What Does An Obstetrician Do?
An obstetrician is a specialist who provides medical care and intervention during a patient's pregnancy and birth. They are doctors with additional training in the management of complex pregnancies and births and can carry out certain surgical procedures, such as caesareans. You may be referred to an obstetrician if you meet certain criteria or experience a complication during pregnancy, or you can opt to have a private obstetrician for the duration of your pregnancy. If you are under the care of an obstetrician, you typically won't be seen by a community midwife during your pregnancy. A GP or midwife can refer a woman to an obstetrician for a number of reasons including the presence of an underlying medical condition that could cause complications in pregnancy or labour, a history of miscarriages or having a pregnancy later in life.
During your pregnancy, your obstetrician will closely monitor you and your developing baby's health. This may mean you have regular check-ups, blood tests and growth scans. Your obstetrician will monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar, the position of the placenta and your baby's development. If necessary, they will liaise with any specialists you see for a pre-existing health condition, as it is sometimes necessary to alter medications you are prescribed. They will also recommend a birth plan that takes the safety of you and your baby into consideration, and the specifics of this will depend on your individual circumstances. For examples, they may recommend an elective C-section a week or so before your due date, and they may recommend you have a course of corticosteroids before your baby is born to help their lungs mature. Your obstetrician can also prescribe supplements, such as intravenous iron infusions, if required.
Labour And Birth
Obstetricians carry out C-sections and they are also there to manage any complications that arrive during a vaginal birth. For example, they can perform an episiotomy if vaginal labour is taking too long and your baby may be at risk. This involves making a surgical incision between the vaginal opening and the anus, which speeds up delivery. Your obstetrician will oversee your inpatient care after you deliver your baby and you will have a follow-up appointment with them a few weeks after the birth of your baby to ensure you are recovering well.
If you'd like to learn more about obstetric care and how you may benefit from seeing an obstetrician, speak to your GP.