As a mother of three girls, Noor Alam knew a thing or two about pregnancy. But when she and her husband found out she was pregnant at age 44 with their fourth child, 19 years after the birth of their first, she knew things would be a little different this time around.
“I think our biggest concern was having a healthy baby, especially considering my age,” remembers Alam. “We had some genetic testing done and when it came back normal, I think we both breathed a sigh of relief.”
Due to several factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes and advanced maternal age, Alam’s OB-GYN referred her for co-management with a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) physician. MFM physicians have specialized training for managing high-risk pregnancies along with fetal ultrasound and prenatal diagnostic testing and counseling.
“While an MFM physician may assume the full care of a high-risk pregnant patient, more often than not, we provide consultations or co-management of patients in conjunction with the care provided by their OB/GYN,” says Ndaya Muleba, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine physician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth who is affiliated with Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital.
Co-Managing Her Pregnancy Complications
Alam would be monitored by both Dr. Muleba and her OB/GYN throughout the course of her pregnancy. She says knowing she had two physicians gave her peace of mind. “Towards the end of my pregnancy, I experienced a few difficulties. It was nice to know both physicians were following my case and monitoring my medications as well as the wellbeing of both myself and my child,” says Alam. “When I would go in for an appointment, they had already spoken and had a plan in place for any changes in care that I might need.”
Alam says she was grateful to have a team of people closely watching her progress because she ended up needing an emergency cesarean section to deliver her son, Ibrahim, on Valentine’s Day at Memorial Hermann Cypress.
“I can definitely say it was the most unique Valentine’s Day my husband and I have ever had!” Alam says.
The Earlier, the Better for Treatment of High-risk Conditions
Dr. Muleba says it’s important for women with medical conditions affecting their pregnancy to initiate prenatal care as early as possible to optimize the treatment of any high-risk conditions that might be present and receive a consultation from a high-risk pregnancy specialist as early as possible.
“It’s important for women to take charge of their health. If you have a chronic health condition that may affect your pregnancy such as diabetes, obesity, prior preterm delivery, or you are over the age of 35, you should talk with your primary care provider about having a consultation with an MFM physician to address these issues,” says Dr. Muleba. “Seeking prenatal care early to address complications of pregnancy can help improve outcomes for both mother and baby.”
The Birthing Center at Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital offers a High-risk Pregnancy Clinic in association with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Women can receive a wide range of prenatal diagnostic testing, such as amniocentesis and DNA and enzyme analysis, preconception and genetic counseling, as well as specialized fetal care. A physician referral is required. For more information, call 346-231-4060.