When it comes to women’s health, few professionals play a crucial role as obstetricians. These specialized physicians are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of women and their babies throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. But what role do they play in the field of healthcare? 

That’s what this blog is all about! We’ll delve into the world of obstetrics and explore the comprehensive role obstetricians play in women’s health. We’ll detail the wide range of services they offer throughout the three stages of pregnancy and beyond and delve into the rigorous education and training they undergo. Additionally, we’ll touch on the various conditions they treat and when you should seek care from an obstetrician. So, let’s dive in and explore how these professionals contribute to a healthier outcome for women worldwide. 

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What Is an Obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a medical doctor specializing in caring for women during preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few weeks after childbirth (postpartum). They provide care for women during these stages, ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. They also have the knowledge and skills to manage complex or high-risk pregnancies and births.

As a woman’s health is of the utmost concern when they’re pregnant, obstetricians play a critical role in monitoring the health of the mother and the baby until delivery. They monitor the health of pregnant women through regular check-ups, ultrasounds, and routine exams to detect any potential complications or health issues. They also provide guidance on nutrition, physical exercise, and lifestyle choices to promote a healthy pregnancy. Obstetricians play a significant role during labor and delivery as they can monitor the progress of labor and perform interventions such as inducing labor or performing cesarean delivery when necessary. After childbirth, the obstetrician continues to care for the mother, monitoring their recovery and addressing any complications that may arise. Furthermore, they offer support for breastfeeding and postpartum mental health. 

What Do Obstetricians Do?

Obstetricians offer specialized care to patients throughout pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and after delivery. They have a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including:

  • Meeting with patients
  • Performing corrective and preventive surgeries, including hysterectomies, biopsies, and tumor excision
  • Diagnosing reproductive conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis
  • Overseeing the childbirth process and leading medical personnel assisting in the delivery
  • Conducting fertility treatment and providing resources and guidance to their patients
  • Providing postpartum care for up to six weeks after childbirth
  • Identifying congenital anomalies or potential complications in conjunction with maternal-fetal healthcare providers
  • Treating health conditions that can affect the pregnancy or the baby
  • Ordering prenatal screenings, exams, and lab tests

But what do these responsibilities look like throughout the different stages of pregnancy? During the first trimester, obstetricians recommend scheduling regular consultations to conduct comprehensive health assessments and necessary laboratory tests. They also give a rough estimate of your due date. Furthermore, obstetricians discuss lifestyle changes and prenatal vitamins.

During the second trimester, obstetricians focus on monitoring the movement of the fetus. They determine the approximate size and compare it to reference values. The visits during the second trimester also allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. At this stage, the fetus sometimes moves its limbs, which is a sign of nervous and muscular development. Obstetricians may administer a blood test or get a sample of the amniotic fluid to determine the possibility of developmental issues. They may also ask you to undergo testing for gestational diabetes and anemia.

Prenatal visits during the third trimester are more frequent. As you near the end of pregnancy, the obstetrician will check the position of the fetus. You may also have discussions about pain management options. Lastly, they discuss birth plans and answer any questions you may have.

Continuous care and monitoring throughout the pregnancy are not just routine—they play a vital role in ensuring your and your baby’s health. Any changes in health are promptly addressed, and potential complications can be managed early. Moreover, receiving delivery assistance from obstetricians provides you with the necessary support and clinical care for a healthy delivery. 

How to Become an Obstetrician


The journey to becoming an obstetrician requires extensive education and training. It can take 12 years after high school. But what does it consist of? It includes the following:

  1. The first step is to complete four years of undergraduate studies in a science or health-related program. This could be biology, chemistry, public health, or any other major that includes the prerequisite courses for medical school. These courses typically include biology, general chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, mathematics, and English.
  2. The next step involves earning a four-year medical school degree in either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) program. The medical school consists of two phases: preclinical and clinical. While the preclinical phase includes classroom and laboratory studies, the clinical phase includes hands-on experience in clinical rotations.
  3. The last step to becoming a practicing obstetrician includes completing four years of residency training in an obstetrics and gynecology program. During this period, aspiring obstetricians gain supervised training with patients dealing with reproductive health conditions under the supervision of a trained obstetrician.
  4. Optionally, obstetricians can pursue further training in a fellowship program that can take up to three years. They can pursue additional training in reproductive endocrinology, gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, female pelvic medicine, and reconstructive surgery.

Besides these crucial milestones, to succeed in the field, obstetricians also need to possess skills and qualities such as:

  • Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent critical analysis and problem-solving skills, especially when working with high-risk patients
  • The ability to work well in a team of physicians and other medical professionals
  • Great leadership skills which are necessary for conducting a successful operation
  • Attention to detail and diagnostic skills
  • Emotional resilience and the ability to work well under pressure

What Do Obstetricians Treat?

Obstetricians diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and women’s reproductive health. Some of the conditions obstetricians treat include the following:

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure)
  • Uterine rupture
  • Morning sickness
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Sepsis
  • Obstetrical hemorrhage
  • Fetal distress
  • Placental issues like placental abruption
  • Infections
  • Genetic disorders
  • Ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages
  • Gestational diabetes

The obstetrician employs various methods to treat these conditions and potential complications during pregnancy. For example, to treat gestational diabetes, they recommend diet modification and exercise, regular sugar monitoring, and sometimes insulin therapy. On the other hand, to manage preeclampsia, they regularly monitor blood pressure and the growth and well-being of the fetus. To treat severe preeclampsia, they may also administer antihypertensive drugs to lower blood pressure, anticonvulsant medications like magnesium sulfate, and corticosteroids to promote the development of the baby’s lungs before birth.

They can also perform surgeries related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, such as:

  • Episiotomy
  • Cervical cerclage
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Vaginal delivery
  • Dilation and curettage

When Would I Need to See an Obstetrician?

Common reasons for visiting an obstetrician include pregnancy planning, prenatal care, and childbirth. If you are planning a pregnancy, you can benefit from a preconception consultation with an obstetrician. This consultation includes health assessments, lifestyle recommendations, and any genetic concerns. The obstetrician can also evaluate and address any potential fertility issues.

You should also seek care from an obstetrician as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy, you’ll have monthly, biweekly, and weekly consultations as you near your due date. During your visits, the obstetrician focuses on detecting any potential complications by performing physical exams and ordering lab tests. Some of the prenatal screenings and routine tests you’ll need during pregnancy include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Pap smear test
  • Complete blood count (CBC) and other blood panels
  • Group B Streptococcus screen
  • Glucose tolerance test
  • Quad screening blood test
  • Ultrasound to assess the placenta and uterus

If your pregnancy is normal, you probably won’t need an obstetrician during childbirth; however, an obstetrician will be available if any complications arise. While you may not need an obstetrician during childbirth, they can help you prepare for the process by discussing your birth plan, pain management options, and what you can expect from each option.

On the other hand, obstetricians play a critical role during complicated or high-risk pregnancies. They monitor any changes and address them promptly to reduce the chances of complications so that the baby’s birth is safe and memorable. Obstetricians also manage conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and potential congenital anomalies, which can place you at a higher risk of being unable to experience normal delivery. While they do everything possible to help you have a normal labor and delivery, during these situations, the obstetrician may induce labor or do a cesarean delivery. 


Obstetricians play a crucial role in women’s health as they guide pregnant women throughout pregnancy to ensure safe deliveries and promote overall reproductive wellness. Beyond pregnancy, these professionals also provide family planning services and address infertility concerns.

Therefore, we encourage you to prioritize your reproductive health and seek care from a qualified obstetrician, whether you’re planning a pregnancy or are currently pregnant. Consulting with an obstetrician ensures you receive personalized, expert care tailored to your specific needs. 

So, let’s recognize and appreciate the indispensable role of obstetricians in promoting maternal and infant health. Their dedication, expertise, and compassionate care contribute significantly to healthier outcomes for women. Remember that your health is a priority, and obstetricians are here to help you every step of the way. 

If you’re intrigued by the crucial role obstetricians play in women’s health and are interested in pursuing this profession, explore our guide on the path to becoming an obstetrician and check out how our M.D. program can support your aspirations of entering the medical field.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is the difference between a gynecologist and an obstetrician?

While both gynecologists and obstetricians are medical doctors who specialize in women’s health, there’s a critical difference between the two. Gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive system outside of pregnancy and labor, whereas obstetricians don’t treat health issues outside of pregnancy and labor. 

Do obstetricians do C-sections?

Yes! Obstetricians are the primary medical professionals who perform C-sections. 

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