Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect when seeing you for pregnancy and delivery care?

You can expect to receive high-quality care that’s tailored to your precise needs, giving you the best chance at an excellent outcome for you and your baby. Because we are part of a world-class academic and research center—Stanford School of Medicine—we actively train the next generation of medical leaders, including medical students, residents, and fellows at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. For you, this simply means more great minds coming together on your care, which is guided by your selected obstetrician or maternal-fetal medicine doctor (if you have a high-risk pregnancy). Being a teaching hospital and a research center also means we are on the cutting edge of fertility, pregnancy, fetal, newborn, and pediatric research and care advances, ensuring that you and your baby receive the latest, greatest care available.

What does “high-risk pregnancy” mean?

High-risk pregnancy means anything beyond a routine pregnancy or delivery. Simply put, if you have any kind of underlying health condition, you might be considered high risk. It’s best to talk with your obstetrician about any conditions that might affect your pregnancy and possibly result in complications. If this is the case, your obstetrician will refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine doctor or high-risk obstetrician.

High risk pregnancy also refers to any problems with you, your fetus, or your pregnancy, including placental problems. The following conditions are some of the most common conditions that are considered high risk in pregnancy:

  • Complex preexisting diabetes.
  • Cancer.
  • Blood clots.
  • Lupus and other rheumatologic disease.
  • Infectious diseases such as viral hepatitis.
  • Heart disease.
  • Chronic high blood pressure.
  • Organ transplant.
  • Past miscarriages, premature baby, or placental problems.
  • A fetus with birth defects, poor growth, and other problems.

For complex fetal and placental abnormalities, we partner with our Fetal and Pregnancy Health Program to provide you with the best possible care.

What happens if I have a high-risk pregnancy?

When you come to us for high-risk pregnancy care, you will receive care from maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) doctors who are experts in caring for pregnant women with high-risk conditions. Additionally, you will have access to other top specialists via our Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services and within our greater Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and Stanford Health Care (adult hospital) community. You and your baby will receive the advanced tailored care that you need, helping you have a successful pregnancy and your baby the best possible start in life. Throughout your pregnancy, you can expect to receive extra monitoring to make sure that you and your baby remain healthy and to catch any health changes early. Should you want us to provide you with an evaluation, your obstetrician can send us a referral by fax at (650) 498-2583 or by calling us at (650) 509-5686.

You specialize in high-risk pregnancy—why should I come to you for general obstetric care and a routine birth?

Simply put: experience; compassionate, patient- and family-centered care; and deep expertise.

We take pride in providing all-encompassing care for mothers and babies looking beyond the pregnancy or a particular health condition, in an emphatic way. At Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, we care for the whole patient and their family.

We have unparalleled experience and expertise in caring for pregnant women and their babies. Annually, we deliver more than 4,600 babies, and we care for women with all types of pregnancies – both routine and high-risk or complex.

While we hope and expect your pregnancy, labor, and delivery to be uneventful, with us you have the added reassurance of our exceptional reputation and many experts to handle any unexpected surprise for you or your baby. Our specialized, advanced care services include but are not limited to high-risk pregnancy care, expert fetal care, advanced neonatology care, and specialty pediatric care, such as pediatric heart care, should your baby need it.

Do you support vaginal births, even for high-risk pregnancies?

Yes, even for our expectant mothers with health concerns, such as diabetes and heart disease, we strive, when possible and safe, to achieve a vaginal delivery. In fact, we are leading the charge in California, and being a founder of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, we’ve made it our mission to support vaginal births and reduce first-birth cesareans. Even though we see a large number of women with complex, high-risk pregnancies, we still have low cesarean delivery rates.