What does an obstetrician do?

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What is an Obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the management of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. These healthcare professionals are trained to provide comprehensive care for pregnant individuals, ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing fetus throughout the stages of pregnancy.

In addition to providing prenatal care, obstetricians oversee the labor and delivery process, either in hospital settings, birthing centers, or home births, depending on the preferences and medical needs of the pregnant individual. They also provide postpartum care to ensure the health and recovery of the mother following childbirth, addressing any complications or concerns that may arise in the immediate postpartum period.

What does an Obstetrician do?

An obstetrician taking a pregnant woman's blood pressure.

Duties and Responsibilities
Obstetricians have a wide range of duties and responsibilities related to the management of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care, such as:

  • Prenatal Care: Obstetricians provide comprehensive prenatal care to pregnant individuals, which involves monitoring the health of both the mother and the developing fetus throughout the stages of pregnancy. They conduct regular prenatal visits to assess fetal growth and development, monitor maternal health and well-being, screen for pregnancy-related complications or medical conditions, and provide guidance on nutrition, exercise, and prenatal testing options.
  • Labor and Delivery Management: Obstetricians oversee the labor and delivery process, managing childbirth in hospital settings, birthing centers, or home births, depending on the preferences and medical needs of the pregnant individual. They monitor the progress of labor, assess maternal and fetal well-being through continuous fetal monitoring and maternal vital sign assessment, provide pain relief measures such as epidurals or other analgesics, and guide the pregnant individual through the stages of labor and delivery.
  • Medical Interventions: Obstetricians are trained to perform medical interventions as needed during labor and delivery to ensure the safety and well-being of both the mother and the baby. This may include performing cesarean sections (C-sections) in cases of fetal distress, maternal complications, or other medical indications, as well as using instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors to assist with vaginal deliveries when necessary.
  • Postpartum Care: Following childbirth, obstetricians provide postpartum care to monitor the health and recovery of the mother and provide support for breastfeeding, newborn care, and postpartum recovery. They assess maternal physical and emotional well-being, address any complications or concerns that may arise in the immediate postpartum period, and provide guidance on contraception, family planning, and postpartum follow-up care.
  • Management of Pregnancy Complications: Obstetricians are trained to diagnose and manage various pregnancy-related complications and medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abnormalities, preterm labor, and fetal growth restriction. They collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, and obstetric anesthesiologists, to develop and implement comprehensive treatment plans for high-risk pregnancies and complex medical conditions.

Types of Obstetricians
Obstetrics is a specialized field within medicine, and there are different types of obstetricians who may focus on specific areas or aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. Some examples include:

  • Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists: Maternal-fetal medicine specialists, also known as perinatologists, are obstetricians who have completed additional fellowship training in maternal-fetal medicine. They specialize in managing high-risk pregnancies and complex medical conditions that may affect pregnancy outcomes, such as maternal medical conditions, multiple gestations, fetal anomalies, genetic disorders, and complications of pregnancy such as preeclampsia or preterm labor.
  • Obstetric Anesthesiologists: Obstetric anesthesiologists are medical doctors who specialize in providing anesthesia and pain management services to pregnant individuals during labor and delivery. They administer epidural anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, or other pain relief techniques to manage labor pain and ensure the comfort and safety of the mother during childbirth. Obstetric anesthesiologists also provide anesthesia for cesarean sections and other obstetric procedures.
  • Obstetric Hospitalists: Obstetric hospitalists are obstetricians who work primarily in hospital settings, providing care for pregnant individuals admitted to the hospital for labor and delivery, pregnancy-related complications, or obstetric emergencies. They collaborate with other members of the healthcare team, including labor and delivery nurses, midwives, anesthesiologists, and neonatologists, to manage labor, perform deliveries, and provide immediate medical care to pregnant individuals in the hospital setting.
  • Obstetric Ultrasound Specialists: Some obstetricians specialize in performing and interpreting obstetric ultrasound examinations to evaluate fetal development, monitor pregnancy progression, and diagnose fetal abnormalities or pregnancy complications. Obstetric ultrasound specialists may work in hospital-based ultrasound departments, perinatal imaging centers, or maternal-fetal medicine clinics, collaborating with other obstetricians and healthcare providers to provide comprehensive prenatal care.

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What is the workplace of an Obstetrician like?

The workplace of an obstetrician can vary depending on their specific role, practice setting, and patient population. Obstetricians may work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, private practices, academic medical centers, birthing centers, and community health clinics. Regardless of the setting, the workplace of an obstetrician typically revolves around providing comprehensive care to pregnant individuals throughout the stages of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery.

In hospital settings, obstetricians often work in labor and delivery units or maternity wards, where they oversee the management of labor, perform deliveries, and provide immediate medical care to pregnant individuals and newborns. They collaborate closely with labor and delivery nurses, midwives, obstetric anesthesiologists, neonatologists, and other members of the healthcare team to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby during childbirth. Obstetricians may also work in obstetric emergency departments, where they provide urgent medical care to pregnant individuals experiencing obstetric emergencies or complications.

In private practice settings, obstetricians may have their own solo practices or work as part of a group practice with other obstetricians, gynecologists, midwives, and healthcare professionals. They provide prenatal care, conduct routine prenatal visits, perform deliveries, and provide postpartum care to pregnant individuals in outpatient clinic settings. Private practice obstetricians may also have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, allowing them to admit patients for labor and delivery or manage obstetric complications that require hospitalization.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician

Gynecologist vs Obstetrician

Gynecologists and obstetricians are both medical doctors who specialize in women's reproductive health, but they focus on different aspects of care. Here are the key differences between gynecologists and obstetricians:

Gynecologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions and disorders related to the female reproductive system, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. They provide preventive care, such as well-woman exams, Pap smears, and screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Gynecologists also diagnose and manage gynecological conditions such as menstrual disorders, pelvic pain, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and menopause-related symptoms. They may perform gynecological surgeries, such as hysterectomies, oophorectomies, tubal ligations, and minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopy and hysteroscopy.

Obstetricians specialize in the management of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. They provide prenatal care to pregnant individuals, monitor fetal growth and development, and manage pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm labor. Obstetricians oversee labor and delivery, perform vaginal deliveries and cesarean sections (C-sections), and provide immediate medical care to pregnant individuals and newborns during childbirth. They also provide postpartum care to ensure the health and recovery of the mother following childbirth.

While gynecologists and obstetricians have distinct areas of focus, many medical professionals practice both disciplines and are referred to as obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs). OB-GYNs provide comprehensive care for women's reproductive health throughout their lives, offering a wide range of services including preventive care, family planning, prenatal care, childbirth, gynecological surgery, and menopausal management.

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