specialist can monitor how your pregnancy is affecting chronic health conditions that involve your heart, blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, immune system, digestive system and more. She or he can advise you about safe medications and other treatments and how to stay healthy after delivery.
  • Investigating past pregnancy problems. An MFM specialist can find solutions to multiple miscarriages or early labor and delivery.

DURING PREGNANCY

  • Screening for genetic abnormalities, birth defects, growth restrictions and more. In addition to blood tests, MFM specialists use advanced testing to identify genetic problems and birth defects. This allows parents to prepare for the birth of a child with special needs. It also helps pediatric surgeons make plans for treating babies with birth defects after — and sometimes even before — birth. If tests show a baby’s growth is restricted, an MFM specialist can decide whether an early birth is best.
  • Checking the health of multiples. Twins, triplets and other multiples face a wide variety of risks and higher odds for early delivery. These specialists can track the growth of multiples and use advanced imaging techniques to look for the causes of medical issues multiples can face, such as slow growth or circulation problems. In some cases, an MFM specialist can even perform procedures to correct issues before birth.
  • Treating your health. You may be treated by an MFM specialist if you’re injured during pregnancy.
  • Assessing other problems and risks. An MFM specialist can assess and recommend treatment for pregnancy problems such as too much or too little amniotic fluid, conditions in which the mother’s immune system attacks the child’s tissue, and diabetes or high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy.

AFTER LABOR AND DELIVERY

Women who have complications after birth, such as heavy bleeding or infections, may receive care from an MFM specialist along with an intensive care team. Dr. Jain adds, “An MFM specialist usually works with the obstetrician, family doctor or nurse-midwife caring for you during your pregnancy to create a care plan for you and for your baby. If needed, he or she will also work with other specialists who are taking care of you and with other doctors ready to care for your newborn after birth.”

THE BEST FOR MOM AND BABY

In addition to offering expert high-risk pregnancy care close to your home, Jersey Shore has a Level III NICU to ensure the safest possible care for your unborn child. Learn more at JerseyShoreUniversityMedicalCenter.com/Maternity.

The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.