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A nurse displays a newborn baby in an operating room.
Figure 1.1 Perinatal Nurses The birthing parent and newborn make a couplet. Perinatal nurses care for the pregnant person, the fetus, and then the newborn. (credit: "Cesarean Birth" by Robyn Alvarez/Flickr, CC BY 4.0)

Maternal-newborn and women’s health nursing encompasses the lifespan of those assigned female at birth (AFAB). This care can focus on contraception and preconception care as well as preventive health care. The nurse can provide education on health promotion and disease prevention during an annual exam. For those persons who become pregnant, perinatal nurses provide education, support, referrals, and care in the office, the hospital, and the community. After the newborn arrives, the perinatal nurse cares for the parent-newborn couplet, providing breast-feeding education and support, parenting education, postpartum depression screening, and anticipatory guidance of the postpartum period.

Nurses learn the fundamentals of maternal-newborn and women’s health care to provide quality, safe care. Many nurses will care for a parent-baby couplet and ensure the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum person and newborn are transitioning well. Other nurses care for persons assigned female at birth (AFAB) throughout the lifespan in a gynecologic office.

Maternal-newborn and women’s health nurses are advocates for their patients. These nurses screen for intimate partner violence, human trafficking, substance use disorders, depression, and discrimination. The nurse advocates for persons of color, LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) persons, marginalized families, and people experiencing homelessness. Through patient circumstances involving ethical dilemmas, the nurse provides supportive, nonjudgmental care. Nurses also serve on hospital committees and work with organizations to influence policies and laws regarding health issues affecting persons AFAB.

Special populations require individualized care. The nurse tailors care to the individual needs of the person. The care plan is created with the person’s physical, mental, social, and emotional needs along with cultural and religious considerations. The care of persons AFAB is enhanced by the care provided by maternal-newborn and women’s health nurses.


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