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.
Your private obstetrician will see you regularly at her or his consulting rooms during your pregnancy. Some private obstetricians also employ a midwife in their consulting rooms to help with routine checks, organise tests and scans, and give information about pregnancy and childbirth.
Your obstetrician might:
When you phone the hospital or your obstetrician’s consulting rooms, they’ll help you decide when to come to the hospital. Hospital midwives will stay in close phone contact with your obstetrician during your labour.
Your obstetrician will usually check you during labour and will come for the birth, manage any problems and do special procedures. If you have a caesarean, your obstetrician will usually do the operation.
Obstetricians often work in small teams. If your obstetrician isn’t available for your birth, she or he will arrange for another obstetrician to be there. Sometimes obstetricians don't get there in time for the birth. If this happens, the midwives will deliver your baby.
After the birth, your obstetrician will visit you in hospital and check that you and baby are OK, including checking that your bladder and bowels are working well.
You’ll also see your obstetrician for a 4-6 week check. At this appointment, your obstetrician will check your physical and emotional health, including recovery from birth, and check your baby’s health.
Your obstetrician will also talk with you about contraception, sexual health and urinary problems, and any concerns you have.
You can choose the obstetrician you want for your pregnancy care and birth. You need to see your GP to get a referral.
You might be limited with hospital choices, depending on where your obstetrician practises. If you choose your private hospital first, you can book into the hospital then choose from a list of obstetricians who go to that hospital.
It’s a good idea to ask lots of questions in your first appointment with an obstetrician and talk about your preferences for the birth. If you don’t feel that the obstetrician is a good match for your needs, you can choose a different obstetrician.
You might like to ask the obstetrician about the circumstances when she or he would use birth interventions – for example, a caesarean. You might also have other questions about the obstetrician’s approach to care, family members and visitors.
Knowing your options and talking about them with your midwife or doctor can help you feel more prepared and happier about your pregnancy and birth experience in the long run.