An obstetrician is a physician that specialises in the care of women during pregnancy, labour, or the post natal period.
They are qualified doctors who have gained additional qualifications in obstetrics and gynaecology. This additional training takes a total of four years and, as a result, an obstetrician is an authority in the minute detail of pregnancy, birth, the post natal period and high risk pregnancy.
Some may also be qualified in foetal care or infertility.
In the UK, the obstetrician is unlikely to become involved in a pregnant woman's care unless a complication occurs, or if the woman has a history of a high risk pregnancy - for example, a previous ectopic pregnancy; a history of pre-eclampsia, or other medical issues affecting her or her baby.
In an otherwise straightforward pregnancy, an obstetrician is most likely to intervene in a woman's care if she requires an assisted delivery with a ventouse extraction or forceps, or caesarean section.
They will also become involved if a woman is carrying a baby in the breech position. If the baby is determined to be in the breech position before labour begins, an obstetrician may attempt to turn the baby while it is in the womb.
If this fails, the obstetrician will advise the woman about birth options available to her, and will be present for an attempted vaginal delivery or caesarean section.