Obstetrics is the field of medicine that deals with pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period.
Obstetrics is the oldest branch of medicine, extending well back to the pre-historical era. It is the medical science of birth, and arguably one of the most difficult and important medical disciplines, since children are the future and childbirth can be extremely difficult for both the woman and the baby. Originally practice by midwives, obstetrics became an advanced medical field at the turn of the 20th century with the advent of germ theory, x-rays and modern surgical techniques. Within three decades, the number of women and infants who died during childbirth dropped sharply, although it persists to be a problem in the third world.
Many doctors look down on obstetricians because the woman he or she is treating will of course be doing most of the work. The word â€œobstetricsâ€� in fact comes from the Latin word for â€œto watch,â€� the same root word as â€œobserve,â€� because in the early years that was all that the doctor could do. However, obstetrics is now a highly advanced medical field combining surgery, pathology and anesthetics to ensure that the birth is as safe and painless as possible. Obstetricians need to not only be familiar with every part of the birthing process, but also know intimately the sort of complications and problems which can occur leading up to the birth and during the birth.
Obstetrics now extends well into the growth and development of the fetus. Obstetricians monitor the baby for months up until the birth to ensure that the baby is developing well, and that the mother is receiving all necessary care and nutrition. They are also expected to be ready and available to conduct surgery should something go wrong. In childbirth, doctors are expected to act quickly and effectively in order to assist both the child and the mother, and are trained to identify and respond to crises. The advanced medical training necessary for a doctorate in obstetrics is also essential in lessening the mother’s pain. The agony of childbirth is so famously painful that for centuries it was seen as a punishment from God for the sin of Eve. However, recent advances in pain prevention and treatment make the process much less painful, and medications on the market are harmless to both the mother and child.
J. P. Greenhill has written: 'Obstetrics for the general practitioner' -- subject(s): Obstetrics 'Obstetrics, from the original text of Joseph B. de Lee' -- subject(s): Obstetrics 'Greenhill's Office gynecology' -- subject(s): Female Genital Diseases, Gynecology 'Obstetrics' -- subject(s): Obstetrics 'The miracle of life' -- subject(s): Childbirth, Prenatal care
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