An obstetrician-gynecologist, or ob-gyn, is a doctor who specializes in the care of women. He or she has completed special training in obstetrics, which is the care of pregnant women. This includes the preconception (before pregnancy) period, pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and after a baby is born. Ob-gyns are also trained in gynecology. Gynecology covers a woman’s general health care, including care of her reproductive organs, breasts, and sexual function. Gynecology also includes management of hormonal disorders, treatment of infections, and training in surgery to correct or treat pelvic organ or urinary tract problems.
Your ob-gyn also offers preventive health care. This can help you make informed choices that prevent health problems. Preventive health care includes exams and routine tests to detect problems early, before you become sick. Immunizations to prevent disease are also part of preventive care.
Since ob-gyns are trained to evaluate a woman's overall health, they provide care for a wide range of medical issues, much more than just pregnancy and problems of the reproductive system. For many women, the ob-gyn is their primary care physician—the doctor they turn to first for health care.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are licensed as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses with a special population focus in women and newborns. They are experts in physiologic pregnancy and birth. CNMs care for adolescents and women throughout the lifespan including well-woman, contraceptive services, gynecology, prenatal, intrapartum, birth, postpartum, and newborn care.
While midwives primarily care for healthy women and their newborns, they may also care for women and babies in consultation with a physician should complications arise, with anesthesia services for epidurals and pharmacologic pain management during labor, and may even continue care assisting the surgeon if a c-section is necessary.
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