Pediatricians and obstetricians: what do they do? (2023)

What is a pediatrician?

One of the many things you need to do to prepare for the arrival of your baby is to choose a doctor to oversee your medical care. A pediatrician is a doctor who provides physical, behavioral, and mental care to children from birth to 18 years of age. A pediatrician is trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious illnesses.

Pediatricians are medical graduates who have completed a 3-year residency program in pediatrics. A board-certified pediatrician has passed the rigorous examinations of the American Board of Pediatrics. To remain certified, pediatricians must meet regular continuing education requirements.

What does a pediatrician do?

Your pediatrician will see your baby for "child care appointments" from birth to 2 years and annually from 2 to 5 years. After age 5, her pediatrician will likely see her child every year for her yearly checkup. Your pediatrician is also the first point of contact if your child is sick. When caring for your child, a pediatrician:

  • do physical exams
  • Get the recommended vaccinations.
  • Make sure your child meets developmental milestones in terms of growth, behavior, and abilities
  • Diagnose and treat your child's illnesses, infections, injuries, and other health problems
  • Provide information about your child's health, safety, nutrition, and fitness needs.
  • Answer your questions about your child's growth and development
  • Refer and work with a specialist if your child becomes ill and needs care beyond the pediatrician's area of ​​expertise.

What is an obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system. While other doctors can attend deliveries, many people see an obstetrician, also called an OB-GYN. Your obstetrician can care for you throughout your pregnancy and provide follow-up care, such as annual Pap smears, for years to come.

OB/GYNs graduate from medical school and complete a four-year residency program in obstetrics and gynecology. The residency trains them in pre-pregnancy health, pregnancy, labor and delivery, postpartum health issues, genetics, and genetic counseling. A board certified obstetrician has completed residency training and has passed rigorous written and oral exams.

What does an obstetrician do?

During your pregnancy, your obstetrician:

  • Monitor your health and the health of your developing babies, including routine ultrasounds, measurements and tests.
  • Be aware of health problems that could cause problems or affect your baby's health during pregnancy, such as: B. high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, and genetic disorders
  • Tips on nutrition, exercise, medication and staying healthy
  • Helps with morning sickness, back and leg pain, heartburn, and other common pregnancy discomforts.
  • Answer your questions about the pregnancy and the growth of the baby.
  • Explain what will happen during labor and delivery.

Your obstetrician also:

  • give birth to your babies
  • Keep an eye on your health while you recover

How will your pediatrician and obstetrician work with your birth team?

Most hospitals will ask if you have a pediatrician when you give birth. Your baby's first exam can be done by a hospital pediatrician or a pediatrician of your choice. This depends on hospital policy, whether her pediatrician visits the hospital where she is giving birth, and whether her baby was born prematurely.

If your baby is born prematurely, they will likely be taken directly to the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. The highly skilled doctors and nurses in the NICU will care for your baby and monitor her health until she is old enough to go home.

Your pediatrician will receive records of your baby's hospitalization. After discharge from the hospital, your pediatrician will see your baby for 48 to 72 hours after discharge and regularly for "child care appointments" thereafter.

If your child needs more specialized care, your pediatrician will coordinate care with other health professionals. They help you understand complex information and make decisions when necessary.

How Your OB Works With Your Pregnancy Team

Your obstetrician plays a critical role before, during, and after your pregnancy.

OBstetricians work closely with nurses, midwives, physician assistants, and other health professionals to provide your care. You can see these team members during your routine prenatal appointments.

Your obstetrician may recommend that you and the expectant father attend pregnancy or childbirth classes taught by nurses or midwives.

When the big day comes, nurses or labor monitors will help you through the hard work of labor, but your OB doctor will monitor your progress and, when the time comes, deliver your babies.

If your OB is in a group practice where doctors share on-call hours, another doctor in the group can deliver your babies. Be sure to ask about this when you choose your OB doctor.

Why do you need an obstetrician?

GPs and midwives can also coordinate prenatal care, but there are some situations where it may be important to seek treatment from an obstetrician:

If you are over 35 or have a high-risk pregnancy, you may want to receive prenatal care from an obstetrician.

Some women with high-risk pregnancies benefit from a visit with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, an obstetrician trained in complicated pregnancies.

If a GP or midwife is caring for your pregnancy and you develop complications, they are likely to consult or refer you to an obstetrician.

If you are in good health and expecting a healthy and normal pregnancy, you may still prefer the care of an obstetrician.

Why do you need a pediatrician?

General practitioners can also provide routine care for your child. Choosing between a general practitioner and a pediatrician may depend on personal preference. Here are some reasons why you should choose a pediatrician:

  • Pediatricians specialize in caring for the physical, emotional, and behavioral needs of children.
  • Pediatricians only care for children and therefore generally have more extensive experience in identifying and treating childhood illnesses.
  • If your baby was born prematurely or has a health condition that needs close monitoring, a pediatrician can provide more specialized care.

How to choose a pediatrician?

It's a good idea to see a pediatrician early in the third trimester. You should take a lot of time to find someone with whom you and your partner feel comfortable. Ask your obstetrician and trusted family and friends for recommendations. If possible, schedule an in-person interview to get a feel for the doctor's office and your connection.

Here are some questions to consider when making your choice.

  • Does this doctor have a good reputation?
  • What training and experience does this doctor have?
  • Does the pediatrician respect my philosophy on breastfeeding and vaccines?
  • Does the doctor listen to me and explain everything clearly?
  • Will my child always see the same doctor?
  • Who replaces the pediatrician when he is not available?
  • Is the office staff friendly and helpful?
  • Is the office location cheap?
  • How long does it take to get an appointment?
  • Does the pediatrician offer evening and weekend visits? Who sees my son at these hours?
  • How are emergencies and after-hours calls handled?
  • What hospital is the pediatrician affiliated with?
  • Does my insurance cover the services of this doctor?

If you move house or change insurance, see a new doctor before your child needs an exam or gets sick.

How to choose an obstetrician

To start your search, ask your doctor for recommendations. You can also ask friends or family if they can recommend someone to you. In addition to the doctor's reputation, training, and experience, here are some specific questions to help you choose the right OB doctor.

  • What is the obstetrician's general approach to prenatal and delivery care?
  • Will the OB support the type of labor I want (elective induction, natural birth, water birth, no pain medication)?
  • Do I agree with the obstetrician's opinion about when to induce labor or when to perform a C-section?
  • What percentage of obstetrician B's patients have a cesarean section?
  • What percentage of obstetrician patients have episiotomies and under what circumstances are they performed?
  • If I choose to work with a doula, will the OB support that choice?
  • How does the obstetrician treat pain during childbirth?
  • Who will replace the obstetrician when he is not available?
  • If another obstetrician can deliver, can I meet him first?
  • Is my spouse or partner comfortable with this doctor?
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Last Updated: 01/17/2023

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