Role of Neonatologist in Perinatal Period by Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham

5 min read

Written by Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham

Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham

Role of Neonatologist in Perinatal Period

When it comes to pregnancy, there is more than just that 10 months or 40 weeks that needs medical attention. The baby and the mother need more care and close monitoring for more than just these few weeks. The baby needs monitoring right from the time of conception until after birth to ensure everything is on the right track. Through this article, let’s learn more about the importance of the perinatal period and the role of a neonatologist in perinatal period.

We are all aware of the pre-natal and post-partum periods. Do you know about the perinatal period? Did you know the health of both the mother and the baby is in a vulnerable state right from the time of conception until a few days after delivery? Here are a few important facts about what a perinatal period is.

In This Article

What is Perinatal Period?

Perinatal refers to the period from the beginning of the pregnancy until 12 – 24 months after the birth of the child. It encompasses both the prenatal and postpartum periods.

A pregnant woman and a growing baby undergo a lot of changes during this period. They require close monitoring and medical assistance from time to time, to ensure everything is on track.

The mother’s physical and mental health is as important as the baby’s health and growth during this period. Changes in weight, sleep deprivation, and depression are some of the more commonly known, yet overlooked changes a mother experiences.

What is the Role of a Neonatologist in Perinatal Period?

Role of Neonatologist in Perinatal Period

A neonatologist is a doctor who specializes in caring for a newborn baby. Yes, we have pediatricians who will take care of your baby from day one until they are an adult. However, a neonatologist is specialized in handling multiple risks that are a part of the newborn phase.

When a baby is born prematurely, meaning before they complete the 36th week of pregnancy, the possibilities for various complications are high. The baby’s organs may be underdeveloped, which may or may not lead to complications. Either way, the baby needs to be carefully and closely monitored and a neonatologist who specializes in this. They are the first line of support for you and your baby before and immediately after your baby’s birth.

A role of neonatologist during perinatal period is to take care of the following aspects of your newborn:

Perinatal asphyxia is a condition where the baby does not inhale the required amount of oxygen during the birthing process.

If there are any issues or complications during the birthing process, it is the responsibility of the neonatologist to closely monitor the baby and coordinate with the relevant medical professionals or team to address the issues.

Prenatal Consultations

A neonatologist does not take care of your baby only after birth but will be with you even during your pregnancy. Many women face various complications or unique situations during their pregnancies. They will need medical counselling to help them make an informed decision. This is where a neonatologist comes in.

A neonatologist will provide valuable information for the expecting parents, to help them make well-informed difficult decisions regarding the pregnancy. They can help in identifying certain complications even before the baby is born. In such cases, the baby is termed as high risk and is closely monitored during and after delivery.

Diagnose and Treat Illnesses

After the birth of the baby, a neonatologist will perform various tests and check various parameters to ensure the baby is healthy and safe from any complications. In case of preterm delivery or other complications, the neonatologist will help in diagnosing the possible health issue.

They will also coordinate with the respective doctors to ensure the baby’s illness is treated. It is their responsibility to follow up and check on the baby from time to time, to ensure the baby is on the right track to improvement.

As the neonatal stage is the riskiest period after birth, it is important to keep a close watch on the baby. Sometimes, complications can present themselves a few days after birth. A neonatologist will take care of this too.

Respiratory Therapy

As mentioned earlier, a newborn can have respiratory issues due to underdeveloped lungs or inadequate oxygen intake. If this is not attended to at the earliest, it can cause a chemical imbalance in the baby’s body, leading to various other complications. This is common in both preterm and full-term babies.

A neonatologist is responsible for deciding whether the baby requires non-invasive or invasive help to recuperate from this respiratory issue. Sometimes, a newborn just requires more oxygen, which can be given through an oxygen mark in an incubator. If the issue is severe, your baby might require ventilator support to take over the breathing until the baby is able to take in adequate oxygen and the baby’s breathing stabilizes.

In severe cases, intubation may be required. A neonatologist is well-trained and educated in these areas to handle such emergencies.

When Do You Need to Consult a Neonatologist?

You may have to consult a neonatologist if you suspect an issue with your baby. This can happen before or just after birth.

1. Before Birth

You may have to consult a neonatologist before the birth of your baby in the following situations:

  • The baby’s development is not up to the expectations, as per the scan results
  • Baby seems to be underweight
  • There is a history of birth defects or complications in previous pregnancies.

2. During and After Birth

You will need to consult a neonatologist when your baby is

  • Underweight
  • Born preterm
  • Unable to breathe properly or shows signs of other respiratory issues
  • Shows symptoms of other life-threatening medical issues.

Any time the fetus or the newborn shows signs or symptoms of any medical issues, you can consult a neonatologist. They will conduct tests or take relevant scans to determine what could possibly be wrong with the baby and diagnose based on the results.

What Type of Consultations Do Neonatologists Provide?

Consultations Neonatologists Provide

A neonatologist generally provides the following type of consultations and treatments:

  • Check your newborn and diagnose birth defects or conditions like breathing disorders or birth defects.
  • Treat the baby for whatever complication diagnosed.
  • Communicate and coordinate with other doctors or specialists and ensure the baby is getting the right treatment.
  • Closely monitor and ensure preterm babies and babies with birth complications receive sufficient nutrition for growth and development.
  • Consult with other specialists to discuss the complications or conditions affecting a newborn baby.
  • Follow-up care after the baby’s discharge from the NICU or hospital.

Where Can I Find a Neonatologist?

You can find a neonatologist in most children’s hospitals. Ensure you check beforehand if the hospital you are considering for your baby’s delivery has a neonatal department. In case of complications during or after the delivery, you cannot carry your newborn baby and run from one hospital to another searching for a neonatologist. Timing is very crucial.

If you require a neonatologist before the delivery or after getting discharge from the hospital, ask your pediatrician or family doctor. They should be able to guide you in finding the right neonatologist consulting in a well-equipped medical institution.

A neonatologist is an important part of your entire pregnancy and birthing process. They will provide medical consultations and support to diagnose, treat and manage your baby’s health issues. A neonatologist is the first pediatrician, so they are well qualified to take care of your baby throughout the perinatal period.

Read Also: Helping A Low Birth Weight Baby by Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham

Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham,MBBS, MD (Pediatrics)
DM (Neonatology), Lead Neonatology and NICU Services
Aster Women & Children's Hospital
17 years of experience

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