Children's Hospital Colorado
Colorado Fetal Care Center
Colorado Fetal Care Center

Fetal Care Center FAQs

Before you visit the Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children's Hospital Colorado, you may have questions about what you can expect. Check out our fetal care center FAQs to get answers to your questions, including what you can expect from diagnosis, fetal interventions and recovery. You'll also find information on where to stay before and after your procedure.

Common maternal fetal medicine questions

Below you'll find answers to parents' common questions to give you the knowledge you need to feel confident and prepared when coming to our Center.

A maternal fetal medicine specialists (MFM) is a specially trained obstetrician who takes care of women managing complicated or high-risk pregnancies.

MFM physicians at the Colorado Fetal Care Center are also world-class fetal surgeons, treating both maternal and fetal health concerns before, during and after birth.

An MFM treats two patients at the same time: mother and baby. They tailor the testing, treatment and their care approach to the unique needs of the mom and each fetus.

Before pregnancy, your maternal fetal specialist can provide pre-conception counseling by reviewing your medical history and risk factors to determine the best approach to your pregnancy.

Once you're pregnant, your MFM will perform thorough diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, an ultrasound, a fetal echocardiogram, a fetal MR, genetic testing and an amniocentesis. Test results allow the doctor to look inside the womb and:

  • Diagnose and evaluate the developing fetus
  • Check the growth and development of your baby(s)
  • Confirm a suspected diagnosis made by your primary doctor
  • Detect fetal abnormalities, birth defects and chromosomal conditions

And during delivery, your MFM will work with high-risk OB hospitalists and any other specialist your baby will need upon delivery to provide quality, coordinated care.

Your primary OB may refer you to see one of our maternal fetal medicine specialists if:

  • You're managing a high-risk pregnancy
  • They suspect a fetal anomaly or condition

A pregnancy is high-risk when it threatens the health or life of a woman or her fetus. High-risk pregnancies may occur when:

  • A pregnant woman gets sick
  • A woman with an existing chronic condition gets pregnant
  • A woman is carrying more than one fetus
  • There are one or more maternal risk factors present, including obesity and young or old maternal age
  • The fetus develops a fetal anomaly or condition

Our MFMs perform fetal surgery if doing so could potentially correct a complication, minimize disability or prevent the loss of the fetus.

Fetal surgery isn't always a treatment option; there are specific conditions that we do fetal surgery for.

We treat virtually every known fetal anomaly, including:

See which fetal conditions we treat here.

If fetal surgery isn't necessary, but it's anticipated that your baby will need immediate care upon birth, we can design a delivery plan tailored to their needs.

Our Maternal Fetal Medicine Program ensures the most comprehensive care and that your baby will have every specialist they may need ready to care for them as soon as they're born.

Yes, you can still see your local doctor during your pregnancy. In fact, our specialists partner with referring providers by regularly sharing updates, imaging and test results with them. We keep your regular OB or MFM in the loop every step of the way, ensuring you and your baby are receiving the highest quality, coordinated care.

This way you can receive care close to home throughout your pregnancy.

Depending on the factors surrounding your unique high-risk pregnancy, you'll either deliver your baby right here or at a hospital close to home. You will partner with your Colorado Fetal Care Center care team and your referring provider to determine the best place for you to deliver your baby.

Babies are born at our fetal care center when it's anticipated that they will:

  • Need intervention by pediatric specialists or pediatric surgeons at birth or shortly after birth
  • Be admitted to the NICU, as most preemies and babies who had fetal anomalies do
  • Go to the CICU upon delivery, like the majority of babies with congenital heart defects do

Should you deliver your baby here, you'll do so in one of our specially designed labor or C-section suites surrounded by every pediatric subspecialist who will be necessary in the care of your baby upon birth.

By having a delivery plan in place, both mom and baby are set up for success.

Using advanced imaging technology, we perform specialized fetal diagnostic tests to make or confirm a diagnosis. Depending on your baby's suspected fetal anomaly, you'll undergo a combination of:

  • Fetal MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Amniocentesis
  • Diagnostic fetoscopy
  • Genetic testing
  • Fetal skin or muscle biopsy
  • Fetal blood sampling
  • Fetal echocardiogram

Yes, the fetal MRI is safe for you and your unborn baby. The MRI machine uses magnets to take pictures of the baby, not radiation. And because of our fetal MRI machine's advanced capabilities, we don't need to inject contrast to take the images.

Why do we have to do an ultrasound and an MRI? What is the difference?

  • An ultrasound is used to detect fetal congenital anomalies and evaluate the mother's uterine environment, including fluid levels and other concerns.
  • A fetal MRI is used to get a detailed image of the baby's anatomy.

We utilize an ultrasound and an MRI to get different perspectives of your baby and its environment. By obtaining multiple images, we can create a complete picture of your baby and the factors at play. The better the imaging, the better we can diagnose and treat a child's condition.

Our multidisciplinary team of maternal fetal medicine specialists, fetal cardiologists, radiologists, pediatric surgeons and subspecialists diagnose fetal conditions as quickly as possible – usually in a matter of hours.

This is because, on your first visit, you'll undergo extensive testing. Then, that same afternoon, you'll sit down with your care team to discuss the test results, diagnosis and treatment options.

This level of coordinated clinical collaboration matters when diagnosing a condition like twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), where time is critical. With TTTS, the sooner we're able to intervene, the better the chance of a positive outcome.

With a team of experts, state-of-the-art diagnostic testing, and advanced genetic testing and counseling, we're able to make timely and accurate diagnoses.

At the Colorado Fetal Care Center, we provide a clinical coordinator to guide you through the entire process, plus a specially trained clinical psychologist to provide emotional support and counsel.

Our fetal care center offers support services, including:

  • Genetic and prenatal counseling
  • Emotional support
  • Social work
  • Coping strategies
  • Decision-making skills
  • Risk assessment for postpartum mood or anxiety disorder
  • Palliative care
  • Bereavement support and services for parents if their baby may die before or shortly after birth

Common questions about coming to the Colorado Fetal Care Center

If you've been referred to our Center, you can rest assured that you're in the best of hands. Browse our fetal care center FAQs to prepare yourself for your first visit.

The Colorado Fetal Care Center is located within Children's Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

Enter through the separate entrance in the East Tower, east of the main hospital entrance. The main entrance to the hospital is located on the north side of Colfax about two blocks west of the I-225 exit. Take the elevator to the fourth floor, where the Colorado Fetal Care Center is located.

You can get directions and find detailed information on our fetal care center location here.

Patients, families and visitors can park 24 hours a day in the spots directly in front of the Colorado Fetal Care Center entrance or in Parking Lot #10, which is the surface lot across from the entrance.

Parking is free for patients and visitors with validation. Please validate your ticket at the Center information desk on the 4th floor. View the parking map (.pdf).

We also offer free valet parking. You'll find the valet stand at the front entrance of the hospital.

We welcome anyone you are comfortable with to attend the family meeting. These meetings are meant to provide information and answer questions for everyone involved in the care of mom and baby.

Yes. You're welcome to bring your children to your fetal echo, ultrasound and family meetings. However, kids are not allowed in the room during an MRI or fetal procedures.

It is always best to have another adult with you to assist in the care of your children.

The Creative Play Center is a free service sponsored by the Association of Volunteers of Children's Hospital Colorado. The Center provides a safe play environment for the children of our patients. Children must be 8 years of age or younger.

Parents must complete a sign-in form and remain in the hospital while the children are at the Center. The same parent must sign the child in and out of the center and present a photo ID.

Please visit the Creative Play Center page for information on hours, location and availability.

Fetal medicine FAQs: What to expect before the procedure

The days before undergoing surgery are often filled with anxiety. We're answering your most common fetal medicine questions so you can feel ready and reassured.

When you come to the Colorado Fetal Care Center, you should bring:

  • Your complete medical history information, including records from previous pregnancies and surgeries and any test results or ultrasound images your primary OB has performed
  • A list of your current medications, including any vitamins or herbal supplements
  • A list of questions you have for your care team
  • Someone to drive you and provide emotional support, such as a husband, partner or friend

If you're coming for a fetal intervention or fetal surgery, you should pack a suitcase filled with the necessities.

When going through fetal surgery, you'll need someone you can depend on by your side. This is an emotionally and physically taxing process, and you need someone to help you through it.

We recommend our patients have a caregiver who will stay with them while they're at the Colorado Fetal Care Center for treatment.

After open fetal surgery, you'll be on bed rest, so you'll need someone who is patient, dependable and supportive. Once you're discharged, you'll need someone who will take the place of your nurses at the Center.

One of the most common fetal medicine questions we receive is, "What should I pack for surgery?" In short, what you pack will depend upon the extent of your treatment. If your procedure requires you only stay overnight, you'll need a well-stocked overnight bag.

However, when undergoing open fetal surgery, you'll have to prepare yourself for an extended stay.

When staying at the Colorado Fetal Care Center after fetal surgery, we recommend you bring:

  • A list of all medications you currently take, including: prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements
  • Toiletries: While we supply basic toiletries, you'll appreciate having your own products.
  • Comfortable clothing that you can layer: Like all hospitals, the Center is kept cold to ward off bacteria. Bring loose fitting shirts and pants, sweaters and a scarf or pashmina to keep you warm and let doctors access your surgical site.
  • A few things that remind you of home, like a favorite photo or blanket
  • Slip-on shoes, such as flip flops or slippers, that you can easily slide on and off
  • Ear plugs and headphones to drown out the sounds of monitors and equipment
  • A u-shaped, airplane neck pillow: When you're upright in your hospital bed, these pillows help you sleep more comfortably.
  • A bathrobe to keep you warm and comfortable
  • Pen and paper: You'll want to jot down notes, questions to ask your doctors and perhaps document about your experience.
  • Something to keep you occupied while you recover, such as:
    • Your laptop
    • Your favorite movie
    • E-reader, books and magazines

We recommend you pack everything you need in wheeled luggage, so it's easy to transport your belongings between rooms.

We understand how difficult it is to decide upon a fetal treatment, which is why, in addition to our evidence-based medical recommendation, we also offer onsite psychosocial support.

Through compassionate counseling, our social workers and psychologists can help your family to better understand your diagnosis and provide effective tools for the decision-making process.

Ultimately, you, the patient, get to decide what treatment will be best for your family.

While we encourage support from family and friends, and our physicians create the most optimal care plan for each mom, each patient ultimately has the right to decide which treatment avenue is best for them.

The day before your procedure, you can eat and drink as you normally do, as long as you don't eat any food after midnight or in the eight hours before the procedure.

On the day of the fetal intervention, you may drink clear liquids up to two hours before your scheduled surgery time. When we say clear liquids, we mean:

  • Water
  • Sodas
  • Gatorade
  • 8 ounces of black coffee or tea (no milk, creamer or non-dairy creamer)
  • Pulp-free juices like apple or cranberry (any juice that you can see through)

Do not drink orange juice on surgery day.

We recommend you bring your photo ID and your health insurance or health plan card.

We work with your insurance carrier to determine if you are authorized to receive care at the Colorado Fetal Care Center.

If you are not, we will work with you and your referring provider to determine the next steps.

Health benefit coverage varies with each insurance company or employer group. Please refer to your insurance member handbook or call your insurance company with questions regarding coverage for specific services.

Learn more about insurance plans accepted by Children's Colorado and the Center. If you have questions about insurance, browse our FAQ about insurance, billing and payment.

Depending on your condition, you may have one support person – such as a partner, family member or friend – with you in the C-section suite.

Please discuss this with your care provider before your planned C-section to ensure your support person will be allowed into the surgery suite. This individual can also accompany the baby to the nursery and join you in the recovery room.

Yes. Unless otherwise indicated, most fetoscopic procedures are done under epidural anesthesia. This means that the lower part of your body will be numbed, but you will be awake during the procedure.

One of our expert maternal and fetal anesthesiologists will be at your side throughout the procedure, ensuring a comfortable procedure for you and your baby. The anesthesiologist can provide additional sedation as needed.

What to expect from recovery after the procedure

From recovery to relocation, we've answered your post-fetal care center FAQs so you can plan for the road ahead.

Our Center doesn't have visiting hours. You can have visitors 24/7 and you could have people stay in your room.

The length of your stay will vary according to the surgery you've undergone, such as:

  • Minimally invasive surgery: For minimally invasive fetal interventions, you'll most likely have to stay at the Center overnight. You'll be discharged the next day, but we recommend you stay close to our expert care for a few days. You'll have a follow-up appointment five days after the procedure.
  • Open fetal surgery: After undergoing open fetal surgery, we'll keep you at our Center for four days, so we can monitor you and your baby. You'll then stay local here in Denver for two weeks.
  • High-risk delivery: After delivering your child, we'll keep you in our Maternal Fetal Care Unit for about two days. If we delivered via C-section, you'll stay here, close to your baby and your dedicated care team for about four days. After delivery, you'll recover right down the hall from where your baby is recovering in our NICU or CICU. After being discharged, many parents end up staying in the NICU or CICU with their baby.

After a fetoscopic procedure, you'll stay overnight in the Maternal Fetal Care Unit at our fetal care center. You'll have to remain in Denver for approximately five days after fetoscopic procedures. This time frame will vary depending on each individual procedure.

As part of your care experience at the Colorado Fetal Care Center, you'll have a dedicated nurse coordinator for all of your logistical needs. Your coordinator or social worker can help arrange a place for you to stay if you need to remain in Denver after your procedure.

Patients often stay at the Ronald McDonald House or at a nearby hotel.

Learn what you can expect at your first maternal fetal care consultation and what other services your coordinator can provide.


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