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.
In a public hospital, you might see:
If you’re in shared care, you’ll also see a GP who has done extra study in obstetrics.
Depending on your type of care, your health and your baby’s health, you might see an obstetrician at the hospital from time to time during your pregnancy. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you’re likely to see an obstetrician more often.
An obstetrician might:
If you have a low-risk pregnancy and everything goes smoothly at the birth, you probably won’t see an obstetrician.
But if you or your baby needs extra medical checks or care, an obstetrician will be there. The obstetrician will manage any problems and do procedures or operations. Obstetricians are trained to deal with complications and emergency situations – for example, emergency caesareans.
Depending on what happens at the birth, an obstetrician might check on you and your baby after the birth. You might need to see an obstetrician for your postnatal check-up six weeks after the birth to discuss your pregnancy and future pregnancies.
You’re not likely to be able to choose the obstetrician who sees you during your pregnancy or birth. If you want to see a female doctor, you can ask if one is available, but this might not be possible.
If you’re having your baby in a public hospital using your private health fund, you can choose your private obstetrician if he or she has a special agreement with that hospital. See your GP in early pregnancy for a referral.