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More than a uterus

May 27th, 2013 Paths

I was talking with another nurse practitioner (yes, I am actually a nurse practitioner now!!!) about what I would do with my midwifery training.  I’ve decided to pursue a PhD, which means I am pretty sure I’ll never work as a baby catcher.  I knew this, and accepted the possibility when I applied for the PhD program. But, as I explained to her, midwifery isn’t just about catching babies because women are more than a uterus.

But I also trained in family practice, which means I can help identify an illness or treat a chronic condition.  In the real world, these two disciplines overlap.  Pregnant women get sick, and women with chronic conditions get pregnant.  Having the combined background puts me in a sweet spot to help women in these in between spaces.

I have an extensive knowledge of sexual health issues, and can help women as they make decisions regarding contraception or if they need treatment for a sexually transmitted infection or if they want a little help trying to conceive.

I am trained to support lactation, and all breast health issues which means I can as easily help a woman work through a plugged duct or thrush as I can assess a lump she found.  I am comfortable enough with my skills to help a woman make evidence based decisions about breastfeeding while using a medication.

I understand the menstrual cycle and can help a women if she is moving through menopause, missing periods or bleeding heavier than she used to.

All of these are skills I have gained while training as a midwife. These are basic healthcare issues I may run into with any woman in primary care.  No, I will not be a baby catcher, but I am a midwife and will still provide midwifery care for the other aspects of a woman’s life.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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