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Maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy care)

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you want the right care team on your side. Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists, or high-risk pregnancy doctors, specialize in managing potential risks and safely delivering your baby.

Caring for your high-risk pregnancy

When you have a high-risk pregnancy, you or your baby face challenges or have conditions that raise your risk for complications. If your doctor has called your pregnancy “high risk,” the extra care you need is right here.

A maternal-fetal medicine specialist or perinatologist — an OBGYN with additional training in managing high-risk pregnancies — will monitor you closely to make sure you and your baby stay healthy.

When to see a maternal-fetal medicine doctor

Factors that increase your chances of having a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Your age — if you’re under 17 or over 35
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, taking illegal or unprescribed drugs and drinking alcohol while pregnant
  • Medical conditions before pregnancy such as high blood pressure; diabetes; lung, kidney or heart problems; sexually transmitted infections (STIs); a history of miscarriage or issues with a previous pregnancy
  • Medical conditions that develop during pregnancy such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
  • Additional pregnancy-related issues including:
    • Premature labor
    • Carrying multiples (twins or triplets)
    • Placenta previa
    • Fetal development issues

Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll have complications with your pregnancy. However, the more risk factors you have, the more likely you and your baby will be at risk during pregnancy and birth. Your doctor can make a care plan tailored to your needs.

High-risk pregnancy services

Your maternal-fetal medicine team is trained to manage risks and keep your baby healthy.

To closely monitor your high-risk pregnancy, your specialist might recommend tests, procedures and other support beyond routine prenatal screening tests. These may include:


A thin needle is inserted into your abdomen and into the amniotic sac to remove fluid for testing. The fluid in the amniotic sac contains cells shed by your baby that can be evaluated to determine whether they may have a chromosomal condition.

Safe, high-frequency sound waves produce images of your baby that can help your specialist detect any abnormalities in your baby’s development.
Fetal echocardiogram

Typically performed during the second trimester and like an ultrasound, this test allows your specialist to see the structure and function of your baby’s heart.
Genetic screening and counseling

Your specialist uses a blood test and ultrasound to determine the probability that your baby will have a genetic disorder. Genetic counselors can help you understand and manage the results. Learn more about genetic testing during pregnancy.
E-visits with your specialist

If traveling to a nearby clinic or hospital isn’t easy for you, you can video conference with your specialist.
Emotional care and support

Having a high-risk pregnancy can be stressful. That’s why we have a team ready to support you and your family. Learn more about pregnancy tools and resources.

High-risk pregnancy care at Geisinger

When you need extra care during your pregnancy, you can count on us. We offer:

  • The knowledge you need – Your high-risk pregnancy team includes maternal-fetal medicine doctors, neonatal intensive care specialists, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, breastfeeding specialists and other support staff — all here to help you manage your pregnancy and treat potential complications.
  • Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive high-risk pregnancy care for you and your little one. 
  • Newborn services – From skin-to-skin bonding and nutritional support to our network of NICUs and neonatal specialists, we’re ready to provide the very best care the moment your baby arrives. Learn more about newborn services.
  • Specialized prenatal care center – Our Center for Prenatal Pediatrics provides care for moms and babies facing potential complications before and during delivery.
  • More than just physical care – Whether you need mental health or emotional support, have an addiction or need breastfeeding support, we’re here for you every step of the way.
  • Positive birthing experience – The birthing suites at Geisinger hospitals are comfortable, large and homey, designed so you can focus on what really matters. Learn more about labor and delivery.
  • Support groups and parenting classes – Families have access to a wealth of programs including pregnancy and childbirth classes, pregnancy support groups, behavioral health support and other resources and services.
  • Nationally accredited NICUs – If your newborn requires a higher level of care, they’ll be cared for in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our NICUs are staffed 24/7 by neonatologists, neonatal advanced practitioners, neonatal nurses and respiratory therapists. See our NICU locations.