So, you got that Big, fat positive (BFP) you’ve been waiting for — congratulations! You set up an appointment with your OB/GYN and are crossing off things on your early pregnancy to-do list. But maybe you are also worried because you know you are overweight, have a chronic health issue, or maybe women in your family have a history of complex pregnancies. Is there someone else that should be included in your pregnancy journey?
Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists, also known as perinatal specialists, work in a sub-field of obstetrics and focus on higher risk pregnancies, working to keep the baby developing in-utero as long as possible and keeping mom and baby healthy together. MFM specialists can give you that extra care and attention you might need and keep your pregnancy worry-free (as worry-free as possible, as any mom will tell you). In addition to the training required to become an OB/GYN, an MFM specialist requires an additional two to three years of education and clinical experience. This ensures that MFM specialists become experts in complex conditions and procedures and are able to manage patients across a whole team to provide the best outcome possible.
Before You Become Pregnant
If you are still in the “trying to conceive” phase but want to know what, if any, changes you should be making to your lifestyle before you become pregnant, this is a great time to meet with an MFM specialist. He or she can look at the medications you are taking and tailor them appropriately, or suggest any supplements or dietary changes to get your body ready for pregnancy. They can also provide counseling, or perform any diagnostic procedures that might be needed at this stage.
If You’re Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Even if you aren’t necessarily classified as a “high-risk” pregnancy, there may be a few things going on that would prompt you to seek out an MFM specialist. For example, if you are pregnant with multiples, or have had multiple miscarriages in the past, having a specialist to closely monitor you can help ensure any issues as addressed. Additionally, through routine screenings and testing, sometimes your OB may find that the baby isn’t growing properly, or there are some potential indications for possible birth defects. Instead of just waiting for your next appointment and hoping everything works out in between, an MFM specialist can keep a closer eye while also helping you to feel at ease during what can be a very stressful situation.
If You’re Having a High-Risk Pregnancy
No woman wants to hear that she is having a “high-risk” pregnancy, but if that is you, know that there are resources and professionals available to support you along the way. If you have chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, or are over 35, it might be helpful to seek out the services of an MFM specialist. Additionally, if this is not your first pregnancy, and past pregnancies have resulted in early-term delivery, miscarriage, multiple births (twins or more), or have a family history of birth defects, working with an MFM specialist can help keep your care connected and safely manage any complications that emerge along the way. While you may feel like your complications are scary and uncertain, rest assured that an MFM specialist has probably seen them before and knows just what to do.
A high-risk pregnancy can be concerning for an expectant mother and challenging for her physician. Are you an expectant mother looking for perinatal help, or a care provider who wants to work with an MFM specialist to support a patient’s care during her high-risk pregnancy? Patients can ask their OB/GYNs about teaming up with our Arizona perinatal specialists at Valley Perinatal Services, while physicians can contact us online or call (480) 756-6000.