Women's Health is a column wirtten by Women's Health Services staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and appears monthly in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
On Motherhood: Finding your inner voice
Becoming a mother is one of the profound life-changing events that we as women embrace. Motherhood touches all aspects of our lives: family, friends, marriage, relationships, work, money, time, love and how we see and define ourselves. As we adjust and readjust to this totally helpless baby — the most helpless baby animal on the planet — the world has more opinions than one could ever imagine. These opinions and “best practices” come at us from everywhere: books, classes and websites that do not know us or our lifestyles. One thing is for sure: when you have a baby, opinions, even from total strangers, are plentiful. What’s ahead of you now is finding your own voice and recognizing your strength to parent from your baby’s birth day forward.
There are times when we all feel down, have little energy, are anxious or overwhelmed. It's normal to feel this way occasionally, but if these feelings persist, they may indicate clinical depression. Depression affects approximately 19 million Americans each year, according to the Mental Health America (www.nmha.org). Depression is more common in women, and 1 out of 8 women develops clinical depression in her lifetime, according to a report from the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that was published in 2009 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. The report suggests depression is most common in women ages 25 to 44, and for women who are pregnant, the incidence is higher: 14 to 23 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy.
As women enter the later stage of their life, they begin the natural process called menopause. Menopause is the permanent stopping of all ovary functions, including monthly periods. This also signifies the end of their reproductive years, as they no longer are able to become pregnant. Menopause typically occurs in mid-life, around 42-58, with the average just short of 52 years. Menopause is caused by a major reduction in female hormones, as the woman’s ovarian early eggs are depleted and is just part of the normal aging process.
Midwives have been attending women for centuries. But until the 1940s, history tells us they were generally local women with good hearts and instincts, but no formal education. Times have changed, as has the scope of the midwife's practice. Ten years ago, 3 percent of the babies in the United States were delivered by midwives. Today, that number is up to 10 percent and is on the rise. Still, misconceptions about our work persist. It's time to set the record straight.
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall, which may cause symptoms of pelvic pain, urinary frequency, and pain with intercourse. These symptoms may be persistent, or they may be triggered by the menstrual cycle, stress, long periods of sitting, or sexual intercourse. It is a frustrating illness, because it is often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. While interstitial cystitis often goes undiagnosed, more than 1% of women may have it.
Many women have grown up hearing that an essential part of their health care includes a yearly Pap test. But in the last year, these recommendations have changed and, in this instance, the right way to take care of yourself can be confusing.
A young woman's first gynecological exam can be filled with anxiety and fear.
This is often based on embarrassment or inaccurate information about what the exam feels like and what testing will be done.
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