One Year Anniversary

I started this blog one year ago this month as I was gearing up to become a midwifery student. How exciting. Happy anniversary to us!

Earlier this month, I attended the CLPP (Civil Liberties and Public Policy) conference at Hampshire College, which was amazing. I learned all sorts of stuff that I’m still processing and got great feedback at a panel discussion on empowering birth about bringing reproductive justice into midwifery even more. I also got a chance to sit in on a long workshop with Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret about disability justice.

Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret’s workshop was absolutely fantastic. The most exciting part for me was  when we broke down disability justice into all of its myriad components and learned how to analyze each piece. I’ve long been a fan of the environmental and reproductive justice movements, but it was the first time I was given the tools to be able to analyze and understand all of the moving parts and interactive pieces of what makes a movement about social justice for all, and not just an anti-ableism movement, a pro-choice movement, or a green the environment movement. As Margaret said, no one is going anywhere unless we can move all of the pieces of this sticky wicket forward together. That means that if we are to achieve disability justice, we can’t just fight against ableism or for accessible buildings, but we have to look at how that interacts with racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, the top-down power structures of the school system, the prison industrial complex, etc. etc. etc.

Over the course of the coming year, I will begin writing pieces that take a look at reproductive justice, piece by piece, and finding ways to incorporate that into midwifery – both in my individual practice and learning, and as a broader part of the homebirth movement as a whole. I welcome your thoughts, questions, disagreements, and discussions. We certainly aren’t going to be successful at incorporating reproductive justice with midwifery unless there are a lot of us talking about and thinking about and doing this work. Together.

What should we talk about first? Let’s get this discussion started!

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3 responses to “One Year Anniversary

  1. Happy one year anniversary!!

    I would love to hear more about women with physical disabilities and birth–are they more likely to be advised to have a hospital births? Are midwives given any training in working with women who may not have full range of motion that would allow them to move into poses that are traditional used to provide comfort during labor? Or, how much training do ob-gyns get, for that matter? What resources are out there for birth professionals (doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, etc) who want to learn more about how to compassionately and competently serve these women and their families?

    Somewhere recently, can’t remember where, I read a moving piece by a doula who was working with a mother who was blind. She and the mother’s partner worked together to describe each visual change that they could see, and the mother was able to describe in wonderful vivid detail what she felt with each contraction as well as the crowning. When the baby was born, she was placed directly on the mother’s belly, and the exquisite exploration began–it was truly magical to read about.

  2. Absolutely, Lena. I think access is just the first step, and so far we haven’t learned much about providing quality midwifery care to folks with disabilities at Birthwise. Maybe we’ll learn about it later, maybe not. I’ll see if I can’t do a bit of research when I have time (ha ha ha ha ha ha) and get back to you on that. As you know, it’s long been a passion of mine and I’d really like to find ways to personally make my midwifery service more accessible.

    But briefly, I think some things are easy. If you have a disability that has nothing to do with your pelvis, I’d love to serve you. If you’re blind, D/deaf, have learning disabilities or other hidden disabilities, etc. then there is no problem. My questions lie around when we start to look at cerebral palsy, spina bifida, etc. where we might see changes to the shape and size of the pelvis (CP) or neurological issue affecting the pelvic region (maybe spina bifida). Those are places where I have a lot of learning to do on a medical level.

    I think the next step is then to see where midwifery overlaps with ableism. One really big part of this is that many people, especially in allopathic medicine, see pregnant women as disabled. Whether or not they would use that word, the way that women are treated clearly shows the underlying biases. It’s one big way that midwives and reproductive justice advocates can work with the disability justice movement.

  3. Pingback: Reproductive Justice « Bloody Show

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