Obstetricians are medically trained physicians with specialised knowledge of the female reproductive organs, pre-pregnancy health, the stages of pregnancy, labour and childbirth, postnatal care, genetics, and counselling.
All obstetricians are also trained in gynaecology as the two overlap in many ways. While all doctors can deliver babies, many women opt to have an obstetrician (who would also be their gynaecologist) take care of them during pregnancy, and during and after childbirth.
What Do Obstetricians Do?
Before Your Pregnancy
If you see your gynaecologist regularly, you will likely have sought advice from them regarding pregnancy, and referred to them regarding any issues you have had with getting pregnant.
Your obstetrician can help you plan for pregnancy and will offer advice on adjusting your lifestyle, nutrition, vaccinations, weight, fertility issues and emotional wellbeing.
See more on obstetric care before your pregnancy here.
During Your Pregnancy
Your obstetrician will be there throughout every stage of your pregnancy, guiding you through the changes your body will undergo and the development of your baby.
Your first appointment will likely be scheduled 8-10 weeks into your first trimester, unless you have any concerns about your baby or if it is a high-risk pregnancy.
During your pregnancy your obstetrician will monitor your health and the development of your baby with routine check-ups, ultrasounds, and tests such as an amniocentesis to determine your baby’s sex and identify genetic abnormalities.
They can help tailor diet and exercise programs, and advise you on staying healthy and ensuring levels for key nutrients, such as folic acid and iodine, are being met.
Your obstetrician will also be able to help with morning sickness, heartburn, headaches, and the aches and pains that are common throughout pregnancy.
As childbirth approaches, they will advise you on labour and what to expect, and devise your birth plan, including who you would like there while you give birth, pain relief, how you should prepare and ensuring any questions or concerns are clarified.
See more on obstetric care during your pregnancy here.
During and After Childbirth
Either your obstetrician or a midwife will have an active role managing your labour and monitoring your health during labour, and will ensure all is well with you and your baby throughout the entire process.
If any complications may arise, they will be able to counsel you and your partner about the options available and what actions may be taken. If a caesarean birth is necessary, your obstetrician will perform the surgery.
You obstetrician will also advise you on pain relief and the different natural or medicinal options available.
After about 6 week after you give birth an appointment will be scheduled for a postnatal checkup.
Risks and Conditions
Although other doctors and midwives can deliver your baby, it is important to seek specialised care from a obstetrician:
• If you are over 35
• If you suffer from any chronic health conditions
• If your pregnancy is high-risk
• If you are carrying multiple babies
• If you have a history of complications with pregnancy (such as miscarriage or caesarean)
Your obstetrician can also treat complications or conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, fetal distress, preeclampsia or placental abruption.
When Should You See Your Obstetrician
You should see your obstetrician before you are thinking of getting pregnant as they can help you plan for your pregnancy.
It is important to schedule an appointment soon after finding out you are pregnant in order to get the best prenatal care.
You should also see your obstetrician for postnatal care, as they can provide you with guidance regarding contraception, help clarify any questions you have about your pregnancy, and offer advice on postpartum depression or other health concerns.