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At Atrium Health Women’s Institute, a facility of Carolinas Medical Center, our maternal fetal medicine (MFM) team is renowned for their experience and expertise in high-risk pregnancy care. MFM doctors, also called perinatologists, are OB/GYN doctors with advanced fellowship training in the diagnosis and management of complications in women and their unborn babies. When pregnancies are considered high risk, there is a greater chance that the baby or mother will experience problems, such as preterm labor or preeclampsia.

If you have certain medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension, a history of a complicated pregnancy or are currently experiencing pregnancy complications, we’re here to provide the highest level of care to you and your baby – during pregnancy and after delivery.

Patient care – what to expect

We use a team approach and the latest treatments to help our patients manage complicated or high-risk pregnancies. Here’s why patients choose us:

  • Personalized treatment plans. To create the very best plan for you, we take the time to fully understand your unique needs. We begin with a consultation to go over your medical history, review ultrasound findings and talk through any genetic or medical tests that may be needed. From there, we work with you to create a detailed plan for your pregnancy and delivery (sometimes including after delivery care). This plan is then shared with your OB/GYN doctor. 
  • Team approach. We work closely together and have weekly conferences to go over our cases, especially the more complicated ones, and determine how to provide the best care for our patients. Depending on the patient’s situation, we may also consult other specialists, such as neonatology and pediatric surgery to help coordinate a detailed delivery plan. 
  • Leading expertise. We are passionate about our work, and we each have individual areas of specialized expertise within our field. Because of our team’s deep expertise, the most complex cases, such as pregnant women with cardiac conditions, are often referred to us. We are also regularly named in Charlotte Magazine’s list of the Top Doctors in Charlotte. 
  • Award-winning care. We received the “Best Quality Improvement Initiative” award by The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses for our high-quality care in postpartum hemorrhage cases. 
  • Maternal safety bundles. To help manage preventable pregnancy complications, like obstetric hemorrhage and maternal venous thromboembolism (blood clot in a deep vein), we follow protocols that we developed, through our quality and safety committee. These safety bundles result in better patient outcomes. 
  • Breakthrough research. Our MFM doctors are heavily involved in clinical research projects, both here at Atrium Health and in collaboration with other institutions. Through our work, we’ve successfully improved patient outcomes, such as implementing new evidence-based protocols to further reduce infection rates after a C-section. 
  • Connected to the region’s top-ranked neonatology program. If you deliver with us and neonatology care (intensive care for newborn infants) is needed, you’ll be connected to Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, which is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children's Hospital in multiple specialties, including neonatology. Other recognized specialties include pediatric cardiology and pulmonology, which you will also be connected to if your baby needs further specialized care.

Conditions we treat

Patients are referred to us because of their maternal high-risk conditions and/or fetal high-risk conditions during pregnancy.

You may need our specialized care if you:

  • Are carrying a baby with a birth defect or congenital anomaly
  • Have a family history or previous child with birth defects or a genetic disorder
  • Have a history of pregnancy-related complications (preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc.)
  • Have a history of poor pregnancy outcomes (stillbirth, premature delivery, etc.)
  • Have a serious medical condition (heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.)
  • Have a multiple gestation (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Will be 35 years old or older at the time of delivery

Maternal fetal medicine treatments and services

We provide the highest level of care for high-risk pregnancies, from preconception counseling to carefully planned deliveries and every step in between.

Our treatments and services include:

  • Preconception counseling. If you’d like to understand how a medical condition, your pregnancy history, your age, or a family history of genetic disorders or birth defects might impact your pregnancy, preconception counseling may be a good option for you. 
  • MFM consultation. During your consultation, we’ll go over your medical history and any current or past pregnancy problems, perform a comprehensive ultrasound, and outline a plan for your pregnancy and delivery. 
  • Prenatal testing and procedures. To evaluate the health of the baby, mother and uterine environment, we offer a full spectrum of screening and diagnostic tests, including ultrasounds, first trimester screening with nuchal translucency, cell-free DNA testing, genetic carrier screening, transvaginal cervical length screening, amniocentesis, and chorionic villous sampling (CVS). In complicated fetal situations, we offer percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling, fetal transfusion and amnioreduction. 
  • State-of-the-art ultrasounds. We have advanced ultrasound equipment, and our sonographers are specially trained to evaluate you and your baby with precise attention to detail We offer a wide range of ultrasounds (imaging tests), including: 
    • Detailed ultrasound (level 2 ultrasound) is a comprehensive, detailed evaluation of fetal anatomy, growth and development.
    • Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to detect the movement of blood in vessels in order to study blood circulation in the fetus and placenta.
    • Fetal echocardiogram is a specialized ultrasound study that focuses on the heart structure, heart rhythm and blood flow through the fetal heart.
    • Transvaginal ultrasound is an ultrasound used to examine female reproductive organs to check for things like cervical insufficiency. 
  • Prenatal genetic counseling. Our board-certified genetic counselors evaluate potential genetic risks in pregnancy that can affect your unborn child. They also help you make informed decisions about genetic screening and testing. 
  • Intrauterine transfusion. This procedure may be recommended when a fetus has severe anemia (low red blood cell count). During the transfusion, red blood cells from a donor are injected into the fetus. 
  • Gestational diabetes care. Our MFM doctors and certified diabetes educators are here to help you manage your diabetes for the duration of your pregnancy. We offer classes and individual appointments to help educate you on diabetes care, including nutritional planning. 
  • Maternal cardiac care program. If you were born with a congenital heart defect or have developed a heart condition, you may need specialized cardiac care throughout your pregnancy. Our MFM doctors will monitor you and your baby closely while collaborating with cardiologists at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. This program is the only one of its kind in the Charlotte region. 
  • Maternal planning delivery program. While we provide delivery planning in most of our treatment plans, some patients require an extra layer of specialized monitoring and planning. These include patients who have had multiple abdominal surgeries in the past, placenta accreta spectrum disorder or a high BMI. 
  • Care after pregnancy. If you deliver with us and have a complicated delivery or a significant medical condition like hypertension, we’ll continue to monitor you closely until you and your baby are ready to be discharged. We’ll also make sure you’re connected to postpartum care.
Family standing on a sidewalk.

Kiki Brought Home the Ultimate Trophy Despite Complicated, High-Risk Pregnancy

Former track star, Kennetra (Kiki) Searcy had multiple issues that made her pregnancy high risk, including a post-partum hemorrhage with her first child and a miscarriage with her second. Thankfully, her third pregnancy and delivery was under the careful watch of Lorene Temming, MD, one of our MFM specialists.

Read more

Frequently asked questions

What makes a pregnancy high risk?

When a woman has one or more issues that raise her or her baby’s health risk during pregnancy or delivery, her pregnancy is considered to be high risk.

What types of conditions cause high-risk pregnancies?

Here are some of the most common conditions and issues we see in high-risk pregnancy patients:

  • Pregnancy after age 35
  • Pre-existing medical conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, cardiac conditions, autoimmune disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and kidney disease
  • Pregnancy-specific complications, like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, multiple gestations, and fetal anomalies and syndromes
  • A poor obstetric history, like stillbirth, pre-term birth or cervical insufficiency

What happens at your first maternal fetal medicine consultation?

We do a detailed review of your medical and pregnancy history, review any outside records from your OB/GYN or other medical doctors, and perform an ultrasound exam of the fetus. You’ll discuss all this information in detail with your MFM doctor, and they will work with you to make a plan of care for the remainder of the pregnancy and possibly for your delivery.

What are the effects of gestational diabetes on a baby?

Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can negatively impact your pregnancy and your baby’s health. Your baby may be at increased risk for breathing difficulties, low blood sugar (after delivery), early birth, still birth and a high birth weight. When you have an extra-large baby, you may need a C-section to deliver the baby, which can cause further complications for you and your baby.

Typically, gestational diabetes can be controlled by eating nutritious foods and getting regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.

Your extended care team

Our doctors, nurses and other specialists work together to understand your needs and create the best plan of care for you. Your team may include:

  • Certified diabetes nurse educators who teach you how to manage your diabetes through diet and monitoring and about the potential risks to you and your baby 
  • Genetic counselors who assess your personal and family history for genetic or inherited defects and conditions that could impact your baby 
  • Maternal fetal medicine doctors who provide specialized care to keep you and your baby healthy during your high-risk pregnancy and after delivery 
  • Maternal fetal medicine nurses who help MFM doctors monitor our highest risk patients and coordinate referrals to other specialists at Atrium Health 
  • Perinatal nurses who care for you throughout your pregnancy and delivery and offer guidance on a variety of matters, like prenatal health and postpartum issues 
  • Perinatal sonographers who perform ultrasounds for high-risk pregnancies and have specialized certifications in all the different types of ultrasounds we offer 
  • Registered dieticians who offer guidance and support to promote healthy weight gain and healthy growth for your baby

Our Providers

Our maternal fetal medicine doctors are passionate about what they do and are dedicated to helping you throughout one of the most important stages of your life. Meet our team.

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