Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 21, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963855 | Print ISBN: 9781412941860 | Online ISBN: 9781412963855| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Each year, over half a million women die as a result of complications of pregnancy, childbirth and abortion. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable and occur in developing countries in contexts where women lack access to good quality, skilled and timely health care. Obstetrics is the surgical specialty involved with the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (the period shortly after birth). Most obstetricians are also gynecologists and look after women's other health issues such as fertility problems, reproductive organ cancers, and termination of unwanted pregnancy in some settings. Obstetrics differs from other branches of medicine in that it deals with patients who are generally in good health. After all, pregnancy is not a pathological condition, but rather a natural process that most women will go through at some point in their lives. The majority of pregnancies proceed without complications and result in the safe ...