Playing around with some fun design ideas for radical nursing bumper stickers…inspired by a Facebook comment earlier that ACNM has a Midwives for Life group, but no Midwives for Choice group. I’m not a graphic designer…but I love the idea of bumper stickers, pins, shirts, bags, etc. Anyone with design skills want to help make this a reality?
Like this one opening up in Buffalo, NY!
This is pretty much what I dream of doing someday and the reasons that Dr. Morrison articulates are spot on. I am so, so thrilled to know that this clinic is opening…I hope it’s the first of many that offers true full spectrum care.
“I see a connection between respecting a woman’s right to decide to end a pregnancy and her right to determine how she has her baby,” said Dr. Katharine Morrison, the obstetrician-gynecologist who has owned Buffalo Womenservices since 2005.
“It’s no mystery that I am the person to do this,” Morrison said. “To me, it is about choice. Women have a right to say no to the interventions they get in the hospital.”
About 61 percent of abortions are obtained by women who have children, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national organization that compiles abortion statistics. Morrison, who also runs an obstetrics practice at the abortion facility, made the case that women who obtain abortions are not a distinct group from those who give birth to babies.
“Both of these experiences – abortion and birth – can exist in a woman’s reproductive life,” she said. “Many mothers have had abortions or will have one.”
I was going to write about this in my [Friday Wrap Up] for the week, but an hour later it became clear to me that this deserved to be its own blog post. So, with a full heart, here it is.
A friend of mine shared this video exploring the Urban Indian Health Institute’s Native Generations project, which aims to increase awareness about disparities in AI/NA infant mortality. The video eloquently argues that there is value in prenatal and postpartum support that is culturally relevant to the needs of the AI/NA community–that in fact, this kind of support is a crucial piece of promoting strong, healthy families. The history of forced removal of AI/NA children from their families has resulted in several generations of the community being disconnected from their cultural heritage and parenting traditions, exacerbating the health disparities that are prevalent in Native communities across the country.
One of the goals of the UIHI’s project is to create safe places where the AI/NA urban community can come together to rebuild those connections. They understand the interconnections between physical and emotional health on both an individual and community level. Again, the power of group care and support is evident throughout this video. These are the spaces where new parents feel supported in their own journeys, where they can acknowledge their whole selves and receive health care that is not just “culturally competent” or “culturally sensitive,” but culturally affirming.
It makes me tear up a little just thinking about it, because as a Korean adoptee, I couldn’t help but be struck by some of the parallels between the practice of removal of AI/NA children and the trans-national/trans-racial adoption. A second generation of Korean adoptees in both the US and Europe are now growing up and becoming parents, trying to figure out how we want to raise our children. We straddle several cultures and also have our own unique adoptee culture…but I know several adult adoptees who have spoken about that deep longing that emerges upon becoming a parent to reconnect to their own roots. It’s very powerful stuff. Jerilyn Church, former ED of the American Indian Health & Family Services, is quoted in the video
Many of our families are second and third generation removed from our homelands…[they] are grandchildren of those who survived boarding schools. I find a real reverence and respect for that history and all also this collective longing to heal that history.
I think there are many adoptees who would recognize that collective longing–it often emerges when we become parents ourselves and are faced with the reality of a huge missing piece of our family history that we can’t pass on to our children.
To be clear: I am not saying that trans-national adoptees face the same systemic oppression and disparities that the AI/NA community does. Adoptees often benefit from white privilege and in fact, adoptees are the unwitting beneficiaries of an immigration system that favors them and their (often white, middle and upper-class) parents over the many thousands of immigrants that struggle to make it in the U.S. But, I do see parallels in the experience of cultural disconnect, and it is from this place that my heart really resonates with the programs that the UIHI are creating to re-establish that community and support new families. This is a video that is going to stick with me for a while…and I think it is going to deeply inform the way I approach my work as a midwife working with families during the childbearing year.
This week my heart has been full and mind swirling with thoughts about midwifery and access.
I had the great pleasure of getting to hear Jennie Joseph speak for a fundraiser for Open Arms Perinatal Services. She’s a CPM in Florida and runs a birth center and “easy access clinic”–a model of prenatal care she developed to increase care for low-income and uninsured folks in her community. The basic idea is that one day a week, her clinic is open to everyone–doesn’t matter how much money you have, or whether you have insurance or not. You walk in the door, you get prenatal care. Given the high rates of pre-term birth and low-birth weight babies in the African-American community, this is huge. Her clinic has astounding results.
It was really exciting to participate in the smaller focus group after the lunch and hear the passion and excitement of the Seattle midwifery community to replicate this model in the Seattle area. It also reaffirmed for me that my passion and drive to become a midwife is truly fueled by my desire to increase access to quality reproductive health care and improve maternal health outcomes. One of the things that really struck me was Jennie’s plea for midwives to let go of their egos a bit, in order to truly serve those that need us most. It’s not about midwives getting all the credit: it’s about collaborating in powerful ways to do what we need to do to improve maternal health.
Another interesting piece that crossed my feeds this week is an NPR article on the trend of group medical care.
Group medical appointments can work for all kinds of routine care — from post-surgical joint replacement follow-up to chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. In 2010, about 13 percent of family physicians reported conducting group visits, more than double the 6 percent that did so in 2005, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
In a typical group visit, a doctor, often helped by a nurse, sits down with as many as a dozen patients for up to two hours. Each patient gets a chance to ask questions and listen to others’ concerns. The doctor facilitates the discussion.
This has been happening in the world of midwifery for a while–it’s called Centering Pregnancy, and there’s quite a bit of evidence to support this model for group prenatal care. I know for many people, the idea of group care of any kind sounds horrible–issues of privacy come up, of course. But I can’t help feeling like there’s a lot be gained by connecting individuals with a community that’s going through a similar experience. Group care seems like it has a lot of potential to decrease the stigmatization of many experiences.
This post on Feministe perfectly captures what I imagine a true pregnancy resource center would look like:
I have been dreaming. Dreaming and dreaming of creating an organization that offered empowering support for new mothers facing difficulties. I dream of a place where we have low cost housing during the pregnancy, that is drug free, homey and safe. A place where women can come and do nurturing activities like prenatal yoga, gardening, eating healthy regular meals, learning to keep a healthy sleep and wake up time, cultivating positive behaviors and growing into the mothers they hope to be for their children. I dream of this space being completely non-religious based, offering emotional support without pressure to comply with any religious creed or dogma. A space that is pro-choice and that a woman would be connected with abortion oriented counseling and services if she decided that were the path she needed. A space where spirituality can be cultivated in individuals who desire to do so with honor for their own decisions about the spiritual, ethics, what compassion means, and cultivating and growing those traits in a shared space.
As someone who hears women’s stories (both over an options-counseling phone line and in person at an abortion clinic) before, during and after making a decision about pregnancy…this post resonates deeply for me. More than anything, I wish that there were more spaces like this, that were truly supportive, non-judgmental, in both word and deed. As an adoptee, I wish that my birth mother could have had a supportive space like this to feel nurtured as she decided how to move forward with her pregnancy. Read the whole inspiring vision here. This is something I’ll be keeping close to my heart as I move through midwifery school.
I love this!
Midwives have been doing home visits forever, it’s true…but it’s less common to see conventional medical providers doing home visits. I think it’s a huge loss…there’s so much benefit to being able to spend time with a care provider in your own home.
I can totally see myself building a midwifery/family nurse practice like this someday…
Even better–she rides a bike!
(And for those here in the PNW who remain dubious about bike riding in the rain…Jody works in Bellingham. I could imagine situations when a bike ride might not be feasible, but for the regular day-time appointments, I think it would work out just fine.)