Perinatologist is a term used to describe a specialist who provides care for pregnant women and their fetuses during the late stages of pregnancy and during labor and delivery. The term may also be used outside of the birth industry to describe a specialist in the care of premature or ill infants.
In addition, Perinatology is a relatively new medical specialty that combines the fields of Obstetrics and Neonatology. It is a sub-specialty of Pediatrics that focuses on the care of pregnant women and their fetuses during late pregnancy, labor, and delivery, as well as the care of premature or ill infants. Perinatologists typically have completed a 4-year residency in Pediatrics, followed by a 3-year fellowship in Perinatology. Some Perinatologists may also have additional training in Neonatology.
Compared to other similar terms, Perinatologist is most closely related to Obstetrician, which is a term used to describe a physician who specializes in the care of pregnant women and their fetuses. However, Obstetrician is not limited to the care of pregnant women during late stages of pregnancy and during labor and delivery, whereas Perinatologist is. Another similar term is Neonatologist, which is a physician who specializes in the care of newborn infants. Neonatologists may work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital, whereas Perinatologists typically do not.
This image shows how often the term ‘Perinatologist’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:
When should a Perinatologist be consulted?
A Perinatologist should be consulted if there are any concerns about the health of the pregnant woman or her fetus. Some of the conditions that may require consultation with a Perinatologist include:
- Preterm labor
- High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Complications with the placenta
- Birth defects
- Problems with the baby’s breathing or heart rate
- Labor that does not progress normally
- Post-term pregnancy (pregnancy that lasts beyond 42 weeks)
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