What is a nurse midwife?

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) provide health care involving emotional and physical support to women before, during, and after childbirth. Nurse midwives focus on education about pregnancy, the birth process and post-partum period with the goal of empowering women. They are educated in two disciplines: nursing and midwifery. Midwife literally means "with woman" and nurse midwives believe in being present throughout the labor process. Nurse midwives follow a long established tradition of dedicated, warm and competent care. CNMs have graduated from an accredited education program and passed a national certification exam. They work collaboratively with physicians, who are available for consultation and referral if necessary.

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What is a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?

The Women's Health Nurse Practitioner is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who is prepared through academic and clinical study to provide health care, with an emphasis on reproductive-gynecologic and well-woman health, to women throughout the life span. The role of the WHNP is to assess, diagnose, and treat and includes prescribing pharmacologic agents and selecting nonpharmacologic interventions to manage identified health problems and conditions. The WHNP is a licensed professional and, as such, is subject to the rules and regulations of the state(s) in which she/he works. The WHNP functions in a variety of settings and provides care that includes wellness promotion and management of gynecologic and common nongynecologic problems. The WHNP collaborates with a multidisciplinary health care team to provide comprehensive care that is specific to each patient's needs.

--National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, 2008

Learn How to Monitor Your Menstrual Cycles

It is important for you to maintain good menstrual calendars. It is not normal to miss periods or to have too many periods. Sometimes health providers can control how many periods you have per year by using hormones such as birth control pills. You need to count from the first day of your menstrual flow to the first day of your next menstrual flow. Usually we regard the calendar count as normal between 24 and 35 days (one month). It is appropriate to count how long your periods last and we regard a period lasting 1-7 days as normal, which varies among all women. It is good to note if the period is light, moderate or heavy and this can be very subjective among women. Abnormal blood flow would be too light where you hardly have a spot of blood, and too heavy would mean you are changing pads every 30-60 minutes to the point of becoming anemic. You should not have bleeding or spotting at mid-cycle or any other time in your menstrual calendar. Be very careful using tampons and keep track of them. Toxic Shock Syndrome is very serious.

Menstrual cramping is called dysmenorrhea, which can be light, moderate, or severe (not relieved with pain medication). Primary dysmenorrhea means you release high levels of prostaglandins from the brain and anti-prostaglandins such as Ibuprofen relieve the symptoms if taken by the onset of the cycle. Secondary dysmenorrhea is a condition caused by other GYN problems such as endometriosis. Usually the pain is not relieved with medication or hormones. A diagnostic laparoscopy is the only way to diagnose endometriosis.

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