Perinatologist (Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist)

What does a maternal-fetal medicine specialist do?

A perinatologist, more commonly known as a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, is an obstetrician who specializes in prenatal care of women who are at high risk of a complicated pregnancy. A woman may be seen by a maternal fetal medicine specialist if she:

has a preexisting condition that could cause pregnancy complications

is of advanced maternal age

has a history of pregnancy complications such as pre-term labor, low birth weight, miscarriage or stillbirth

requires more frequent fetal monitoring due to fetal anomalies, possible genetic disorders, etc.

Typically, an OB/GYN will refer the mother to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, if necessary. Maternal-fetal medicine physicians partner with multiple caregivers to consult, co-manage or care directly for complicated situations, both before, during and after pregnancy.

Education and training

As high-risk pregnancy experts, maternal-fetal medicine physicians complete specialized training to care for both mom and baby during a complicated pregnancy. They are board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and have completed four years of medical school and a residency program prior to their specialized fellowship.

The perinatal registered nurses all possess previous experience either in labor & delivery and/or caring for normal & high-risk antepartum patients. They focus on continuous antepartum screening and assessment and are trained and provide advanced patient education particularly in gestational diabetes management, and other special education related to patient diagnosis.

Our registered diagnostic medical sonographers are also part of the Maternal Fetal Medicine team. They possess expertise in abdominal and obstetrical ultrasound scanning and are supported clinically by the staff perinatologists.

Genetic counseling is provided by masters or doctoral-prepared board certified genetic counselors and medical geneticist. The genetic counselor’s role is to provide information and support to couples/families who have had a concern identified in their current pregnancy or have a family history of birth defects or genetic disorders. The genetic counselors are also available to discuss all prenatal screening and diagnostic testing.

Ancillary hospital staff members from areas such as the Cytogenetics Laboratory and other subspecialty services provide support as necessary.