Maternal-Fetal Medicine Appointment

What to Expect at Your First Maternal-Fetal Medicine Appointment

With all the planning and excitement around your pregnancy, the words “high-risk” and “maternal-fetal medicine specialist” probably come as quite a shock. 

If your OB-GYN recently referred you to maternal-fetal medicine, you may have some questions about what to expect. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss:

  • What to expect at your first MFM visit
  • The process of establishing a diagnosis (if your primary OB-GYN did not already determine that)
  • Questions to ask along the way 

Nobody plans for a high-risk pregnancy, but the specialized care you’ll receive through an MFM specialist can give you the best care you and your baby need during this time. 

What Is Maternal-Fetal Medicine? 

Maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) is a subspeciality of obstetrics that focuses on high-risk pregnancies. Doctors in this field are OB-GYNs trained to care for pregnant women and their unborn children during pregnancies in which the mother, baby or both are at high risk of complications. 

If your regular doctor or OB-GYN determines you or your baby need specialized care, they may refer you to an MFM specialist for testing and care throughout the remainder of your pregnancy. This does not mean you cut off contact with your OB-GYN. 

Depending on your condition and the circumstances of your pregnancy, you may see an MFM specialist for the high-risk aspects of your pregnancy and continue to check in with your OB-GYN for more routine prenatal care. 

What to Expect at Your First MFM Appointment

Walking into your first appointment with an MFM specialist can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Each person’s experience will vary because no two pregnancies are the same, but you can expect a few things when visiting your MFM doctor for the first time.  

1. Health History

Your first visit to your MFM doctor will likely resemble that of any new provider. You will be asked questions about your health history and thoroughly examined for current health and previous pregnancy-related complications. 

2. Diagnostic Testing

Your MFM specialist will likely order a range of tests to confirm your baby’s diagnosis or get a clearer picture of what led to your referral. Some of these tests may include: 

  • Fetal MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Fetal echocardiogram
  • Genetic testing

3. Meeting the Team

In addition to your MFM doctor, you may be referred to specialists in fetal surgery, neonatal surgery, genetic counseling, anesthesia, fetal cardiology, radiology, nursing and neonatal medicine. Your team will also include nurses and social workers who work with you to coordinate all aspects of your care — from diagnosis to postoperative recovery and long-term follow-up for you and your child.

Learn more: Who’s On Your High-Risk Pregnancy Team?

4. Treatment Planning

Once all the testing is finished, your care team will come up with a treatment plan for you and your baby. The plan will include recommendations on any interventions, including any medical or surgical procedures that may be necessary as you work toward the goal of a healthy and safe delivery. You’ll go over your plan in depth in follow-up visits with your team. 

Your Role in Your First MFM Appointment

You’ll have time to discuss your concerns, fears and questions during your visit. It’s natural to feel anxious and uncertain. While the doctor may not be able to give you concrete answers to all of your questions, it’s important that you feel heard and understood throughout. Here are a few tips as you plan for your first visit: 

1. Actively Participate

Remember, you are the most important member of your care team. You are also the authority on your own body. Answer health history questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible. The more information your team has, the better they can care for you and your baby. 

2. Ask Questions

There are no stupid questions. Your team does this every day, but it may be your first time living through a high-risk pregnancy. A compassionate care team will listen to your questions and concerns and offer the best answers. 

Download: Eight Questions to Ask Your Maternal-Fetal Medicine Doctor

3. Follow Up

If you don’t understand something or need it explained differently, ask follow-up questions until you do. Your team may have written resources or videos that can help you understand certain conditions or diagnoses.

4. Advocate for Yourself 

You have a right to respectful, thorough and collaborative care. Studies show that self-advocacy strengthens patient health care experiences. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find a provider who listens, affirms your experiences and communicates treatment with you, but it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby. 

What to Look For in Your Maternal-Fetal Medicine Team

Your health care team should recognize that high-risk pregnancy affects every aspect of your life. Your maternal-fetal medicine specialist should: 

  • Listen to you without interrupting 
  • Use language you understand and clarify if needed
  • Invite and listen to your questions
  • Take your concerns seriously
  • Offer thorough explanations as appropriate (and desired)
  • Provide reassurance and guidance as necessary
  • Clearly communicate all of your options regarding treatment and care
  • Be open to communicating with other health care providers upon request
  • Work with you and for you to provide the best care for you and your family

If your first experience with a high-risk pregnancy center or doctor isn’t serving you, find one that will. 

Learn more: How to Advocate for Yourself During Your High-Risk Pregnancy

5. Follow Your Treatment Plan

Ensure you understand your treatment plan and follow up with additional visits and recommendations. If questions arise or you’re uncertain about the right course of action, call your care team. 

After Your First Visit

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to high-risk pregnancy. Your team may not be able to give concrete answers to all your questions or calm every anxiety about the coming months of your pregnancy. But when you walk away from your first visit, you can expect to feel heard, understood and encouraged. 

Even if the news is hard and the road ahead is uncertain, your maternal-fetal medicine team is on your side and walking with you every step of the way. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *