1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

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Am I allowed to tell you about something wonderful which has happened to me? I suppose I am. I am the Editor, after all, and Editors do have certain rights, I'm told. I'm so excited about this, and I'm dying to share it with all of you. I hope you'll indulge me.


I have experienced a birth (of sorts) recently. No, not a birth as we usually think of it. This is a different kind of birth; after all, I'm a grandmother, with a retired uterus. This birth came from my brain, and from my heart. As most of you know, my passion is for patient education and helping patients to understand as much as they want to know about their bodies, their health, and their condition. I have made it a life's work to learn as much as I can about this topic, and to teach it to others. When I speak to nursing audiences throughout the country, one of the nurses' most consistent problems is a lack of appropriate written materials to give their patients, especially cost-effective materials in both English and Spanish. The lack of materials written in Spanish, especially, is well known to me, for my patient population in the Bronx needs materials in Spanish every day. It has surprised me, however, that it isn't just New York, California, Texas, or border states that have this problem. No matter where I speak, the issue of available Spanish materials arises. My dear nursing colleague, Mary Neumann, asked me to speak in Omaha, Nebraska a few years ago, and one of the first questions asked by the audience was "Where can we get good perinatal written patient education materials in Spanish?"


I am thrilled to tell you that I've attempted to solve a bit of that problem by writing a book-which has just been "born"-for practicing perinatal nurses. My book, Perinatal Patient Education: A Practical Guide with Education Handouts for Patients was just published! This is a book I have wanted to write for nearly 20 years. It is the book I wish I had when I was a labor & delivery staff nurse, when I worked in a physician's office, when I worked postpartum, when I made home visits to pregnant women, and when I worked in a prenatal clinic.


The book has two parts. Part 1 explains (with clinical examples and many bulleted lists) some of the most important concepts about patient education. It is not a textbook per se, but rather, as the title suggests, a guidebook. Part 1 has short chapters on the best methods for delivering patient education, how to help patients change behaviors, cultural competence, readability, literacy, how to develop your own materials, and documentation of patient education, among other subjects.


Part 2 contains handouts for patients, which nurses can copy and distribute in their clinical settings. The handouts cover prenatal topics as well as intrapartum topics, postpartum topics, and interconceptional topics. I'm so proud of this. The handouts are one side of one page each (with English on one side and Spanish on the other). Two wonderful Hispanic nurses have written the Spanish handouts in "general Spanish," so that most Hispanic groups can understand them. All the handouts incorporate just the most essential information about the topic, so nurses can use them as the basis for more extensive teaching, or as stand-alone education. They are also written at readability levels between 6th and 8th grade which will make them readable by most women. I hope that nurses will copy the handouts out of the book (the book also includes a CD-ROM so the handouts can be printed out for use) and give them to their patients to read. The nurse can then assess their patients' level of comprehension and clarify any misconceptions or misunderstandings.


My hope is that institutions and individual nurses will purchase this book, and nurses will use it to learn more about what constitutes good patient education, and to provide education for their perinatal patients. I am honored that the publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (also the publisher of MCN) is so interested in women's health and well-being that they are willing to allow nurses to photocopy the handouts in this book freely and give them to their patients. When was the last time you heard of a publisher who encouraged photocopying from a book? They are to be congratulated for being willing to do this, and I am so grateful to them.


I'm so excited that this has finally come to pass. It really is a birth for me, a birth with an extremely long gestation, but I guess everything happens when it's supposed to happen. Now, as a nurse with so many years of experience, and as a nurse who has made mistakes from which she's learned, it's right for me to share my expertise with other nurses. I hope all of you who teach patients will find this a useful resource. Be sure to let me know your thoughts.