A man rests his head on his wife's pregnant belly.

Maternal-fetal medicine

Expert care for mothers and babies during complicated pregnancies

When pregnancy complications happen, it’s important to seek the unique expertise of maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Sometimes called perinatologists, our maternal-fetal medicine doctors are high-risk pregnancy specialists who focus on providing compassionate care to moms and babies at higher risk. Risks may include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, pregnancies with multiple gestations (like twins or triplets), suspected fetal health concerns or health conditions you had before pregnancy.

High-risk pregnancies can come with feelings of uncertainty. At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we’re here to help. We have expert teams dedicated to helping you reach your goals for a healthy pregnancy and birth. We’re by your side every step of the way, explaining things in terms you can understand and working together to create a personalized plan for you and baby.

Our maternal-fetal medicine services

We offer a range of services, including preconception consultations, screenings and pregnancy care.

Pregnancy or preconception consultations

During your first visit, we’ll discuss your health history, current conditions or health concerns for your pregnancy. Next, we’ll plan any necessary assessments or tests, and work with you to create a special care plan for you and baby.

Risk assessment for families with a history of birth defects

We provide risk assessments for families with a history of birth defects. These screenings can help us decide if further genetic counseling or diagnostic tests are recommended to help identify risk for conditions such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

Genetic counseling

Our genetic counselors review available screenings, interpret results and offer support for patients who are at risk for, or have been diagnosed with, a genetic disorder. We’re by your side to help you understand your results and discuss next steps.

Evaluation of newly diagnosed pregnancy concerns

If you or your baby have recently been diagnosed with a health concern, we’ll provide a full evaluation to make sure you have the information you need. We’ll explain things in a way that you understand, talk through any questions you have and connect you with helpful resources.

Prenatal and postpartum care for women with high-risk pregnancies

High-risk pregnancy specialists help co-manage your prenatal and postpartum care alongside your regular OB-GYN doctor or midwife. This care includes routine prenatal appointments to monitor your health, track baby’s growth and offer guidance on your birth plan. Some patients visit a maternal-fetal medicine doctor for a one-time service, such as a diagnostic ultrasound, then return to their doctor or midwife. Others may fully transition their care to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist for the duration of their pregnancy.

Diagnostic procedures and detailed ultrasound screening to test for genetic disorders

Our maternal fetal specialists are highly-trained to provide screenings, diagnostic ultrasounds and procedures needed to diagnose genetic disorders, birth defects and other health concerns for mom and baby. We use state of the art equipment and advanced genetic testing during pregnancy to provide accurate results in a timely matter.

Pregnancy after age 35

Although pregnancies in women over the age of 35 are considered high-risk pregnancies, the majority result in healthy babies. Our maternal fetal specialists are experts in prenatal care for women at a high risk pregnancy age and can help ensure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.

Common maternal and fetal health conditions

Maternal health conditions:

  • Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Endocrine disorders (including gestational diabetes, thyroid disorder and lupus)
  • Cardiac disease
  • Infections
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Previous pregnancy and delivery complications (including preterm birth, premature rupture of membranes, and more)

Fetal health conditions:

  • Multiple gestations (twins, triplets)
  • Down syndrome
  • Spina bifida
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Club foot

What to expect when you see a perinatologist

You can rely on the compassion and expertise of our maternal fetal specialists for every step of your pregnancy.

  • We’ll co-manage your prenatal and postpartum care alongside your OB-GYN or midwife.
  • We’ll provide an initial consultation to address your health and baby’s health, as well as identify any concerns.
  • We’ll perform necessary risk assessments, tests or procedures needed to diagnose any health concerns and create a personalized plan.
  • We’ll evaluate your health and give recommendations for future pregnancies.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Your OB-GYN doctor or midwife will refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist if there are health complications or risks with your pregnancy. You may also want to consult with a maternal-fetal medicine doctor if you’ve had a high-risk pregnancy in the past, or if you have a family history of fetal health concerns.

Whether you need just one visit for an ultrasound or need to see us throughout your pregnancy, our skilled specialists are dedicated to providing you with the highest level of care possible.
Our care team includes:

  • Perinatologists – Board-certified obstetricians who’ve had specialized training in maternal-fetal medicine and are high-risk pregnancy specialists.
  • Genetic counselors – Medical professionals with specialized training in genetics and counseling who provide consultations, risk assessments and counseling as patients make decisions about their health.
  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS) – Certified medical professionals who perform diagnostic ultrasound exams and are specially trained in high-risk pregnancies.

Maternal fetal specialists work with other OB care providers to ensure high-quality care during labor and childbirth. They provide expert advice on when to induce labor, when and how to monitor the fetal heart rate, and whether a cesarean delivery is needed. They may also attend complicated births, such as vacuum or forceps-assisted births, cesarean birth, or trial of labor after cesarean.

During a maternal-fetal medicine ultrasound we will use 3D and 4D ultrasound technology and fetal echocardiogram to examine the baby's head, heart, stomach, intestinal tract, kidneys, spine, arms, and legs. Screening for birth defects and genetic abnormalities is also done during this time.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what coverage and benefits your health insurance plan provides? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: