Midwifery isn’t just for pregnancy and birth – it’s a great health care option for women at all stages of life!
Regional One Health’s team of Certified Nurse Midwives see patients of all ages for regular well-woman care. They look to build genuine relationships with their patients in order to help them improve their health.
It’s a great option for any woman who is looking for a personalized, supportive style of health care.
If the pitter-patter of little feet aren’t in your immediate plans, a nurse midwife may not even be on your radar.
They should be.
As women seek a more personal, trusting patient-provider relationship, they’re discovering that a nurse midwife is the ideal fit for their regular well-woman care.
“We see women from their first cycle all the way through menopause,” said Amanda Williams, a Certified Nurse Midwife at Regional One Health.
Regional One Health’s team of six Certified Nurse Midwives take appointments at Kirby Primary Care and Hollywood Primary Care. While women may think their services are geared toward pregnancy, a nurse midwife can be a valuable partner in improving health at any stage of life.
Williams said patients benefit from starting as young as 11 or 12 because education and support are key parts of a nurse midwife’s skill set.
She noted it can be hard for adolescents and teens to get accurate information about what to expect from puberty, becoming sexually active, preventing pregnancy and STDs, etc. – and all of that is information nurse midwives excel at providing in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
“It’s called anticipatory guidance,” Williams explained. “We can let them know what to expect, and create a safe place where young women can ask questions and share concerns.”
This can set the stage for better lifelong health because it teaches young women to advocate for themselves and take control of their choices. “By empowering women from a young age with real knowledge, we set up a better health care future for those women,” Williams said. “We embrace their curiosity and encourage them to actively engage in their health.”
Certified Nurse Midwife Meghan Madea said it’s also beneficial to establish a relationship with a provider early on. “As people get more comfortable with you, it allows you to provide better care,” Madea said. “We very much look to encourage preventative care and healthy choices, and we talk a lot about lifestyle choices.”
That established relationship can pay off big as women age and their health care needs tend to become more complex.
Madea said nurse midwives follow the same guidelines as an OB/GYN for labs and tests such as pap smears, breast exams, etc. They recommend annual well-woman visits for women who are not pregnant and do not have specific concerns or preexisting conditions.
“At an annual exam, we discuss medical and social history and which medications a patient is taking,” she said. “We do a thorough physical exam. Since this is gynecological care, we focus on the breasts and reproductive organs, but we also check the heart, lungs, thyroid, etc.”
As women become sexually active, nurse midwives also provide birth control counseling and management as well as STD screening and prevention. If a patient does get pregnant, they can of course stay with their nurse midwife for all their routine prenatal care and childbirth support.
As women reach middle age and beyond, nurse midwives evolve their care accordingly, guiding women to necessary screenings like an annual mammogram starting at age 40 and helping them address the symptoms of menopause.
This includes serving as a woman’s point person for non-gynecological health concerns. Aging increases a woman’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more, and nurse midwives can help manage those concerns.
“If something is outside the scope of our practice, we can get our patients in to see a specialist,” Madea said. “We have relationships with essentially every expert and specialist at Regional One Health, so we can easily help people get to where they need to go.”
Bottom line, Williams said a nurse midwife is a great choice for any woman who is seeking a personal, patient-driven type of care. “We want it to be a partnership,” she said. “It’s not me dictating to you the things I know. It’s discussing your health to help you make good decisions.”
Madea said that’s beneficial and rewarding to both patient and provider.
“It’s important for patients to understand why they have the choices they have so they can make educated decisions, and that’s what we can help them with by developing a relationship,” she said. “And for us, what’s really fun is to come in and look at the schedule for the day and see the names – and also see the faces in your mind.”