Obstetricians provide surgical care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. They also handle postnatal care.
Some obstetricians choose to specialize in maternal-fetal medicine (MFM). This branch of obstetrics focuses on pregnant women who have chronic health problems or abnormal issues that arise during pregnancy. Because of this, MFM doctors are considered to be high-risk experts.
You may see an MFM doctor if you have a chronic health condition that may affect your pregnancy. Some women choose to meet with these doctors for care before conceiving to help develop a plan for pregnancy.
Women usually first see obstetricians for routine prenatal care. The initial appointment typically occurs approximately eight weeks after your last menstrual period. You’ll then see the doctor approximately once a month throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Obstetricians also treat women with high-risk pregnancy both during and after pregnancy:
You may have a high-risk pregnancy if you’re pregnant and you:
- have a chronic health condition
- are over age 35
- are carrying multiple babies
- have a history of miscarriage, preterm labor, or cesarean delivery
- engage in certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking
- develop certain complications during pregnancy that affect you or baby
Obstetricians also treat:
- ectopic pregnancy
- fetal distress
- preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure
- placental abruption, or when the placenta detaches from the uterus
- shoulder dystocia, or when a baby’s shoulders get stuck during childbirth
- uterine rupture
- prolapsed cord, or when the umbilical cord becomes trapped during delivery
- obstetrical hemorrhage
- sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection