Q. What does the term "high-risk pregnancy" mean?
A. A high-risk pregnancy describes a pregnancy where certain factors put the mother, the developing fetus, or both at higher-than-normal risk for complications during or after the pregnancy and birth. Factors such as age (younger than age 15, older than age 35), weight, history of complications duringprevious pregnancies, multiple gestation, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure may increase chances for a high-risk pregnancy. Consult your health-care provider if you have any of these conditions or symptoms.
Q.Who treats women with high-risk pregnancies?
A. Women evaluated by their healthcare provider and diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy are often referred to a perinatologist, or maternal fetal medicine specialist, a highly trained obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in the care of women with high-risk pregnancies and also prenatal diagnosis. Treatments for high-risk pregnancy vary and may include dietary restrictions, medications and, occasionally, in utero (in the womb) therapeutic techniques.
Q.What are the most common fetal conditions requiring a maternal fetal specialist?
A. Conditions affecting infants in the womb that may require the expertise and care of a maternal fetal medicine specialist include:
• Birth defects
• Blood disorders
• Chromosomal abnormalities and genetic syndromes
• Multiple birth
• History of preterm birth
• Congenital infections
• Intrauterine growth abnormalities
Q.What does it mean to have to go on "bed rest?"
A. Some women's complications during pregnancy may require them to limit their mobility and activity. Bed rest during pregnancy can range from simple periodic resting at home to full bed rest and monitoring in a hospital. At the Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital, women on bed rest spend their days in the hospital's 13-bed, all-privateroom Antepartum Unit, complete with a full range of amenities including a family kitchen, lounge and laundry facilities.
Q. How is my pregnancy care co-ordinated between my specialist and my regular healthcare provider?
A. Your regular obstetrician or nurse-midwife will stay in regular contact with your high-risk pregnancy specialist. A woman may see her maternal fetal specialist several times over the course of her pregnancy, though it will be her obstetrician who continues to manage the pregnancy and deliver the baby.
Q.What is genetic counseling?
A. Genetic counseling is a service provided by a health professional with a specialized degree and extensive training in the field of medical genetics. A genetic counselor is an integral part of the maternal fetal medicine team providing genetic expertise to physicians and other health professionals. Genetic counselors review family histories, discuss genetic risks, explain available testing options and implications of test results, as well as provide support to patients and family members. A genetic counselor provides information in a non-directive, unbiased manner and allows the patient to make her own decisions regarding testing options.