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High-Risk Pregnancy? How a Perinatologist Can Help

Perinatologists provide specialized care to help you safely get through a complicated or high-risk pregnancy. Pregnancy is an amazing process but sometimes complications arise that may put you or your baby at risk. You might need extra care before or during your pregnancy. If so, your OB/GYN may recommend that you see a doctor called a perinatologist.
Perinatologists are obstetricians and gynecologists with special training in high-risk pregnancies. They are also called maternal-fetal medicine specialists. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, a perinatologist may be part of your health care team and can help guide you through your pregnancy.

Taking Care of You

Health issues can complicate a pregnancy. Talk with your OB/GYN if you are pregnant – or preferably before you become pregnant – if you have an existing health condition such as:

  • Asthma
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease

Some conditions may get worse during pregnancy. It is a good idea to work closely with your OB/GYN to manage your health before and after you become pregnant.
You may also need to see a perinatologist if you:

  • Had trouble with previous pregnancies
  • Will be 35 years old at time of delivery
  • Are very overweight or underweight
  • Are carrying more than one baby
  • Had abnormal screening tests such as AFP (alpha fetoprotein)

Cause for Concern

Other times, a concern may come up during pregnancy. So you may need to see a perinatologist if:

  • The baby doesn’t seem to be growing appropriately
  • You go into labor too early
  • You develop high blood pressure or diabetes while pregnant

Your perinatologist will work closely with your OB or midwife to manage your care. Together they can help keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.

Helping to Ensure a Healthy Delivery

Along with keeping in contact with your OB/GYN, several other strategies may help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

They include:

  • If you smoke, quit. If you need help quitting, talk with your doctor.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Take folic acid. Most women need 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folate every day.
  • If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, take steps to keep it under control. Your doctor can help you manage your condition.
  • Talk with your doctor about all the medicines you’re currently taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as herbal supplements.
  • Avoid contact with toxic substances, including chemicals and cat or rodent feces.

Also, be sure to talk with your OB about a healthful, nutritious diet and getting the right amount of physical activity.