Maternal Resources

Maternal Fetal Medicine

Maternal Fetal Medicine – High Risk OB Q&A

What is maternal-fetal medicine?

MFM, also known as perinatology, is the specialty of obstetric medicine that focuses on problems that can affect a pregnancy from the start, or arise any time during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. MFM specialists are high-risk pregnancy experts who work with expectant mothers and their families to successfully navigate and manage any pregnancy that isn’t routine.

Do MFM physicians have special training?

Yes. After graduating from medical school, an OB/GYN who wishes to focus on obstetrics must complete a four-year specialized residency program that involves all aspects of:

  • Prenatal care
  • Labor and delivery
  • Postpartum care
  • Genetics
  • Genetic counseling
  • Prenatal diagnosis

Obstetricians who decide to further specialize in MFM must acquire in-depth clinical experience with high-risk pregnancies through an additional two to three years of training. This is then followed by a comprehensive exam process to become board-certified.

What qualifies as a high-risk pregnancy?

When you hear the term ‘high-risk pregnancy,’ you may automatically associate it with some maternal health problem. But simply being over the age of 35 puts an expectant mother in the high-risk category, as does carrying twins or other multiples.

Women who live with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, epilepsy, or kidney disease, have high-risk pregnancies. Likewise, women who develop hypertension, gestational diabetes, or any other significant health problem during pregnancy will also become high-risk patients.

MFM specialists are also the go-to physicians for pregnant women who have a diagnosed placenta problem or a history of miscarriage, preterm labor, or cesarean delivery.

What other types of care do MFM specialists provide?

MFM specialists provide special monitoring or care for maternal conditions and health problems. They’re uniquely qualified to manage a wide variety of fetal complications, including:

Advancements in ultrasound technology and prenatal diagnosis techniques have made it possible for MFM specialists to detect many congenital disabilities in utero.

MFM specialists diagnose and manage problems with blood flow to the placenta, which can slow a baby’s growth. They also watch for problems, such as high blood sugar, that may cause a baby to grow too fast.

Because certain maternal infections can cause growth problems or congenital disabilities, MFM specialists provide advanced treatment and careful fetal monitoring for expectant mothers with herpes, chicken pox, and other dangerous infections.