Obstetrics: Caring For Pregnant Women

There are two very distinct yet overlapping areas of medicine that focus attention on the care of pregnant women and the management of their pregnancy, labor, and birth. These fields are obstetrics and midwifery. Where obstetrics hone in on the difficulties of pregnancy and labor, midwifery capitalizes on the normalcy of pregnancy and childbirth while acknowledging the inherent vulnerabilities associated with the process.

Obstetrics vs. Midwifery - Is There Room For Both?

Obstetricians are specialists educated in the health of the female reproductive system and surgical care. The primary focus is on detection and management of problems associated with obstetrics and gynecology.

Midwifery is now considered a profession and women who are midwives are well educated and trained to provide wellness care to women and infants during the year of childbearing. Part of the training for a midwife includes watching for deviations from health throughout the pregnancy and birth, and to refer the client to a medical doctor if it becomes necessary.

In the twenty-first century, the move away from having an obstetrician for the entire pregnancy when the pregnancy is low-risk is occurring more often. Women who are low-risk are often looking for ways to make their delivery as natural and relaxed as possible.

Some hospitals are creating relaxed atmospheres and there is less intervention by OB/GYNs than there used to be. In fact, many are allowing midwives to assist in the deliveries, a function midwives perform outside of the hospital regularly.

Cases For OB/GYN

While some physicians choose an obstetric practice and others only gynecology, most OB/GYNs follow both paths and use one specialty to compliment the other. Overall, obstetrical care is necessary for high risk pregnancies and deliveries. High risk pregnancy obstetrics involves dealing with such issues as the effects of pregnancy alcohol abuse on the unborn baby and the mother. Such a pregnancy can abort easily, and the unborn baby is exposed to high stress in the womb. This has to be monitored in order to ensure a live birth and the OB/GYN is the person to do that job. With the use of scans, ultrasound and genetic testing, an obstetrician has access to information that can save lives.

An obstetrician is able to monitor the health of both baby and mother beginning in early pregnancy, especially when there are pre-pregnancy gynecological issues like endometriosis or infertility. Because of the specialized training in women's health problems, the obstetrician is able to determine if sudden weight gain in pregnancy is due to pre-eclampsia and water retention or diabetes.

The effects of smoking in pregnancy obstetrics is yet another area of expertise for these doctors. In cases like pregnancy alcohol abuse and smoking during pregnancy, the help of an obstetrician can make the difference for an unborn baby. Midwives do not have access to the equipment and testing facilities available to an OB/GYN and as a result will usually guide their clients in the direction of a doctor who is able to help.

For Those Who Are Not High-Risk

Obstetricians are trained in the use of medical interventions, and a woman who is low-risk may not want or need the expertise an OB/GYN offers. The preference for a hands-off, natural approach to the pregnancy and birth indicates the use of midwifery as opposed to obstetrics. Some of the disadvantages to using an obstetrician include the increase in risk of an episiotomy, or an induced or assisted delivery.

The startling increase in caesarean sections that has taken place in the last 25 years is due to the increased involvement of obstetricians in low-risk pregnancies. If a woman is using an OB/GYN, it is assured her delivery will be in the hospital rather than in a birth center or at home. Of course, there's the huge expense of a specialist for prenatal care and birth. A midwife costs a small fraction of what one would pay an obstetrician.

Being Informed

Along with the many years of training and expertise, an obstetrician has access to the latest in pregnancy obstetrics news and information. Much of that information is available in well-researched pregnancy articles on the net as well, so a woman who wants to be informed in terms of what is happening in the arena of pregnancy obstetrics news can do so.

Becoming informed through pregnancy articles is a great way to increase knowledge and understanding about pregnancy, the effects of different things on a pregnancy and can help a woman determine her need for a specialist.

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