What kind of doctor are you?
I am a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) physician, also known as a Perinatologist.
What is Maternal Fetal Medicine?
Maternal Fetal Medicine is the study of high-risk pregnancy. An MFM specialist is the ultimate expert in normal and abnormal pregnancies.
Pregnancies can be high risk due to:
maternal factors, like diabetes,
fetal factors, like Down syndrome, or
obstetrical factors, like placenta previa
How much training do you need to become a so-called pregnancy expert?
Undergrad 4 years
Medical school 4-6 years
Obstetrics and gynecology residency 4 years
Maternal fetal medicine fellowship 3 years
Total = 15 years after high school
What does an MFM specialist do?
MFM doctors diagnose complex conditions related to pregnancy and manage them.
What does an MFM practice look like?
· Ultrasound – an MFM specialist is the expert in reading Obstetrical Ultrasound and diagnosing fetal and placental abnormalities. We get extensive specialized training in OB ultrasound during fellowship. Unlike radiologists who specialize in fetal ultrasound, we also have the advantage of being able to not only diagnose but also can go right into the patient's room and counsel her about our findings and make a management plan.
· High risk clinic – most high risk pregnancies can be followed as an outpatient, but will generally require more involved visits with an MFM.
· Inpatient service – very high risk women admitted for high risk pregnancy conditions are managed by MFMs.
Practices differ. Some MFM's do labor and delivery, while others do not read ultrasound.
Do you perform procedures as an MFM physician?
Yes, I am a surgeon after all!
- CVS (chorionic villus sampling)
- Percutaneous blood sampling (PUBS) and intrauterine blood transfusion
- Vesico-amniotic shunts
- C section
- Cesarean hysterectomy
- D&C (dilation and curettage)
- D&E (dilation and evacuation)
SMFM gives specific examples in this article.
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