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Obstetricians and birth centre

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What is an obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a medical doctor with special training and skills in the health of mothers and babies during pregnancy, birth and straight after birth. This training usually takes an extra six years on top of a basic medical degree.

Obstetricians have special skills to manage the more difficult and complex medical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.

If you’re using your private health cover, you’ll see your own obstetrician.

If you’re a public patient, you might see:

  • an obstetric registrar – a qualified doctor who is training to be an obstetrician
  • a consultant obstetrician – a doctor who has completed specialist training.

If you’re in shared care, you’ll also see a GP who has done extra study in obstetrics.

An obstetrician’s role during pregnancy

You might have a visit with an obstetrician when you first book in to the birth centre, or if everything is OK, not at all. If there are concerns about your health or your baby’s health you'll see a doctor and you might not be able to give birth in a birth centre.

An obstetrician’s role at the birth

If everything goes smoothly during your labour and birth, you’re not likely to see an obstetrician, because midwives will care for you.

But if you or your baby needs extra medical checks or care – for example, a forceps birth or caesarean – the midwives will call an obstetrician and you’ll go to the hospital birthing suite.

An obstetrician’s role after the birth

You probably won’t see an obstetrician after the birth, unless you have private health cover or need special medical care.

Choosing an obstetrician

Not all obstetricians will go to a birth centre, and some won't allow waterbirth. If you want to choose your own obstetrician and use these options, you should first check whether they're available at the birth centre.

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