Women’s health care

Women’s healthcare for refugees and immigrants

Women's health

It’s important for refugee and immigrant women to learn about their bodies and take care of their health.

Much of a woman’s health is connected to her reproductive health and stages of life. Reproductive health means your periods, having babies, and going through menopause.

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is the same thing as your period. It is the monthly vaginal bleeding experienced by reproductive age women (about age 12 to 50). Menstruation shows that a woman is not currently pregnant. The time of your period and between periods is called your menstrual cycle.

Your period usually lasts from three to seven days. Besides bleeding from the vagina, you may have:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Bloating and sore breasts
  • Food cravings
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Headache and fatigue

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that start before the period. It can include emotional and physical symptoms.

Consult your health care provider if you have big changes in your cycle. They may be signs of other problems that should be treated.

Click on this link to learn more about menstruation.

How can I take care of myself when I am pregnant?

Prenatal care refers to women’s health care that she receives from a doctor while she is pregnant.

It is important that a pregnant woman regularly visits her doctor to ensure her health and the health of her baby. If you are pregnant, make sure that you speak with your doctor about when and where you can receive prenatal care.

What do I need to know about pregnancy and giving birth?

Pregnancy can be an uncertain time for many new mothers, filled with lots of questions about what to do to make sure that both mother and baby stay healthy.

MedlinePlus is a good place to start looking for  general health information about pregnancy. Start by reading the summary and then click on the links, which will take you to information on a variety of topics, from information about how to exercise safely, to information about what happens to your body during pregnancy.

Staying healthy during pregnancy
If you are pregnant, it is particularly important to take care of your health, including being careful with what you eat and drink and how you exercise. Make sure you speak with your doctor about any questions or concerns that you might have about how to stay healthy.

Follow the link below to start reading more about how to take care of your health during pregnancy.

Health Information Translations is another website which provides information related to pregnancy and childbirth. Click on the topic that you want to learn about. Then on the next page, click on your preferred language.

Childbirth

At Childbirth Connection, you can learn more about the physical changes a woman’s body goes through while she is giving birth.  You can read about what kind of problems may occur during labor and what kind of care you can expect to receive at the hospital. You can also read about how to plan ahead so that you can have the best possible experience giving birth.

This guide from Very Well contains a lot of useful information for women’s health care for expectant mothers about the signs and symptoms of labor. Also, you can read about what you might experience if you give birth at a hospital.

Breastfeeding

After you have given birth, breastfeeding is a great way to feed your newborn child because it has lots of health benefits for both mother and child. Experts say that if possible, babies should be breastfed for at least the first 12 months of their lives.

Healthfinder.gov offers a good overview of breastfeeding basics, including guidelines about how to breastfeed correctly and an exploration of common problems that many mothers face while attempting to breastfeed.

La Leche League is an international organization that is dedicated to helping women around the world breastfeed successfully. Visit their website to learn more about a variety of topics related to breastfeeding.

To a find a local La Leche League counselor in your area who can help you to breastfeed, click on this link below and click on your state.

Resources for low income pregnant women, new mothers and their young children

In the United States, a program called  Women, Infants and Children (WIC) helps low-income pregnant women, new mothers and their young children (up to to 5 years old) stay healthy.

The WIC Programs offers a number of services, including assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition classes, and coupons to buy certain approved nutritional foods.

To apply for WIC, visit this link and look for your state. Then, call the telephone number listed for the WIC agency in your state and tell them that you want to make an appointment to apply for WIC benefits.

Menopause

Menopause is the period in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and is no longer able to have children. Menopause frequently occurs when a woman is in her late 40s or early 50s, but for some women, it can happen earlier.

Many women experience some combination of negative physical symptoms during menopause.  A doctor can usually help treat these symptoms.

To learn more about menopause, follow this link.

Common women’s health conditions

Some medical conditions are more common in women than in men. In many cases, these are medical conditions that affect women’s reproductive organs (such as breast or cervical cancer). To read more about common medical conditions that are specific to women, follow the link below:

http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-topics/common-medical-conditions/

Women’s health screenings

Health Screenings are tests that a doctor can perform to check if you have a particular medical condition. Common health screenings include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Bone mineral density test
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical cancer screening (also known as PAP test)
  • HIV and other STD test

You can learn more about these and other common health screenings that doctors recommend for women in this page created by the Office of Women’s Health.

Other women’s health issues

Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is a cultural practice in some countries. While there are many people who feel strongly about FGC as a cultural tradition, it is illegal to perform FGC in the United States. Follow the link below to read more about the health effects of FGC.

More resources

Medlineplus provides a good starting place for anyone looking to learn more about women’s health. Scroll down the page to read  the summary of health problems that women face.  Then, click on some of the links below to find more information about a particular condition.

Our Bodies, Ourselves provides clear, scientifically accurate information about women’s bodies and common women’s health conditions.

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