Obstetricians are medical doctors with specialist training in looking after the health of the mother and fetus before, during and after pregnancy. The training is usually combined with gynaecology, a branch of medicine that deals with diseases specific to women and girls, especially their reproductive system.

Obstetricians manage all types of pregnancies from low risk ones to more complex pregnancies. You may choose to be treated by a private or public obstetrician. Having a private obstetrician monitor your pregnancy can be reassuring for some women and there is a guarantee that an experienced specialist will be on hand at the time of delivery.

If you choose a private obstetrician, you need to ensure that the private obstetrician you have chosen has delivery rights at the hospital in which  you wish to deliver your baby and that your private health insurance provider covers that hospital.

You can also request a referral to an obstetrician from your GP if you do not have one in mind. If you already have a hospital in mind but not an obstetrician, you can request the hospital for details of obstetricians who have delivery rights at that hospital.

You will most likely be seen in the private rooms of the obstetrician for most of your antenatal appointments if you have chosen a private obstetrician. The obstetricians work in a team with other healthcare providers, so if your obstetrician is away, you will be attended to by another member of their team.

Many couples plan their pregnancies by first attending preconception counselling sessions. Couples experiencing recurrent miscarriage or difficulty in getting pregnant deal with these problems by undergoing preconception care in order to improve their combined fertility.

Many women require no assistance when they have their babies, but a significant number require an obstetrician to monitor the pregnancy and supervise their delivery.

The antenatal care involves an initial assessment at an early stage of the pregnancy and this may include blood tests, ultrasound scan and more complex examinations, if necessary.

The condition of the baby is continuously monitored throughout the pregnancy, sometimes with the aid of state-of-the-art technology so that abnormal conditions can be picked up quickly and appropriate treatment instituted to improve the outcome for the baby and the mother.

When labour commences, it is usually monitored by hospital midwives and the obstetrician will be informed of the progress of labour. If the labour progresses normally, the obstetrician arrives during the second stage, in time to be present for the actual delivery of the baby.

The obstetrician may intervene if labour is difficult or during delivery if there are any problems. Uneventful deliveries are followed up by a check-up with the obstetrician six weeks after delivery in the out-patients department.

Obstetricians also provide support and care for pregnant women with special needs. Specialised antenatal clinics are equipped to assist pregnant women make positive changes to issues such as substance use and psycho-social problems.