Midwife, doctor or obstetrician?

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Doctor Midwife Obs

Pregnancy is a crazy, beautiful nine-month journey, with family and friends coming along for the ride. As well as loved ones, a midwife, doctor or obstetrician guides our 40-week trip to parenthood. And in Australia, we’re pretty lucky – most of us get to choose which one we’d like.

In fact, you don’t need to choose just one, lots of mums-to-be decide on shared care which means a combination of two or all three of these carers. Those in regional areas may have less of a choice, and in some cases it depends on whether you have private health. But for the most part you’ll be able to pick which medico will be holding your hand through your pregnancy.

Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy care with a doctor, midwife and obstetrician.


For most excited mummas-to-be, one of the first calls you’ll make after peeing on a stick is to your GP clinic. Before you do anything else, your doctor will do a blood test to confirm you have a bun in the oven. Then they will discuss your options for care throughout pregnancy.

Quick facts:

  • Your doctor will do a blood test to confirm your pregnancy and a few other health-related tests.
  • If you live in a rural part of Australia, your doctor will probably continue to play a role in your pregnancy, through shared care.
  • It’s likely you’ll also continue seeing your doctor for general health-related issues throughout your pregnancy.
  • Generally, a GP won’t be at your birth unless you live in a regional area.

At your initial doctor’s appointment, you can discuss your pregnancy health care, and your GP will be able to guide you if you’re looking to book care with a midwife or an obstetrician.


A midwife is a carer from the start to the end of your pregnancy, and in the days after birth while you’re in a hospital. Not only does your midwife do all your regular checkups during pregnancy, they often also run the antenatal classes.

Quick facts:

  • Depending on where you live, and whether you’re being treated in the public or private health system you may see your midwife in a hospital.
  • You may also be assigned a team of midwives to care for you – which is called caseload midwifery.
  • Your midwife will support and help you through your pregnancy with any health concerns and health checks, as well as assist in arranging tests and scans, and your hospital booking.

Generally, you see the same midwife, or the same group of midwives, throughout your pregnancy and they will then also help you through labour and with your newborn. Your midwife will be your main carer during your birth, but if there are any medical procedures needed a doctor will help.


An obstetrician is a doctor who has extra training in maternal and baby health, and can help with more complicated pregnancy and birth issues.

Quick facts:

  • Depending on where you live, whether you have private health care, and the complexity of your pregnancy, you may only see an obstetrician at a hospital a few times throughout your pregnancy. If you have a high-risk pregnancy you can expect to see an obstetrician more frequently.
  • An obstetrician can organise test and scans, as well as discuss the results of the scans, perform health checks and guide you throughout your pregnancy.

If your labour is textbook, you probably won’t see your obstetrician, however, if you or your baby need extra medical care, including operations, your obstetrician will attend. An obstetrician is trained to deal with complications, like emergency c-sections.

Keen on having a doula at your birth? Make sure you read our guide to what a doula is and does. 

Source: Health Direct

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