Do You Need an Obstetrician or a Perinatologist

For women with high-risk pregnancies or fetal complications, a referral to a perinatologist may be required.

What Is a Perinatologist?
A perinatologist is an OBGYN who spent an extra two to three years specializing in maternal-fetal health and high-risk pregnancies. This specialist has a high level of training in diagnosing fetal development and abnormalities using ultrasound technology. A perinatologist is also experienced in using amniocentesis and cordocentesis procedures to analyze the health and development of the fetus.

A perinatologist is the specialist who will, if needed, administer medication through the placenta, aminiotic sac or umbilical cord. He or she will be present at the birth if needed, and will be the caregiver of choice for your regular checkups to help detect and correct problems in fetal development before birth. A perinatologist will also develop a treatment plan for the mother if rest or medications are needed to ensure a healthy delivery.

A perinatologists may team up with neonatologists during the birth of the baby to make sure that all measures for preserving the health of the baby and mother are taken during labor and immediately afterward.

Do You Need a Perinatologist?
Only about 10% of pregnant women need the extra care of a perinatologist. If you are referred to one, know that you will be receiving the necessary care for your baby and yourself in case any serious problems are detected.

Perinatologists have knowledge about all the developing systems of the fetus, including the placenta, umbilical cord, digestive system, brain, spinal cord, kidneys, lungs and bladder. Like most doctors, some perinatologists specialize in specific types of treatment. If a referral is needed, get as much information as you can about your current condition and potential complications. Try to interview at least three perinatologists, looking for the one who has the most experience treating women with your particular health needs.

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