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Maternal and fetal medicine (also called perinatology) is the specialty devoted to caring for pregnant women and their unborn babies during a pregnancy where there are complications. The goal of this specialty is to reduce stress for the mother and to increase the chances of safely delivering a healthy baby.
In most cases, pregnancy takes place without any problems. There are a few cases, however, where health problems require extra monitoring, testing, and more training than a regular ob/gyn might have. These specialized ob/gyns are perinatologists.
There are many different issues that might cause a patient to be referred to a maternal and fetal medicine specialist. Some of the issues include:
Services offered by maternal and fetal medicine specialists vary depending on the nature of the concern, but they may include prenatal testing, ultrasound, or diagnostic screening. It is common for a patient to see a perinatologist several times during their pregnancy but for their own obstetrician to deliver the baby. Perinatologists typically do not deliver babies, although they are available for consult if needed.