The Quickening

gestating a birth politic

Welcoming All Families: Working with Gender Variant (Transgendered) Families

In the occasional series on Welcoming All Families, we have explored how to make our classes and practices welcoming for women of size and lesbians.  Today on Science & Sensibility, Certified Nurse Midwife Simon Adriane Ellis shares how to offer care and classes that are sensitive to gender variant families. Recently the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) released a position statement on Transgender/Transexual/Gender Variant Health Care. The ACNM stated that they “support efforts to provide transgender, transsexual, and gender variant individuals with access to safe, comprehensive, culturally competent health care and therefore endorses the 2011 World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care.”  Simon Ellis served on the task force and played a significant role in writing and advocating for this recently released position paper and worked with ACNM to see it through Board of Director approval in December 2012.

look what happens when Le Leche League tells a trans dad he can’t become an LLL group leader

http://images.criminology.com.s3.amazonaws.com/know-your-rights.gif

Queer Breastfeeding Support via Skype!

We returned from an amazing, beautiful trip to Toronto and rural Nova Scotia with only ten ounces of donated milk to spare! We were away for over three weeks. The dry ice worked its magic and protected our precious supply for 24 hours while we made our way to a 100-acre farm that was a long, fussy drive from Halifax.

With Dr. Newman in Toronto

Mostly we visited family on this expedition, but we also met Dr. Jack Newman and lactation consultant Mary Lynne Biener at the International Breastfeeding Centre in Toronto.

Mary Lynne and I have decided to start a queer-friendly breastfeeding group with access by Skype! The idea originally came to me from a La Leche League Leader friend of mine. She thought it would be fantastic for me to lead LLL meetings to help support trans guys, queer folks, and allies in their breastfeeding endeavours. Her brilliant thought to include Skype access means that people would be able to connect to such a group from all over the world. I have heard from a number of trans men who badly wanted to breastfeed but didn’t manage to do it, and I am convinced that there is real need for this kind of resource.

I was very excited to begin leader training, but unfortunately, my application was rejected. Men cannot become La Leche League Leaders. I was told that LLL is all about mothering through breastfeeding, not simply supporting anyone who wishes to breastfeed. This is certainly different from what I’ve experienced with my local LLL group – I’ve always felt fully welcome at meetings (and am grateful to have learned a TON). The leaders here were encouraging of my application. I believed that what would qualify me for training would be my experience of breastfeeding my baby for the past 16 months, regardless of my gender, since LLL is a peer-to-peer breastfeeding support group. However, the LLL Canada and International boards disagreed. On the bright side, they did recognize me as male despite the fact that the Canadian government doesn’t.

Instead, I’m starting my own breastfeeding support group with Mary Lynne, a passionate ally, mother and lactation consultant. Skype allows up to ten participants in a video conference, although quality is best with fewer than that. Please send me an email at milkjunkies(at)ymail.com if you’re interested, or reply in the comments section here so I can let you know when the first meeting will occur!

I’ve also started a Facebook group called Birthing and Breastfeeding Transmen and Allies. Check it out!

Call for Submissions: Birthing Justice – Saving Our Lives: Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth

Edited by Julia C. Oparah, Shanelle K. Matthews and Alicia D. Bonaparte.

A project of Black Women Birthing Justice

Birthing Justice – Saving Our Lives will be an anthology of critical essays and personal testimonies that explore African American, African, Caribbean and diasporic women’s experiences of childbirth from a radical social justice perspective. We seek writings by midwives, doulas, natural childbirth advocates, reproductive rights activists, moms and moms-to-be, sociologists, feminist and Africana studies scholars, and historians that document state control and medical violence against black pregnant women, revitalize our birthing traditions, and honor and record empowering and sacred birth experiences. We are particularly interested in essays that document activism and resistance.

Women in Africa and the African diaspora have rich traditions of midwifery and “motherwit”, rooted in the Southern states of the U.S., and in Africa and the Caribbean, that have empowered many thousands of women to give birth naturally without control and supervision by (male) medical professionals. Yet almost a century of scapegoating of “granny” and immigrant midwives, and aggressive efforts to control childbirth by the medical industry, has left many black women in the U.S. unaware of these traditions and unable to access alternatives to a medicalized and often disempowering birth experience.

Far from improving maternal and infant health, the massive expansion of physician-supervised hospital births has arguably resulted in extremely poor maternal outcomes in the U.S., when compared to other industrialized nations. Black women in particular have maternal mortality rates 3 to 4 times that of white women. In Africa and the Caribbean, the adoption of a colonial obstetric model has also undermined women’s indigenous birthing knowledge. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world due to a complex mix of factors, however development approaches to this problem frequently involve training of midwives/sage-femmes in contested Western medical practices.

Black women’s experience of the medicalization and regulation of childbirth is unique, because it has been characterized by both malign neglect and by overt state coercion.  Exclusion and control have not been met passively, but have spurred both grassroots activism and covert resistance within communities in Africa and the diaspora.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Granny midwives and black immigrant midwives stories
  • Indigenous midwifery knowledge in Africa and the Caribbean
  • Childbirth and midwifery knowledge in immigrant communities
  • The eradication of lay midwifery and granny midwives
  • Founding of Black women’s birthing centers
  • Doulas’ journeys
  • Black women and the homebirth movement
  • Black women and the natural childbirth movement
  • Black women’s political/legislative activism
  • Medical violence
  • Strategies for addressing maternal mortality in the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean
  • Personal testimonies of empowering and traumatic birth experiences
  • Medical homophobia and black LGBT experiences
  • Reproductive technology, surrogacy and the role of science in reconfiguring birth
  • Transmen’s pregnancy and birth journeys
  • Ableism and birth experiences of black women with disabilities
  • Teenage and older women’s birth stories
  • Birth mother and adoption “triad” birth stories
  • Health insurance/Health care activism and maternal health
  • Racism and classism in hospitals and the medical profession
  • Capitalism and the medical industrial complex
  • Globalization, poverty and maternal outcomes
  • Birth experiences of women in prison
  • Shackling of pregnant women
  • Grassroots organizing strategies, challenges and successes
  •  

Please send a short description of your essay (250 words) and biographical statement (150 words) by September 1, 2012. All submissions should be submitted to julia@bwbj.org.

Julia C. Oparah (formerly Sudbury) is an educator, writer and activist scholar with roots in Nigeria and the U.K., who lives in Oakland, CA. She is Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at Mills College, where she teaches classes on the African diaspora, women of color organizing and the criminal justice system.  Julia is author of Other Kinds of Dreams: Black Women’s Organisations and the Politics of Transformation; editor of Global Lockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex and co-editor of Activist Scholarship: Antiracism, Feminism and Social Change; Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption and Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology. Julia is a co-founder of Black Women Birthing Justice. Her birth justice activism is inspired by the challenges she experienced as a queer, “older” mom-to-be. She lives in East Oakland with her two-year old daughter Onyekachi and her beloved partner. 

Shanelle K. Matthews is a new and online media Communications Professional and advocate working within the reproductive justice movement. She creates visibility for women of color and families on the margins who have strategically been left out of the socio-political debate on reproductive health and rights. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist contributing to media chiefly in the nonprofit sector. Shanelle earned a degree in new and online media from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University and is working toward a M.S. in Urban Studies; Race, Ethnicity & Urban Culture. Her areas of scholarly and pedagogical interest are structural and institutional racism in urbanism, sociological implications of disproportionate maternal health outcomes, and Black feminist theory. She was recognized as one of 225 Magazine’s Top People to Watch, selected as the Showtime Legend for LSU’s chapter of the NAACP and given “The Voice” award from LSU’s chapter of Association of Black Communicators. Her passion for birthing justice was sparked after experiencing the birth of her nephew, Gavin.

Alicia D. Bonaparte is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College. She trained as a medical sociologist with a specialization in reproductive health, health disparities, and female crime and deviance at Vanderbilt University.  Her research interests include the abrogation of granny midwifery, health practitioner choices among rural Southern women, female juvenile delinquency, lay healthcare practitioners, racial health disparities, teenage pregnancy, and infant mortality.  Her current research examines the contemporary experiences of Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. medical establishment as pregnant teen consumers and historical experiences of healthcare practitioners, specifically granny midwives.  In addition, she teaches and works on projects that focus on disparate care among communities of color such as access to and usage of the health care system.  She is currently at work on a book manuscript addressing how racism, sexism, and inter-occupational conflict impacted the lives of granny midwives in South Carolina from 1900 to 1940. 

Black Women Birthing Justice is a collective of African American, African, Caribbean and multiracial women who are committed to transforming birthing experiences for Black women. Our vision is that that every woman should have an empowering birthing experience free of unnecessary medical interventions. Our goals are to educate women to advocate for themselves, to document birth stories and to raise awareness about birthing alternatives. We aim to challenge medical violence, rebuild women’s confidence in giving birth naturally and decrease disproportionate maternal mortality.

Abortion Doula Training, Seattle

Full Spectrum Doulas

*ABORTION SUPPORT SKILLS TRAINING*

Full Spectrum Doulas will be offering a full-day training on the
basics of compassionate, knowledgeable abortion support.

July 15, 2012
12-6pm
Fremont/Wallingford, Seattle, WA
(location will be disclosed upon registration)
$20 suggested donation
(to cover the cost of training and materials)
We welcome any donation size and strive to make this training widely accessible.

*Pre-registration and application are due by June 25.
Space is limited.
To register for the training, submit your application or to receive an application by email,
please email us at sea@fullspectrumdoulas.org

Applications for Download
FSD Training Application (Word doc)

FSD Training Application (PDF)

Topics Covered include:
Legal Landscape, Paying for Services, Options and Procedures, Clinic Protocols and Atmosphere, Nutritional Before-care, Emotional Support Skills, Spiritual Support Skills, Aftercare, Community Support and Resources, and How to become a volunteer doula with Full Spectrum Doulas

Open to the Public!
Who Should Attend?: Anyone with an interest and passion for providing non-judgmental, compassionate abortion support, especially doulas and midwives, health professionals, people with experience with abortion, friends and family of people experiencing abortion, community leaders, etc.

Abortion Doula Training, Seattle

Full Spectrum Doulas

*ABORTION SUPPORT SKILLS TRAINING*

Full Spectrum Doulas will be offering a full-day training on the
basics of compassionate, knowledgeable abortion support.

July 15, 2012
12-6pm
Fremont/Wallingford, Seattle, WA
(location will be disclosed upon registration)
$20 suggested donation
(to cover the cost of training and materials)
We welcome any donation size and strive to make this training widely accessible.

*Pre-registration and application are due by June 25.
Space is limited.
To register for the training, submit your application or to receive an application by email,
please email us at sea@fullspectrumdoulas.org

Applications for Download
FSD Training Application (Word doc)

FSD Training Application (PDF)

Topics Covered include:
Legal Landscape, Paying for Services, Options and Procedures, Clinic Protocols and Atmosphere, Nutritional Before-care, Emotional Support Skills, Spiritual Support Skills, Aftercare, Community Support and Resources, and How to become a volunteer doula with Full Spectrum Doulas

Open to the Public!
Who Should Attend?: Anyone with an interest and passion for providing non-judgmental, compassionate abortion support, especially doulas and midwives, health professionals, people with experience with abortion, friends and family of people experiencing abortion, community leaders, etc.

Interview with Doula David

"Growing up as a boy, I was never encouraged to learn about or to touch babies. I assume that few people will be surprised to hear that men also don’t tend to just walk up with a smile and reach out to hold someone’s baby. We just don’t have the same access. We are hardly allowed to play with baby dolls. Later in life we are expected to transition to fatherhood, often without ever having held a baby. I don’t think that there is anything inherent to men that makes us bad at nurturing babies. Find a boy you trust and show him how to hold your baby. Give him the opportunity and permission to nurture that new little cutey. Give the world the gift of more men who know and feel empowered to love babies."

guerrilla mama medicine:

guerrillamamamedicine:

i wish i could just spend my time writing about black american southern midwifery tradition.

and what does it mean that anarcha was a south carolinian slave who was tortured so that the practice of gynecology could be born.

and how much does the villification of midwifery as dirty, uneducated,…

Racial Breastfeeding Disparity Disappears at Baby Friendly Hospitals | Best for Babes

outlawmidwives:

One of the biggest issues in breastfeeding is the disparity in breastfeeding rates among different races.

The gap between African American women and women of other races, while closing, remains the most salient example.  The breastfeeding initiation rate of African American moms, which in 2007 was 60%, compared to the overall U.S. rate of 75%.

But it turns out that a big part of the solution is right in front of our noses.  It’s evidence-based care and following proper infant feeding protocol, neatly packaged as the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which forms the basis of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

Evidence is accumulating that not only does following the Ten Steps improve breastfeeding success rates in general, it actually eliminates or significantly reduces  race-based disparities.