A prenatal doctor focuses on care for expecting mothers through their pregnancies. Many general practitioners can provide basic prenatal care, and people can also choose to go to an obstetrician, a doctor who has received special training in caring for pregnant women and supervising labor and delivery. Other prenatal care providers can include nurses and midwives. Seeing a prenatal specialist will provide people with access to the best quality care while they are pregnant.
One aspect of a prenatal doctor's work involves confirming pregnancies, determining how far along they are, and estimating a due date. The patient is usually provided with advice on some steps to take to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Prenatal doctors offer advice on things to avoid, such as certain foods and dangerous activities, and they also offer assistance with developing a good diet and exercise program to stay healthy and fit through pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses, the prenatal doctor provides periodic checkups to evaluate the health of the pregnancy. Diagnostic screenings can be used to check for common congenital conditions if they are a concern, and the doctor also makes sure the fetus is developing normally and checks for issues like gestational diabetes or hypertension. If treatment is needed to address complications of pregnancy, the prenatal doctor provides it.
This work can include diagnosing and treating miscarriages, as well as providing patients with advice if prenatal screening reveals signs of abnormalities. A prenatal doctor can talk about what to expect if people choose to proceed with a pregnancy and can also offer information about pregnancy termination options. Referral may be offered to people like therapists and genetic counselors if the doctor feels patients could benefit from these options while they are discussing unexpected events during a pregnancy.
A prenatal doctor may work out of a clinic or hospital and can also offer home visits. The hours tend to be fairly normal, as doctors make regular appointments to see patients during the day for routine matters, leaving some room in the schedule for emergencies. There may be cases when a prenatal doctor is called out after hours, as for example if a patient ends up in the emergency room and care providers would like to get as much information as possible about the patient and pregnancy so they can provide appropriate care. Earnings vary, depending on where a person practices, and the malpractice insurance tends to be high for people in this area of the medical profession.