Poverty, scarce education, poor economic opportunities, gender discrimination, and unjust laws challenge the advancement of women’s health around the world. These factors restrict access to important health services and the education women need to improve their lives and the lives of their children and community. When a priority is placed on women’s health concerns, women’s rights, and empowerment, immense improvements in the health and well-being of women and their children result.
An intimate and complex experience, childbirth reflects a woman’s biology as well as the social context in which delivery takes place. The experience of every woman is unique to her and deeply personal because of the culture in which she gives birth and the culture with which she identifies herself. Today’s healthcare professional must provide a level of care that meets the guidelines of cultural competence and respects different cultural values and belief systems to assure that patients will be truly cared for in a holistic way that advocates for them appropriately, thoughtfully, and sensitively.
Ectopic pregnancies are a gynecological emergency that can seriously affect a woman’s health and fertility. However, new developments in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition have resulted in greatly improved maternal mortality and morbidity. The healthcare provider is key to patient education, early assessment and diagnosis, and the proper treatment of this serious condition.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition affecting thousands of pregnant women each year. More severe than morning sickness, HG can affect every aspect of a woman’s life. With early recognition and treatment, however, this condition can be effectively managed.
Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (previously called pregnancy-induced hypertension or PIH) are complex and serious conditions of pregnancy, which, if untreated or improperly treated, can result in maternal and fetal complications including death. Healthcare providers must have a working knowledge of the pathophysiology of these conditions as well as the classifications of the disease and the recommended treatment modalities in order to provide safe and effective care.
Diabetes during pregnancy can provide a special challenge to the patient and her healthcare providers. The effects of poorly controlled blood glucose levels can result in life-threatening effects for both the mother and the fetus.
Great strides have been made in preventing and treating neonatal group B streptococcal infection during the last 20 years, especially with the use of prophylactic antibiotics during labor. In addition, the development of rapid detection tests and a vaccine look promising.
For most women, the birth of a baby is a joyous and exciting time. However, for some women, childbirth is accompanied by depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, and even suicide. Depression following the delivery of an infant can take three basic forms—postpartum blues, postpartum psychosis, and postpartum depression. All three types can profoundly affect the lives of women and their families.
The prevention of child maltreatment, particularly the reduction of abusive injuries and their consequences, is an important public health concern. Even when they do not result in death, serious traumatic brain injuries in children have profound lifetime consequences. The crime of pediatric abusive head trauma (PAHT) is a preventable and severe form of child abuse. In the United States, child abuse is the third leading cause of all head injuries, and its prevention and treatment present a challenge to healthcare providers.