Doctors - Childbirth Historical Changes

Your pregnancy involves many people besides your family and you and your baby. There's the pregnancy dentist (although your regular dentist might be knowledgeable enough about tooth care during pregnancy) and other pregnancy medical personnel, like your choice of caregiver whether it be a midwife or a gynecologist/obstetrician. There could be an exercise instructor or birthing coach or educator. And after your baby is born you'll need to find a pregnancy pediatrician. If you're giving birth in a hospital, the staff might be able to suggest a pediatrician. Some parents simply take their children to their GP (general practitioner doctor).

Choosing a Doctor

Your pregnancy health will be a top priority when you discover that you're going to have a baby. It's important to choose a properly trained physician. A properly trained physician is someone with a Doctor of Obstetrics (D.O) degree or a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree who finished several years in college, university or medical school and has fully completed residency training. Many M.Ds practice family medicine as general practitioners and are fully qualified to care for you during your pregnancy. Physicians with a D.O often have specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology and only work with a very specific clientele, for obvious reasons. Some physicians also perform abortions so you many want to find this out first if you're opposed to the procedure and abortion doctors.

Getting a recommendation is the best way to get a good doctor. Ask friends and relatives for their suggestions. Sometimes another physician like an internist or pediatrician can provide a recommendation. If you currently have a family doctor, he or she will care for you until approximately your seventh month. Then he or she will transfer you to under the care of your chosen obstetrician. If you don't have an obstetrician, your family practitioner can usually offer a recommendation. Nurses and even residents (doctors in training) can also help you locate a physician, especially if you're new to an area.

Others places to find physicians are childbirth education groups like the local La Leche League Chapter and the International Childbirth Education Association. The national Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology can also provide you with a list of faculty members in your area who are accepting new patients.

A word of warning. It's important to get proper medical care when you're pregnant. And while the Internet is a great source for information, resist the urge to self-diagnose or self-treat yourself with recommendations from a pregnancy WebMD without first getting in-person feedback from or double-checking the information with a trained physician.

Midwife vs Doctor

In ancient time all births were attended to by skilled female midwives. By the 1800s male doctors were slowly getting more involved in the birthing process because childbirth was starting to be viewed as dangerous. The perception of midwives changed and many women, especially those in the middle to upper classes, considered them dirty and ignorant. During the Victorian era, pregnant women were often considered too fragile to give birth in the traditional way. Ether and chloroform began to be used for labor pain relief and women started giving birth while lying down instead of in the traditional upright position. Hospital births became more common in the 1920s and 1930s where doctors took over the birthing process.

In modern times there has been a return by many women to some traditional birthing methods. Midwives are becoming a more popular choice and they can deliver babies in a hospital, at a birthing center or at home. Modern midwives often offer the same type of prenatal care as physicians including ultrasounds and blood testing, but their view to the birthing process is more natural and less institutionalized.

Some types of midwives in the developed world don't have formal post-secondary education. They're often called lay midwives or empirical midwives and have informal apprenticeship type training from an experienced midwife. Extensive independent study is common. Lay midwives tend to emphasize the psychosocial and physiologic aspects of labor and delivery.


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