Anyone who has had a baby or even those that have begun thinking about it knows that an obstetrician is a key part of the pregnancy and birth process. An obstetrician is a highly qualified doctor that specialises in providing medical care and advice before during and after birth, to ensure that mothers experience a healthy and uneventful pregnancy.
However, because people only really encounter an obstetrician when they are looking to have a child many might still be confused by what exactly it is that they do and what their qualifications are for such an important job in the medical field.
As mentioned earlier the role of an obstetrician is to provide medical advice and care from pregnancy to childbirth. This involves:
- Antenatal care. Antenatal care is the medical support provided for you and your baby during pregnancy. At this stage the role of the obstetrician and their team is to provide you with:
- Regular checkups to monitor the health of the baby and mother.
- Examinations to identify the stages of pregnancy and sex of the baby.
- Advice for how to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
- Medical care for any issues that might arise during the pregnancy.
- The main role of the obstetrician during childbirth is to ensure that the birth is going smoothly and provide any medical assistance that might be necessary to ensure the safety of the mother and child. If the pregnancy is considered high risk it is the obstetrician who provides the medical support required, including performing the caesarean procedure if it is needed.
- Postnatal care. After birth it is the job of the obstetrician to perform a postnatal check-up to examine the overall physical and mental health of the mother and child. In this check up the obstetrician also talks about the pregnancy and any considerations should the mother wish to have more children.
At these three stages of the birth cycle an obstetrician must perform a variety of roles including prescribing medication, determining the need for surgery, monitoring the health of the mother and child, treating complications, providing advice on family planning, and providing advice on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
As we can see the role of an obstetrician is extremely important and requires a high degree of training to perform the vital function of providing medical care before, during and after pregnancy. In order to become an obstetrician one must:
- Complete a Medical Degree. In Australia medical degrees take between 4 to 6 years to complete.
- Complete an Internship. An internship takes an additional year and provides experience in different departments of a hospital.
- Complete a Residency. A residency takes at least another year of rotations in a hospital in order to accumulating sufficient experience to enter into a vocational program.
- Vocational training. Finally, a doctor looking to become an obstetrician needs to complete vocational training which currently takes 6 years with the Fellowship of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
These are the four key qualifications that an obstetrician must undergo, and in addition needs to be registered as a doctor in Australia and continue to undergo training and development throughout their entire career to stay up to date with the newest developments in the field.