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April, 2018

Ceremony: fierce love and infinite honor

After 5 miscarriages – 3 officially logged by medical professionals and 2 gone before I could even get in the door – I’ve just been trained to believe that longing and isolation are the expected norm. It’s What We Do. We buck up. We soldier on.

We deserve so much more. We are due so much more. I know that now.

Samantha and I talked for almost two hours, huddled up on my couch on a hot afternoon. Mostly we talked about how utterly the medical system fails women whose pregnancies do not result in full-term births and healthy babies. She asked me how I thought that system should serve women, and I’m a social justice activist and a community mental health organizer so I had tons of political shit to say. But she knew and I knew that my rage and passion for change was, while legitimately describing a massively fucked-up deficit, really an explosive cover for my own hunger and sorrow. When I finally simmered it down to the truth, I wanted this: To feel like my babies and my pregnancies mattered, to feel as valid a woman as any other, and to have my body treated with the fierce love and infinite honor that I have been unable to show it. Read more →

Pain vs. Suffering: Full Spectrum Doula Skills To Address Pain & Prevent Suffering

 

Pain vs. Suffering

Most people experience some pain with the physiologic process of pregnancy release. This pain does not have to result in suffering. Suffering is a result of our beliefs, perception, and how we choose to respond to pain.

Whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological, pain is always a valuable form of communication.

“Do not think of it as pain, think of it as an interesting sensation that requires all your attention”

~ Ina May Gaskin

Pain exists biologically to send signals from our nervous system to our consciousness that something is wrong or something needs to change. The message being communicated by the pain will inform the person experiencing it exactly what needs to change and how they need to move in order to best find balance and reestablish the flow of vitality.

Multiple clinical studies have found that Read more →

Reproductive Justice

April 11th through 17th is the first ever Black Maternal Health Week, organized by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. This organization and week of awareness seeks to bring attention to the grave disparities between white and black maternal health care and mortality rates, such as the fact that black mothers are 3x more likely to die in childbirth than white ones in our country. 

The disparity is due to “an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism (that) can create a kind of toxic physiological stress,” as New York Times journalist

The following piece was graciously written for the Miscarriage and Abortion Support curriculum by my dear friend, mentor, and colleague Molly Dutton Kenny. Reproductive Justice, gender inclusivity, & the importance of trauma informed care are all topics covered in the “Cultivating Social Consciousness” module of my Miscarriage and Abortion Support curriculum.  This module is the 2nd of the course, directly after the introduction, in order to set a context and philosophical framework for all further learning.

Reproductive Justice

by Molly Dutton Kenny

Reproductive justice has been defined in many ways, including:

“Reproductive Justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”  ~ SisterSong www.sistersong.net

“…the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights. We believe Reproductive Justice exists when all people have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender, bodies, sexuality and families for our selves and our communities” ~ Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice

The hard work of intersectional, supportive care around a spectrum of reproduction has existed across communities, cultures and time. The term “Reproductive Justice” , or “RJ”, was specifically birthed by a group of Black women in the United States formed after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. This group called themselves the Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice and laid the groundwork for a framework merging reproductive rights and social justice in the context of the United Nations Universal Human Rights Declaration. The term and work that went along with it was later popularized by SisterSong, a national multi-ethnic, women-of-color organization formed to promote and support Reproductive Justice.

Read more →

Pregnancy Loss & Termination Are More Common Than You Might Think

I had support from a medical textbook editor finding the most accurate & current statistics possible for my Miscarriage & Abortion Support curriculum. Many of my students have been quite shocked to learn how common these experiences are.

Miscarriage & Abortion are normal & common.

People simply don’t talk about them openly or as often as they occur due to the shame & stigma they carry in our culture.

Take a look at the stats:

Read more →

A Call to Action for Fertility & Birth Professionals

The same people who offer professional care for culturally celebrated reproductive processes like trying to conceive, healthy pregnancy & birth have a responsibility to learn about miscarriage & abortion. I want to see miscarriage & abortion care added to the curriculum of certification & licensing programs of every modality of care provider who supports fertility & pregnancy.

These experiences are extremely common:

70% of conceptions die prior to live birth (1)

59.5% of people in the US who had abortions in 2014 were already parents. (2)

Even if birth doulas, midwives, OBs, fertility specialists & health coaches do not want to specialize in miscarriage & abortion care, they can better serve their patients & clients with a clear understanding of all types of pregnancy experiences, including loss & termination

This is because, as my midwifery teacher Elizabeth Davis frequently said,

“Every time you touch a woman, you touch everything that has happened to her there.”

Read more →