Certified nurse-midwives are an incredible health care resource. These professionals do much more than assist during childbirth. In so many ways, they work with you to ensure you’re living a healthier life.
We’ll review some of the top health advice from them and correct any misconceptions you might have about their role in health care.
Top Women’s Health Tips from Our Certified Nurse-Midwives
There’s a dizzying array of healthcare information out there—some reliable, others not. Our professionals have some great tips and wonderful information to help you.
1. Don’t Diet
“Dieting” is actually counterproductive. Healthy eating is a lifelong endeavor, not a project that is geared to lose a few pounds in a short period of time. It’s important to eat nutritious meals of lean proteins, fiber and “good” fats.
Nutrition is especially important if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
“If you’re not sure where to begin, just speak with us,” said Leigh Ann Joel, one of our Certified Nurse-Midwives. “We’ll help you formulate a plan that will help you lose weight in the long-term by transforming the way you eat and the way you view nutrition.”
2. Get Enough Sleep
If you have a baby, this task may seem impossible, but it’s important that you understand how sleep affects your health.
In fact, Americans as a whole are sleep-deprived. Around 45 percent state that insufficient sleep affects their day-to-day activities at least once a week.
Sleep deprivation can put you at risk for conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and even Type 2 diabetes.
If you have a baby, consider letting family members or trusted friends help you so you can at least take a few “cat naps.”
Following are a few tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Stick to your sleep schedule, even on weekends
- Avoid screens just before going to bed—this means tablets, phones and computers
- Get regular exercise
- Drink peppermint tea
- Use lavender essential oils
- Get a massage
- Don’t worry about cleaning the house
3. Learn to Manage Your Stress
You’re juggling a busy schedule with a million things to do. Stress is almost inevitable. However, there are ways you can minimize anxiety and the effect stress has on your day-to-day life.
“Stress can lead to a lot of health-related problems,” said Stacie Diette, one of our Certified Nurse-Midwives. “These include gastrointestinal distress, headaches, heart disease, and even depression.”
In addition, stress releases the hormone cortisol, which can contribute to obesity.
Meditation, exercise and getting enough sleep are things that can help you cope with stress.
If you’re still having trouble managing your anxiety, please speak with us. Your mental health is just as important to us as your physical health, and we’re here to help.
Of course, you know that exercise has fantastic benefits for your physical and mental health. It can reduce your risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. But were you aware that it can keep your brain healthy as you age?
Exercise causes your body to release chemicals that improve your brain’s structure and its functioning.
Exercise can also help you quit smoking, reduce your risk of falls and improve your sexual health.
5. Take Folic Acid
This vitamin is important for everyone, but if you’re planning to get pregnant or if you may be pregnant, it’s vital. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the fetal spine and nervous system. Ideally, you should take at least 400 micrograms a day.
Want to know more about folic acid? Take this quiz.
6. Don’t Skip Your Annual Exams
We understand. You’re busy. Between work and home, you have a million things to do, and often, your annual appointment can fall by the wayside. However, please remember that health care screenings are an important part of your overall health.
“Many uterine and cervical cancers are highly treatable when caught early, and that’s one reason why we want to check-in with our patients at least once a year, or more if they are exhibiting troublesome symptoms,” said Amy Dixon, CNW, MSN.
7. Wash Your Hands
It sounds almost deceptively simple, yet washing your hands regularly is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy. It’s particularly important to wash your hands if you’re caring for or you have been around someone who is sick.
If you use hand sanitizer, realize that it must be at least 60 percent alcohol in order to clean your hands effectively.
Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer is also a good way to protect yourself from COVID-19, the flu and other contagious diseases.
8. Regularly Check for Breast Cancer
This is one of the most common cancers among women. It’s also a leading cause of cancer deaths. In addition to a clinical breast exam, we suggest getting a mammogram on top of your regular self-exams.
“How often you should get a mammogram depends upon your age and your overall risk. If you have any symptoms of breast cancer or changes in your breast, you should schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible,” said Leigh Ann Joel, BSN, CNM.
9. Practice Safety When it Comes to Medication
This health tip is threefold:
First, make sure you’re taking your medication as directed. If you have any questions, contact your doctor.
Second, be sure that your health care provider is aware of any supplements, herbal or natural remedies you are taking. In some cases, these can cause interactions with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Be sure to read labels carefully.
Third, if you have young children, it’s vitally important that your medications are kept in a safe place. While childproof lids help, be aware that some natural products or supplements may not have them. These can be harmful to children if taken in large doses.
10. Make a List of Questions for Us
We’re partners in your health, and as the area’s provider of choice, we provide much more than reproductive services. We offer well-woman exams, help with painful periods and treatment for conditions such as vaginitis.
“We want you to feel free to ask us any questions about your health. So go ahead and make a list of things that are concerning you and ask us,” said Amy Dixon, MSN CNM. “We want you to get the most out of your appointment, and we never want you to be embarrassed. We always have time to answer your questions.”
What Do Certified Nurse Midwives Do? Top 10 Misconceptions
While most women picture nurse midwives as helping deliver babies, there’s so much more to their role than assisting during labor. What do they do? The answers may surprise you as we examine the common misconceptions about these important members of your health care team.
Misconception #1: They only assist pregnant women.
These professionals can provide care for women throughout their lives, starting at the first period, addressing the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and preconception preparation. They can help women who are having problems with irregular periods and menopause symptoms.
They also offer extensive educational information related to health, including nutrition and exercise.
Misconception #2: Nurse midwives don’t need extensive education.
Actually, they have comprehensive training and have to pass certification requirements to be able to practice in North Carolina. All midwifery programs involve graduate-level courses and extensive education.
Some programs require that you be an RN or have a bachelor’s degree in nursing before starting the program, while others require that you take an accelerated nursing course to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing before commencing with the midwifery part of the degree.
Midwifery programs are generally three to four years long, and all must pass a comprehensive national certification exam. Like all other medical practitioners, they also need to do continuing education annually in order to maintain their certification status.
Misconception #3: Certified nurse midwives aren’t able to order tests or give medicine.
Actually, they order tests and write prescriptions like a nurse practitioner. During labor and delivery, they can also start pain medication and administer other types of tests or medicines as necessary.
Misconception #4: Certified nurse midwives can’t perform regular tests like Pap smears.
While they are well-known for attending births, 53.3% identify reproductive care and 33.1% identify primary care as their main nursing responsibilities in their full-time positions, according to the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Some examples of certified nurse midwife duties include:
- Annual exams, including Pap smears
- Nutrition assistance and counseling
- Parenting/childbirth education
- Administering prescriptions
- Assisting with reproductive health visits
Misconception #5: If you have a certified nurse midwife, you can’t use an OBGYN.
This is not true. In fact, our certified team members work closely with our OBGYNs and family nurse practitioners. We all work collaboratively to provide the best care. We believe our nurse midwives are important colleagues, and we’re excited to have them on board.
Misconception #6: Nurse midwives don’t need to be certified—they only have to have nursing experience.
They must study for and pass difficult, comprehensive examinations in order to receive and maintain their certification. In order to qualify for certification, they have to have extensive education in addition to clinical experience.
Most have a master’s degree in nursing.
Misconception #7: Insurance will not pay for anything related to midwifery services.
Are they covered by insurance? We’re happy to say that the answer is yes. While we always encourage you to check your individual policy for detailed information, in general, policies will cover midwifery services if they are given in a hospital or in a medical office/clinic.
Misconception #8: Certified nurse midwives only attend natural childbirths.
Actually, they can attend and assist with any childbirth, whether it is natural or one that uses medication. They can also provide assistance to mothers in the form of different tools and techniques—such as birthing stools, squat bars, use of a variety of birthing balls, and other supportive positions—that can help during labor.
If you need a cesarean delivery, many times they can be present in the operating room to assist with the surgery and continue to support you.
Misconception #9: A doula is the same thing as a certified nurse midwife.
No. This is another common misconception about the role.
Doulas have volunteer training, but they are not medical professionals. The role of doulas is primarily to provide physical and emotional support during the labor and delivery process, such as massage, partner support, and 1-on-1 time, but they do not monitor the health of the patient or baby.
Doulas are also not able to administer pain medicine or discuss medical decisions.
Misconception #10: Certified nurse midwives can’t help with high-risk pregnancies.
Our OBGYNs work closely with women who have high-risk pregnancies, and midwives are a part of our health care team. In collaboration with the doctor, midwives can also provide important aspects of your care.
We Want You to Meet Our Certified Nurse Midwives
Chapel Hill OBGYN is the only private practice in Chapel Hill that offers 24/7 doctor and midwife team coverage. Our certified nurse midwives offer safe, personalized care and support for you no matter what your stage in life, whether you’re expecting your first child, having your first annual exam, or starting breastfeeding.
Contact us to schedule an appointment today and see the benefits of working with a health care team that includes certified nurse midwives.
Discover a Better Way Toward a Healthier Life with Our OBGYNs in Chapel Hill and Durham
Are you planning on getting pregnant? Do you have bothersome menopausal symptoms? Are you experiencing common problems such as painful sex or a dry vagina?
Schedule an appointment with us today —many times we can fit you in within two weeks after your call. See why we’re the trusted OBGYNs in the area.