If you’ve been told your pregnancy is considered high risk, it’s natural to have concerns. But you can also have confidence, knowing University of Iowa Health Care is here to keep you and your baby healthy.
Our obstetrics and gynecology team includes providers with expertise in high-risk pregnancies. These providers are called maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialists.
Your regular obstetrician or midwife may refer you to an MFM specialist for extra testing, monitoring, or treatment if:
- You’re over age 35
- You’re carrying multiples, such as twins or triplets
- You have a history of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage or preterm (early) labor
- You have a chronic medical condition that can make pregnancy risky, such as diabetes, heart disease, or lupus
- You develop a pregnancy-related complication such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or placenta previa
- Your baby is diagnosed with a medical problem, such as a heart condition, while in the womb
Iowa’s most experienced maternal-fetal medicine team
Our MFM specialists have cared for every problem that can affect pregnancy. We know what to look for and how to manage it.
We also offer services that aren’t available anywhere else in Iowa. If you or your baby need advanced testing or treatment, you’ll find it here.
Our capabilities include:
- Fetal diagnosis: We offer a wide range of tests that can identify medical conditions while your baby is still in the womb. These include fetal ultrasound, fetal echocardiogram, and fetal MRI. By identifying heart problems or other conditions early, we can prepare your baby’s treatment plan ahead of time.
- Genetic counseling and testing: As Iowa’s only prenatal genetic counseling service, we can help you understand your baby’s risk of developing certain genetic conditions. We can also perform tests, like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, that confirm whether your baby has one of these conditions. Some of the conditions we can identify early include Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and cystic fibrosis.
- Inpatient care: If you or your baby need around-the-clock monitoring during your pregnancy, we’ll admit you to the hospital. This is often referred to as antepartum care. During your stay, you’ll have access to recreational therapy, television, free Wi-Fi, and virtual childbirth classes. And if you need help managing stress or obtaining baby supplies, our psychologists and social workers are also here to help.
- Fetal treatments: In some cases, we can treat your baby while they’re still in the womb. For example, if they have an irregular heartbeat (fetal arrhythmia), we may give you medication that controls their heart rate. We also offer procedures like fetal blood transfusion, which treats babies who aren’t producing enough red blood cells (fetal anemia).
- Neonatal care: You’ll find the most advanced newborn care available in our Level 4 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A Level 4 designation means we’re equipped to care for even the tiniest or sickest babies. This includes babies born as early as 22 weeks, and those with serious medical conditions.
Unmatched care coordination
With some patients, we know you’ll need complex care through pregnancy, during delivery, and immediately after birth. In this case, you’ll meet with a team of experts to plan for any treatments you or your baby will need.
This team typically includes:
- The maternal-fetal medicine specialist who is overseeing your care
- High-risk pregnancy nurses who will help monitor or provide your care
- Your regular obstetrician or midwife, if they’ll continue to be involved in your pregnancy and/or birth
- A prenatal genetic counselor
- A social worker who can help you with questions about insurance coverage, family medical leave, counseling, and support services
- Perinatal palliative care specialists who can help you cope with an unexpected fetal diagnosis
- Neonatologists who will initiate and oversee your baby’s NICU care
- Pediatric specialists—such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, or neurosurgeons—who may need to treat your baby soon after birth
You and your care team will discuss the best ways to keep you and your baby healthy. We’ll make decisions about things like:
- Whether you may need to be admitted to the hospital for around-the-clock monitoring
- If we should schedule an early delivery and, if so, at how many weeks gestation
- Whether it’s safe for you to have a vaginal delivery instead of a cesarean section (C-section)
- Whether an MFM specialist and/or neonatologist should attend your delivery
- What medical or surgical treatments your baby will need, and when
Connecting with you in your community
With several clinic locations in Southeast Iowa, we’ve made it easier for you to receive maternal-fetal care throughout your pregnancy.
We also offer virtual MFM consultations on a case-by-case basis. For example, a telemedicine visit could be an option for you if:
- Your pregnancy is considered high risk because of your age, but you’re otherwise healthy
- You’ve had a previous preterm delivery, but your current baby’s growth and development are normal
- You’re getting ready to start or expand your family, but you have a personal or family history of certain medical conditions
Maternal-fetal medicine tests and treatments
- Antepartum care
- Cervical cerclage
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
- Fetal echocardiogram
- Fetal MRI
- Fetal ultrasound
- Intrauterine transfusion
- Preconception counseling
- Prenatal genetic testing and counseling
- Nuchal translucency (NT) scan