Shawn Brooking, registered nurse and certified nurse midwife has joined the midwife practice at Trinity Health.
Brooking has provided a community education talk on "A Midwife's Guide to Women's Health." Certified nurse midwives provide obstetric and gynecological care for women as well as contraception counseling and preventive medicine.
"As midwives, we look at the person as a whole," Brooking said. "In some cases, their annual exam with a midwife is their only exam, and we act as a person's primary care provider. We do a head-to-toe physical and we try to get a sense of the whole person."
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Shawn Brooking, certified nurse midwife, is pictured in an exam room at Trinity Health.
As a part of that care, midwives ask patients about social habits, stress levels, health history and look at subtle changes that may be going on in the patient's health.
Midwives are known for obstetric and gynecological care, but can also help with lesser known women's health care issues such as perimenopause symptoms, urinary incontinence, and HPV immunizations.
In the field of perimenopause, Brooking explained, new research is continually adding to current knowledge. For some women, a counseling session on what they can expect may be all they need. For others, distressing symptoms may need treatment.
"In detecting perimenopause, it's all about getting to know the patient and asking questions, and discovering symptoms that disrupt their life," Brooking said.
Women also commonly question HPV immunizations, and whether the immunizations would be an option they should choose for their daughters.
"HPV is a big concern for a lot of women when they're figuring out if they should get their daughter the series of shots. It's fairly new, and we're all still learning. I don't think getting the shots is a license to have sex, I believe it's more of a protection than a license," Brooking said.
"Since the shot isn't mandated, people can choose if they think it's something their daughters should have, and they have the right to make an informed decision," she added.
In addition to lesser known issues, seeking regular women's healthcare for breast and cervical exams can be important for better health outcomes.
"When you talk about breast or cervical cancer, early detection equals a better chance of survival. With pap smears, we are able to monitor very small cervical cell changes and help in the prevention of cervical cancer," Brooking said.
Throughout her visits with patients, Brooking explained, she tries to address the concerns that are important to them and help them make their decisions.
"A lot of midwifery is about empowering women, informing and educating them so that they can make their decision," she said. "For example, if they want to get an IUD, I'll tell them to research which one they want so they can be sure they are making the right choice for them."
Some women may avoid regular care because they feel uncomfortable, though seeking regular care can mean better overall health.
"I tell women that it's the most important thing they can do for themselves and their families," Brooking said. "A few minutes of feeling uncomfortable is worth it for a lifetime with your family. I'd hate to see somebody with advanced cancer because they didn't feel comfortable coming in."