John and Nicole Bute with daughters Aibhlinn and Abigail

SLUCare maternal-fetal specialists deliver expertise for high-risk pregnancies

Pictured: John and Nicole Bute with daughters Aibhlinn and Abigail

The usual stresses of having a baby are challenging enough without the added worry of a high-risk pregnancy. That is why so many women turn to SLUCare Physician Group's Maternal-Fetal Medicine team.

"We receive patients from all over the area, including southern Illinois," says Dr. Dorothea Mostello, SLUCare obstetrician/gynecologist at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital and part of the team.

There are many reasons for a pregnancy to be termed ‘high-risk.' Each mother's age and health form a unique set of needs, Mostello says, so a network of highly trained care providers is required, helping to ensure safe deliveries and healthy mothers.

Common high-risk factors include preeclampsia (a life-threatening condition involving high blood pressure and organ damage), premature labor, maternal and gestational diabetes, mothers with addiction disorders, multiple births, abnormal bleeding and fetal problems, says Mostello.

John and Nicole Bute of Lebanon, Illinois, credit the SLUCare team with helping them become parents after a decade of frustration. Nicole's pregnancy with twins Aibhlinn and Abigail came with several high-risk challenges — she was older than 35, she'd experienced bleeding, the structure of her cervix was failing, and she had placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta breaks away from the uterus. Nicole was admitted to SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital twice as a result of her complications; her care included a cervical cerclage procedure to keep labor from beginning too early. She then was put on bed rest at home until the twins were born at the hospital at 25 weeks.

"I don't think you typically find all my complications together in one case, but the SLUCare team did a great job of keeping us calm and informed," Nicole notes. She says she appreciated the attentive care and high level of communication shown by Mostello and the other maternal-fetal team members. "The doctors knew all my history, and were very easy to work with," she says. "That's important when you're feeling panicked about your babies. Without SLUCare's help, I don't think our daughters would be here with us." Nicole is expecting again, in fact, and says she has returned to the SLUCare team.

Mostello says the uncertainty of a high-risk pregnancy is often the most difficult hurdle for the mother, especially if it's not clear when delivery might happen. "Our nurses are very good at helping patients get through it one day at a time," she says. There are craft programs and other activities to help moms pass their time in the hospital, and families can hold baby showers in a conference room there if needed.

Mostello says the goal is to monitor each situation carefully, and keep the pregnancy as close to full term as possible for the health of both the mother and baby. "Our nurses often write motivational messages on the patient-room white boards," she says. "They say things like, ‘Stay pregnant!'"

SLUCare Physician Group's Maternal-Fetal Medicine team provides specialized care for patients with high-risk pregnancies. For more information, call (314) 977-4123 or visit www.slucare.edu/savingbabies.

This article originally appeared in Town & Style magazine.

By: Julia M. Johnson