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Tuesday
Jul032012

Tuesday Guest Post: "Finding Empowerment in the Medical System"

Every Tuesday we will be featuring a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N. 

This week's post follows in the theme of personal stories in reproductive health and comes from BADP volunteer Kelly Nichols. Check out her bio, which we posted recently as a "Meet the Doulas" profile. This piece was originally posted on The Provider Project, where Kelly is a contributing editor. 

FINDING EMPOWERMENT IN THE MEDICAL SYSTEM
BY KELLY NICHOLS
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT THE PROVIDER PROJECT

“So, why are you here today, your foot?” asked the nurse, noting my cast from a recent injury. “No, I am here for a pap smear,” I replied. “Oh,” she frowned. “I wasn't aware of that. Let me go check to see if the doctor has time for a pap smear. You need to inform us in advance if that is the reason for your visit.” I had taken time out of work to be at this appointment, which I had made three months previously. Due to the doctor's busy schedule I was already months late for the test, the last in a series of follow ups after treatment for cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer. When the nurse returned to inform me that I had to reschedule the appointment and the earliest available time was in another two months, tears of frustration came to my eyes. Never was I asked whether I was feeling anxiety over the exam or whether it would be a financial difficulty to take more time out of work. Nor did anyone reassure me that I would not jeopardize my health by waiting another two months. Although I was able to schedule a much earlier appointment with another member of the practice, I left the doctor's office discouraged at what was the latest in a series of negative experiences relating to my reproductive health.

Click to read more ... 

Friday
Jun292012

Meet the doulas: Heather Sheriff

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the BADP?  They're amazing, diverse people, doing so much great work in the world, it's hard to believe any of them has time to volunteer with us. We've been using this space to introduce you to many of the BADP doulas.  This week, say hello to Heather.

 

In addition to her day job at the California Department of Public Health, Heather Sheriff is a full-spectrum doula committed to supporting her clients through abortion, miscarriage and childbirth.  Heather believes that these life events can be transformative, even empowering, and she feels honored to be invited into people’s lives to share in such experiences. She dreams that someday the compassionate and unconditional emotional support that doulas provide will be accessible to all who need it. 

 

Her passion for reproductive justice began in college at Wesleyan University, where she used a feminist studies lens to examine the history of abortion provision in America.  Heather’s past volunteer work has included patient support at Planned Parenthood and other community health clinics, advocacy with AIDS awareness organizations, and program support for the homeless healthcare initiative at CHC, Inc.  She currently lives in Berkeley with her partner and their two furry friends.
Tuesday
Jun262012

Tuesday Guest Post: "The Art of Loss Through the Lens of Labor, Epidurals and Abortions"

Every Tuesday we will be featuring a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N. 

This week's post comes from BADP volunteer Kelly Gray. Kelly is a mother, full spectrum doula, childbirth educator and one of the founders of the Bay Area Doula Project. She grew up as a union organizer for public sector healthcare workers and has a passion for redefining healthcare access, models and justice. When she's not helping women take charge of their reproductive lives, she's guiding her fiery daughter to harness her innate powers.  You can read more about her childbirth education classes or doula work at www.ninemoonsdoula.com

THE ART OF LOSS THROUGH THE LENS OF LABOR, EPIDURALS, AND ABORTIONS

BY KELLY GRAY

As a doula, I am sensitive to patterns. The quick inhale of breath of a woman whose body is losing its definition within her contraction. Shoulders easing as I whisper in her ear, and then picking back up again as the contraction rolls through her. I don’t need to watch the clock; the sixty-minute contraction is something that is now as evident to me as morning sunlight. And then contractions double, as her baby starts to slide past her cervix, she speaks of rectal pressure and doubt. Or she is quiet, trance-like, but I see the bloody show on her warm thighs, dribbling down to her cool ankles. The blood is leaving her limbs, rushing towards her belly. A red line forms at her bottom’s part, rising up like a flag planted on a new land, motherhood claimed by body. A contraction, a climax of emotions and physical intensity, a micro-reflection of the larger play at hand; labor.

When a woman opts for an epidural, a reasonable request in the hospital where a woman is expected to labor with constant interruptions and lack of trust (which all raises her adrenaline and depletes her production of endorphins and oxytocin) I see the pattern of labor halted by medication. Or so it seems, superficially. Often, after the epidural has taken effect, the woman is restless, and her eyes dart around the room as she is encouraged to sleep. A rush of emotion slides beneath the surface of her skin. Meanwhile, her baby continues on his or her path and her body continues to part. She quivers and is told by the nurse that this is a side effect of the drug. Perhaps. I find this moment in the birth one of the most interesting emotional bridges that a woman must cross, and often there is no map, guide or intended destination. When a woman is committed to natural birth, or has no intention other than having her baby with the intention of collaborating with her medical team, often the sudden turn of events that lead to an epidural can leave women with the intense need to grieve what was not meant to be. Often, they do not know what it is they have lost. For some, like me, I have dedicated my life to finding out and helping woman define this moment for herself.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun222012

Meet the doulas: Kelly Nichols

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the BADP?  They're amazing, diverse people, doing so much great work in the world, it's hard to believe any of them has time to volunteer with us. Last week I introduced myself, since I've been making most of the blog posts here without having done so.  This time I want to introduce you to Kelly Nichols who's joining me in managing the blog.  Watch this space for upcoming profiles of lots of other BADP doulas.

 


Kelly Nichols
is an educator and aspiring nurse practitioner who dreams of one day opening a free clinic where allopathic and holistic health modalities can coexist. After graduating from Brown University in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Studies, she spent a year apprenticing with herbalist Mary Blue at Farmacy Herbs, in Providence, RI. A trained birth doula, she is passionate about justice across the spectrum of reproductive choices, from abortion access to childbirth options. 

Kelly is a contributing editor of The Provider Project, a blog dedicated to reproductive justice and exploring wellness as a multidimensional state which encompasses not only an individual's physical, emotional, and mental health but also interpersonal respect and support and community self-sufficiency and resilience.

Kelly currently lives with her partner in San Francisco, CA and works as a school garden educator, teaching urban elementary school students about ecology, nutrition, and food justice. She is interested in exploring the many dimensions of healing, the social and political elements of wellness, and the history of popular health movements.

Wednesday
Jun202012

Transforming Empathy by a Full Spectrum Doula