Obstetrics is the field of study concentrated on pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. As a medical specialty, obstetrics is combined with gynaecology under the discipline known as obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) which is a surgical field.
What is obstetrics?
Obstetricians are doctors who specialize in the medical care of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. They’re also known as gynecologists.
Obstetricians might be primary care providers for your entire pregnancy, or you may only see them for your prenatal checkups and delivery. They can help you with all kinds of questions about what’s going on with your body during pregnancy, from how to address common aches and pains to managing any complications that may arise along the way.
They can also provide information on topics like labor induction options and cesarean delivery (also called a “C-section”).
What is high-risk obstetrics?
If you are pregnant and have one or more medical conditions that increase your risk for complications during pregnancy and childbirth, your care may be considered high-risk obstetrics. Because high-risk pregnancies can be challenging to manage, the specialty of obstetrician in this area is growing quickly. Women who are at risk of having a low birth weight baby or premature delivery are also considered high-risk.
Many women with chronic health conditions will require special attention during their pregnancy if they want to carry it full term without having any complications arise. High risk obstetricians are able to provide these services by closely monitoring a patient’s condition in order to keep them safe throughout the duration of their pregnancy.
Why are some pregnancies high risk?
- Pregnancy is a normal process, but it can go wrong in many ways.
- A pregnancy may be high risk for a number of reasons.
- While there are some factors that can’t be changed, you can take steps to reduce the chances of having a high-risk pregnancy.
- If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your doctor will give you special care and monitoring during labor and delivery.
What are some common concerns during pregnancy?
You may have the following concerns during pregnancy:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- gestational diabetes
- anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells that causes fatigue, weakness and other symptoms
- pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects 1 to 2 percent of pregnancies where a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and excess protein in her urine, causing swelling in her hands and face as well as other symptoms
- urinary tract infection (UTI), an infection of your bladder or kidneys which can cause pain while urinating and burning during urination. If you have any signs of UTI or if you have multiple infections during your pregnancy, you should speak with your doctor.
What is the difference between a normal and a high-risk pregnancy?
A normal pregnancy is one that occurs without complications. A low-risk woman has a healthy body and is not experiencing pregnancy problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The baby’s growth and development are within the normal range for babies of that gestational age. Low-risk pregnancies also don’t have any other risk factors, such as multiple births (twins), previous cesarean section deliveries, or preeclampsia (a complication involving dangerously high blood pressure).
High-risk pregnancies involve any condition that threatens the health of you or your baby. High-risk conditions include: diabetes; heart disease; cancer; thyroid disease; kidney failure; anemia and bleeding disorders; obesity; prior cesarean delivery (C-section); previous premature birth(s) or infant death(s); placenta previa (where the placenta partially covers the cervix at delivery) or placental abruption (where the placenta separates from its attachment to the uterus).
How do I know if my pregnancy is high risk?
If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, your pregnancy is considered high risk. If you are over the age of 35 or have a history of preterm labor, your pregnancy is considered high risk. If you are pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) or have had a previous miscarriage or stillbirth episode during your lifetime (including any time before you became pregnant), your pregnancy is considered high risk.
Who provides care for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy?
As your pregnancy progresses, it’s likely you’ll receive care from a team of professionals. In addition to your obstetrician, there may be pediatricians (for your baby) and nurses who specialize in labor and delivery. Other possible members of the team include:
- Social worker
- Doula (some women prefer this non-medical support during labor)
- Pharmacist for medication management
What kinds of care can I expect?
You’ll be cared for by a team of health care providers. They will include an obstetrician and other experts who specialize in high-risk pregnancies, as well as midwives and nurses. You may also see specialists such as a pediatrician, geneticist or neurosurgeon if needed.
Your medical team will help you understand what is happening to your baby and your body during this pregnancy. They can answer questions about how the baby is growing and developing inside you, as well as any procedures that might need to be done before birth
How do I get ready for childbirth in a high-risk pregnancy?
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your obstetrician will provide education and preparation that is tailored to your needs. You may need to learn how to take care of yourself during labor (for example, by learning breathing techniques or using relaxation techniques). Your doctor may also ask you about any fears or concerns that you have about having a baby with special needs; this information can help her better prepare for the delivery and make sure she’s giving you the best care possible.
When should I contact the medical team during my pregnancy?
- If you have a fever, call the medical team immediately.
- If you are experiencing vaginal bleeding or discharge, call your doctor as soon as possible.
- You should contact the medical team if you experience pain or discomfort in your abdomen or back during pregnancy.
- Call the Obstetrics team if: Your blood pressure is consistently high (over 150/100). Your urine contains less than one ounce (30 ml) of liquid after going to the bathroom; it’s normal for more than two ounces (60 ml) to be seen when urinating during pregnancy. Your appetite has decreased significantly and continues to do so despite eating normally every day; if this happens, tell your doctor right away because it may indicate preeclampsia, which is a serious condition that can affect both mother and baby.
Who helps you make decisions about your care?
When you’re pregnant, you have lots of people to help you make decisions about your care. You can talk to all of them about what’s best for you and your baby:
- Your obstetrician or midwife
- Your family doctor or family nurse practitioner
- A doula (a birth coach)
- Birth support team members like a partner, birth companion, birth assistant and more
Obstetrics is a highly specialized field that requires skill, patience and training.
“Obstetrician” is actually a term used for both male and female doctors who specialize in the field of obstetrics. These are the doctors that you see on TV delivering babies, but they also work with women during pregnancy to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
- They monitor a woman’s health throughout her entire pregnancy, from making sure everything is progressing as it should to checking for complications or other issues that could arise during delivery or postpartum.
- Obstetricians are trained to deal with high-risk pregnancies, including twins and triplets, multiples born prematurely (before 37 weeks), gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and other medical conditions that could make childbirth difficult or dangerous for mom or baby.
We hope this article was able to answer some of your questions about Obstetrics. If you would like to learn more about our services, feel free to contact us at any time!