For Dr. Helen Dunnington, it is the small things that make her busy medical schedule worthwhile. “My favorite days are seeing a happy, satisfied patient: from delivering my patient’s baby, seeing a post-operative patient who is now pain free, or seeing a woman come in proudly stating she has lost weight and looking great.”
Dr. Dunnington is Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and the ACOG District XI Junior Fellow Chair. She and the ACOG Junior Fellow officers are currently organizing the 3rd Advocacy Day to be held at the end of February. Each legislative session, medical students and Junior Fellows (residents, fellows, physicians recently graduated from residency) are invited to Austin to learn more about advocacy and meet with legislators or their staff members to discuss issues important in women’s health.
“I think the most pressing issue in women’s health in Texas right now is access to care. Specifically for well woman care, routine screening, and contraception. If we can improve access for care, we can improve women’s general health and help prevent other medical problems before they develop.”
Annual well-woman visits and routine screenings give OB-GYNs unique opportunities to build important relationships with their patients. “A special aspect of our field is that we may be the only physicians some women see on a regular basis. Whether we provide care through the course of a woman’s pregnancy or for a problem that may affect their quality of life. Hopefully we are helping them improve with lifestyle changes, medical or surgical management.”
Dr. Dunnington says the most common questions she hears from patients are, “can I still exercise while I’m pregnant?” or at a well-woman exam, “I’ve gained weight, what can I do?” She says she enjoys addressing those questions because she believes fitness and a healthy diet are essential to a full life. “Most women can continue to exercise while pregnant, the key is to listen to what your body is telling you and staying hydrated with water. Sports where there is risk of hitting your stomach are a no-go for pregnancy, but many other activities including running, swimming, even cross-fit are still fine as long as approved by a woman’s physician based on her current pregnancy. As far as for weight loss, unfortunately there is no simple fix or magic pill. I often discuss with women her daily diet and activity level, and then suggest simple small changes to make the road to weight loss achievable.”