What is Family Medicine & Obstetrics?

Many years ago, all general practitioners delivered babies routinely. As physicians began to specialize, that number fell sharply. In recent years, however, there has been a move for some family medicine physicians to seek out additional training in obstetrics, qualifying them to deliver even high-risk babies. These physicians, called family medicine and obstetrics specialists or FM/OBs, can provide a greatly needed service, especially when working in rural or underserved areas.

To specialize in FM/OB, family medicine doctors have to seek out extra training in pregnancy and childbirth. They may take an obstetrics fellowship, residency, or some other kind of formal training. Their education is typically similar to an obstetrician, and a FM/OB can perform procedures such as:
  • Cesarean sections
  • Episiotomies and repairs
  • Vacuum and forceps deliveries
  • Breech deliveries
  • Obstetric ultrasounds
  • Newborn care, including resuscitation and circumcision

By nature of their training, FM/OBs often have special skills in gynecology as well. Many offer gynecologic procedures such as tubal ligations, endometrial biopsies, or IUD placements.

Family physicians and obstetricians serve an important purpose in the current medical field, filling a gap to treat patients who might not otherwise have access to OB/GYN specialists. They also can provide unusual continuity of care, remaining as a woman's physician from childhood into adulthood and throughout her pregnancy and birth. They are one of the few kinds of medical specialists that can say they are truly life-long doctors for the whole family.
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