From the day you figure out that you are pregnant until several weeks after the baby is born, you will need someone who is educated in obstetrics to monitor both the health of you and your baby. Most of them are also trained in gynecology as well and are usually referred to as OB/GYNs, and are trained to understand all other areas of a woman's reproductive health. The term "obstetrics" is anything that is related to the study and care of the reproductive system of a woman and the unborn baby during pregnancy, birth of the baby, and a few weeks after the baby is born.
The path to becoming an OB/GYN is a long road and is composed of several steps:
- The first step is getting your Bachelor's Degree and a 4 year premed degree unless you choose a school where the two are combined into one 6-7 year course instead of the usual 8 years.
- Next you need to attend medical school. Most medical school programs last 4 years. To get accepted into a reputable medical school you need to take the medical college admission test, submit your premed transcripts, write letters of intent to the school administration, and be interviewed by admissions.
- Then you will need to get your medical license by taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination. This test is required to enter residency.
- After you pass the examination, you will need to start a 4 year residency under other licensed obstetricians where you will get to learn many obstetric procedures through hands-on experience.
- Finally, you will need to become board certified. This is done with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and will need to be renewed from time to time.
As you are studying and performing obstetrics during your residency, you should expect to learn how to perform an induction, where labor is chemically brought on early and is usually performed when the mother is experiencing health problems such as pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, or other problems. You will also learn the steps and process of labor. Whether it happens naturally or after being induced, you will monitor how labor progresses, sometimes help it along chemically, help provide relief for pain if requested, assist labor with forceps or suction if necessary, or performing a caesarean section if needed.
Finally you will help the mother heal after giving birth. This includes check ups for both mother and baby while still in the hospital as well as check ups at 1 week, 2 weeks, and 6 weeks after delivery to check patient's condition, bloodflow, and healing progress of any sutures that may have been necessary during birth.