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Obstetrics is the branch of medicine that deals with assisting and monitoring women during pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium (the period immediately after the birth). The area of obstetrics also includes the pathologies that may occur in the mother and the foetus.
The main task of the midwife involves promoting the well-being of the woman and providing the necessary support and guidance so that the expectant mother can approach the duration of her pregnancy and the experience of childbirth in as relaxed a way as possible.
It often happens that women, especially if it is their first pregnancy, are plagued by worries and concerns once they find out that they are pregnant. The task of the midwife is to reassure these women, to help them to understand the processes during pregnancy, to prepare them for the changes that their bodies will undergo and to provide them with support and advice, not just on a physical level but also mentally and emotionally.
In the very first stage of the pregnancy, the body of the expectant mother changes in order to be able to accommodate the foetus. However, it is not always easy for women to accept the physical and emotional changes associated with this stage. The tasks of the midwife include making this adjustment process easier by helping the expectant mother to understand how the various mechanisms work to create the ideal conditions to accommodate the baby. It is in fact extremely important that the changes in the body in the first trimester of the pregnancy take place under the best possible conditions as this can help to reduce the risk of gestosis and the occurrence of high blood pressure in the last trimester of the pregnancy. In the second and third trimesters of the pregnancy, the placenta becomes fully formed and the foetus starts to move actively, something that helps to strengthen the close bond between mother and child. The midwife also plays a fundamental role during these particularly important stages in supporting the expectant mothers and preparing them for the unique experience of childbirth.
The assistance provided by the midwife includes:
As a general rule, representatives of two different medical specialisations work within this department.
There is no clear separation between these, as a woman may generally be under the care of both a gynaecologist and a midwife at the same time. From an ethical perspective, the doctor (the gynaecologist) deals with the pathological aspects due to their role as a physician. The midwife, on the other hand, is an expert in the physiological processes during pregnancy and childbirth. If you wanted to identify a fundamental difference between these two roles, you could say that the main task of a doctor who is a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics is to provide treatment, while the main task of the midwife is to provide assistance. However, this assistance also includes having the specialist expertise to identify when this support is no longer enough and somebody else is needed who is able to intervene to provide treatment. The midwife is therefore able to not only recognise when a doctor is required during pregnancy and birth but also has the necessary skills to avoid the need for intervention by a doctor as far as possible.