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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nurse practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with additional specialized education. Nurse practitioners provide some care previously offered by physicians. Education for nurse practitioners includes advanced nursing and selected nursing studies as well as intensive clinical experience specific to the nurse practitioners area of practice.
 
When should I see a nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are qualified to provide you with many health services, including the treatment of minor illnesses and will refer you to a physician if a serious health problem is discovered. 
 
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. Take care of yourself and your baby by: 
  • Getting early prenatal care. If you know you're pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit.
  • Getting regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule you for many checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Don't miss any — they are all important.
  • Following your doctor's advice.
 
Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.
Source: Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services http://womenshealth.gov/publications/index.html
 
What are condoms and how are they used?
  • Two types of condoms are available: male and female. The male condom is a thin sheath made of latex (rubber), polyurethane (plastic), or natural (animal) membrane that is worn by the man over his erect penis. Latex and polyurethane condoms provide the best available protection against many STDs, including HIV.
  • The female condom is a thin plastic pouch that lines the vagina. It is held in place by a closed inner ring at the cervix and an outer ring at the opening of the vagina. It can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex and provides some protection against STDs.
  • Both types of condoms should be used with a lubricant to prevent the condom from tearing or breaking and to reduce irritation. Latex condoms should only be used with water-based or silicone lubricants. Oil-based lubricants can weaken the latex and increase the risk that the condom will break.
Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/Patient-Education-FAQs-List
 
What happens when labor begins?
  • If you are feeling as if the baby has dropped lower, this is known as the “baby dropping.” The baby’s head has settled deep into your pelvis. This can happen from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins.
  • There is increase in vaginal discharge (clear, pink, or slightly bloody).  A thick mucus plug has accumulated at the cervix during pregnancy. When the cervix begins to dilate, the plug is pushed into the vagina. Several days before labor begins or at the onset of labor.
  • As labor begins, the cervix opens (dilates). The uterus, which contains muscle, contracts at regular intervals. When it contracts, the abdomen becomes hard. Between the contractions, the uterus relaxes and becomes soft. Up to the start of labor and during early labor, the baby will continue to move.
  • Certain changes also may signal that labor is beginning. You may or may not notice some of them before labor begins. Consult your doctor if you have questions.

Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/Patient-Education-FAQs-List

 

What is false labor?

Your uterus may contract off and on before "true" labor begins. These irregular contractions are called false labor or Braxton Hicks contractions. They are normal but can be painful at times. You might notice them more at the end of the day.

Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/Patient-Education-FAQs-List