What is Medical Obstetrics?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

There are many different medical fields a person can enter, depending on what he or she would like to treat. Some doctors prefer to care for women and their medical needs, specifically those involving pregnancy and childbirth. This branch of medicine is known as medical obstetrics.

Medical obstetric professionals often conduct exams and pap smears on patients.
Medical obstetric professionals often conduct exams and pap smears on patients.

A person who works in medical obstetrics is known as an obstetrician. He or she is responsible for the care of women, as well as their children, during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period. Many patients refer to their obstetrician as an OB or OB/GYN, which is an abbreviation for an obstetrician/gynecologist. Doctors in the veterinary field who care for the same stages in animals are based on the same concept.

Screenings for diseases like tuberculosis are commonly included in a medical obstetrics exam.
Screenings for diseases like tuberculosis are commonly included in a medical obstetrics exam.

Medical obstetrics doctors regularly examine their pregnant patients to monitor the patients' pregnancies. They do this to check the progress of the pregnancies as well as to rule out diseases, monitor disease already in progress, and maintain the safety of both the mother and the fetus. The number of antenatal appointments will vary depending on the patient's risk factors. If the mother is experiencing a fairly normal pregnancy, she will require fewer visits, while a mother with high-risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure may need to be seen more often.

During a medical obstetrics exam, a variety of tests will be conducted to ensure the health of both the mother and fetus. During the first trimester of pregnancy, a complete blood count, blood type test, antibody screen, syphilis test, and pap smear will all usually be administered. Screenings for gonorrhea, chlamydia, tuberculosis, HIV, streptococcus, and hepatitis B are also normally conducted.

Pregnant women can expect different medical obstetrics screenings during the second trimester. Various blood tests are typically given to check for abnormalities or defects. Abdominal or transvaginal ultrasounds are generally conducted regularly to monitor the status of the cervix, placenta, fetus, and fluids present.

Women over 35 years of age or who have high-risk pregnancies may also be given an amniocentesis, or amniotic fluid test. This is conducted to check for chromosomal abnormalities and infection. In the third trimester of pregnancy, a medical obstetrics exam will usually include iron and glucose testing.

An obstetrician will often deliver his or her patients' babies. During delivery, he or she will perform a vaginal exam, administer pain medication, and surgically assist with the birth if necessary. He or she will also monitor and treat the patient and fetus for emergencies during delivery, such as preeclamsia, ectopic pregnancy, or uterine rupture.

People who work in medical obstetrics are often called OB-GYNs.
People who work in medical obstetrics are often called OB-GYNs.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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