Fetal medicine

Specialty of Obstetrics & gynaecology

What is foetal (fetal) medicine?

Foetal/fetal medicine, or maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) focuses on managing health concerns which a mother and foetus may experience before, during, and immediately after pregnancy. Fetal medicine is also referred to as perinatology. Fetal medicine specialists are obstetricians/gynaecologists who later train in how to assess and manage high-risk pregnancies. These specialists have an advanced knowledge of complications in pregnancy, be they medical, surgical, or genetic.

Which conditions are treated through fetal medicine specialists?

Fetal medicine specialists are specialised in high-risk pregnancy, which means any condition or any situation which threatens the health or life of the mother or the foetus can be treated by a fetal medicine specialist. Some of the following conditions will be monitored and treated by a fetal medicine specialist:

  • Existing conditions such as HIV, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes
  • Complications from previous pregnancies, e.g pre-eclampsia, pre-term births
  • Problems with the foetus e.g birth defects
  • Multiple gestation – twins, triplets, or other multiples

When should you see a fetal medicine specialist?

If you are aware that you have an existing condition while either trying to conceive, or once pregnant, you should discuss this with your doctor who will refer you on to the correct specialist. Your doctor will also refer you on to a fetal medicine specialist if they deem it necessary during pregnancy.

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