What You Need to Know About High-Risk Pregnancy

High-risk pregnancy denotes a variety of common conditions. Maternal-fetal specialists can help navigate the unknown.

Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, learning you have a high-risk pregnancy can be very unsettling. A high-risk pregnancy may be related to pre-existing conditions you may have had before becoming pregnant or conditions you may have developed while pregnant or during delivery. Your pregnancy may not necessarily be more difficult, but you will need to see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

Dr. Brian Stafeil, an SSM Health board certified physician in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine, has answers to common questions women with high-risk pregnancies have. He sees patients at with SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Madison.

What is maternal fetal medicine?

Maternal-fetal medicine, sometimes known as perinatology, is a subspecialty of obstetrics in which physicians manage complications of the mother and fetus. We assist women considering pregnancy as well and women who are currently pregnant. Prior to pregnancy, we help women with pre-existing conditions prepare for a healthy pregnancy. We also work with managing medical concerns during the pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum period.  

What is considered high risk for pregnancy?

There is a spectrum of high-risk pregnancies. Some high-risk pregnancies are still managed by a patient’s primary obstetrician, but other women with more serious medical concerns need to be followed by a subspecialist. We work with women who have pre-existing conditions such as chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, heart conditions, etc. Women with pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, multiple gestations like twins or triplets, growth abnormalities, and fetal abnormalities are also often managed by maternal-fetal medicine specialists.  

What type of care do you offer?

We provide consultative services to review the medical concerns and provide a plan for pregnancy management for a patient’s primary obstetrical provider. In some situations, it is recommended for a patient to have their obstetrical care followed by a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.  At our clinic we provide complete care throughout pregnancy and postpartum.  We also perform ultrasounds throughout the entire pregnancy and perform ultrasound guided diagnostic procedures, such as amniocentesis.  

What made you choose this profession?

I appreciate the opportunity to work with our patients and their families, helping as many women as possible achieve successful outcomes. The technology of ultrasound is a lot of fun, especially with the advancements of improved image quality and 3D/4D ultrasound. The most rewarding part of my profession is counseling and spending time with patients, discussing the medical concerns, reviewing the management, and addressing their concerns.

For more information on high-risk pregnancies, visit this SSM Health resource page. No matter your situation, you can count on SSM Health to deliver comprehensive high-risk pregnancy care. Our goal is to give you a peace of mind and ensure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Find a provider near you today to learn more.

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