Both obstetrics and gynecology are medical fields involved with the female reproductive system. While gynecology is concerned with women who aren’t pregnant, obstetrics focuses on the pregnant woman. A doctor of obstetrics, which is called an obstetrician, cares for their patients throughout pregnancy, helps deliver the baby and helps take care of both mother and child after the birth. An obstetrician will work with neonatologists and pediatricians to ensure the good health of the newborn.
An obstetrician may:
• Monitor the health of both the mother and the developing baby
• Advise the mother on how they can stay healthy
• Help the mother cope with pregnancy-related problems like morning sickness or back pain
• Test the baby for birth defects like Down Syndrome
• Diagnose and treat an ectopic pregnancy
• Deliver the baby
Throughout the pregnancy, the obstetrician can work with midwives, nurses and other doctors.
A high-risk pregnancy is one in which there is a greater-than-normal risk of complications for the mother and/or the developing baby. In many cases, the mother has a disorder or disease that increases the risk of something going wrong. Examples of such conditions include:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Kidney disease
Other situations that will require an obstetrician’s attention include:
• The mother has a multiple pregnancy
• The mother has miscarried three or more times
• The baby is known to have a birth defect
• The mother has had other children with birth defects
• The mother has a history of difficult pregnancies
The obstetrician monitors the process of labor and delivery. They will, for example, determine if labor has actually started and make the appropriate arrangements. In some cases, the obstetrician may decide to induce labor. They may decide to do this if the woman’s waters have broken, but she has not gone into labor within 24 to 48 hours later. Similarly, they may decide that a woman needs to have a Caesarean section.
The obstetrician may decide to administer pain medications during labor. They will also provide postpartum care for a set amount of time after birth.