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Entries in abortion doula (4)


My experience with a BADP doula

This blog post is written by a guest author, Teresa. 

Hi! My name's Teresa, I had an at-home (or in my case, in-hotel room) medical abortion in July with the help of BADP doula Christine. My experience was wonderful and I've been meaning to send in a testimonial of sorts since then. I've been kinda furiously memoing to myself since then about the emotions that came up for me, plus all the surrounding political influences around abortion. All my thoughts go back to feeling uber grateful I had the opportunity to meet Christine and share such an intimate experience with her.

My thoughts:
I found out I was pregnant when I was in Austria, daunted by the glaring "schwanger" confirmation on the two German-language pregnancy tests I took. I felt unnerved, though still in control of my experience. I had comprehensive medical insurance to cover costs and I calculated that I was at about 5 weeks, thus would have adequate time to procure a medical abortion upon my arrival home in the States. I knew immediately that I would request a doula from BADP, and I began picturing what I thought was the ideal abortion environment and experience. I wanted to be outside in nature as I began bleeding, and feel one with all womb-carrying people that had procured abortions before me! Although I had lofty goals of having the most idyllic and spiritually attuned abortion experience possible, I knew the most important element would be my accompaniment.

When I finally procured the Mifepristone and Misoprostol prescriptions, I wasn't apprehensive about my abortion, merely looking forward to no longer being pregnant. Even so, I had begun feeling the hormonal rumblings of my changing, 7-week pregnant body, and I felt as if I was at a crossroads. I ended up having my abortion experience in a hotel room, as my living situation would not have been a hospitable environment. Christine was an angelic presence. She brought snacks, which immediately endeared her to my heart. I was overwhelmed by a great deal of pain for the hours preceding the placental expulsion, and Christine always knew exactly what to say and do to comfort me. She massaged my arms and lower back, reminded me to vocalize and take deep, regular breaths, helped me move around, and engaged in pleasant conversation in between the cramp surges. I had wanted to journal and hold some kind of ceremonial space during my abortion, but it turned out that I was too focused on the physical sensations to think about anything else. And it was Christine who held space for me and encouraged me to step into my strength. My medical provider had given me prescription pain medication but had offered nothing in the way of emotional support. Having a professional, supportive presence to accompany me was infinitely more useful than hydrocodone.

Christine both supported my choice and understood the physical aspects of having an abortion; this intimate support was an incredible blessing. I believe all pregnant people should have access to doulas, regardless of what the outcome of their pregnancy is. My experience with Christine only corroborated this belief, and I extend the deepest, most heartfelt gratitude to both Christine and all of BADP.


June Abortion Doula Training in Pictures

Last weekend, June 1-2, BADP held our first "open-call" training available to anyone interested in providing abortion doula services to their clients and communities. We trained 32 doulas from all over the place, including different parts of the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Los Angeles in California; Portland, Oregon; Colorado; and British Columbia, Canada. We also received some amazing support in the form of donated food and space, as well as a meal specialized for doulas and pregnant folks!

Thank you to the amazing training team, who did a great job making the training a welcoming, informative space! If you are interested in becoming an abortion doula we will be having another training in the second half of the year, most likely in late Fall. More details to be announced in July. 

Here are some pictures from last weekend's training:
One of the training team members, Sally, explains medication abortion to our trainees.

Sally and Poonam show how a provider would dilate the cervix, on a papaya.

Becky shares her experience as an abortion doula. 

Thank you to Hearth Healing Foods for the amazing lunch!

Yania leads the group in some stretching exercises.

Physical support techniques include massage, which is great for relaxation and pain relief.

Participants practice some of the physical support techniques on each other. 

Some of the trainers show off their awesome Bay Area Doula Project t-shirts.

Congratulations to all the new trainees!


Abortion doulas and abortion stigma: finding the link

By Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, BADP Co-Director

Attending the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) conference in Amherst, MA is something of a rite of passage for young abortion activists. For years, when I lived in New York, it was described to me as a mecca for those interested in talking about abortion care, provision, and support – a pilgrimage that many of my colleagues made every year.

‚ÄčEarlier this month, I attended for the first time. It was also my first time presenting. The annual conference, “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom,” is hosted by Hampshire College, a liberal arts school with a decidedly progressive bent (for example, the bathrooms were labeled “self-identified men” and “self-identified women”). For 27 years, the conference has brought together researchers, advocates, clinicians, non-profit staff, community organizers,students, and community members to discuss and create strategies for achieving reproductive justice. For my part, I was there to discuss my experiences working as a full-spectrum doula with the Bay Area Doula Project and researching abortion stigma with ANSIRHInterestingly, these two ideas – abortion doulas and abortion stigma –were continuously linked in numerous presentations.

Why such a salient link? I’ve been an abortion doula for four years, and I would argue that the abortion doula movement arose directly as a response to abortion stigma. I wanted to research abortion stigma because I saw it in front of me constantly: stigma that not only prevented people from reaching out to their families and partners for support, but also reinforced the perception that they were somehow bad, and deserving of pain and unhappiness. I was interested in how to conceptualize stigma, and how to create an evidence base that would allow for services to reduce it.

Abortion stigma perpetuates the idea that people who have abortions have something to be ashamed of, which makes people less likely to seek out social support. Studies have shown that abortion stigma – not the abortion itself – negatively impacts a person’s emotional wellbeing and their relationships. It also serves to divorce a person’s experience of an abortion from the full continuum of their reproductive experiences. For example, we know that one in three women will have an abortion during the course of her reproductive life. We also know that most women who have abortions are also mothersBut because people worry about what their health care providers may think or say, people may not divulge that they’ve had past abortions or unintended pregnancies, which can pose various health risks.

Abortion doulas are individuals who provide compassionate, continuous presence before, during, and after an abortion experience, and employ many of the same pain management and comfort techniques used by traditional birth doulas. Those that began the “full-spectrum doula” movement believed that people who have abortions deserved the same kind of compassionate support that traditional doulas offer to people in labor. This work explicitly acknowledges that abortion stigma – the inferior status of and prejudicial attitudes faced by people associated with abortion – has made it difficult for people to believe they deserve compassion, let alone focused, free support throughout their entire abortion experience. By listening to people, providing empathy, massage, and breathing techniques, abortion doulas can normalize their experiencesbroaden social support for these individuals, and hopefully reduce some of that sense of inferiorityIn so doing, we are fostering a culture of support, and expanding the quality of care that people should come to expect when pregnant, regardless of the outcome.

The CLPP audience was, excitingly, already sold on the value of full-spectrum doulas in combatting abortion stigma, as evidenced by the sheer number of individuals who identified as abortion doulas, full-spectrum doulas, radical doulas. At a time when new anti-abortion legislation is introduced every day, it can be challenging to think about new ways to combat rampant abortion stigma. But what we know is this: the lived experiences of people matter, and the more that we can bear witness to their abortion experiences and support them, the more we are breaking down the structures that keep abortion stigma in place.


Become an Abortion Doula

We are excited to announce that we'll be having our first "open-call" abortion doula training on June 1st-2nd, 2013!

For the first time, we are making our training available to anyone interested in providing abortion doula services to their clients and communities. This 2-day training will provide an overview of abortion procedures and processes, while focusing on the development of pain management techniques and emotional support skills so that doulas can advocate for and support their clients through medical and surgical abortions. The training will include extensive values clarification exercises, in addition to role-plays and partnering practice; we know that everyone brings a wide range of reproductive health and reproductive justice experience to this work, and we want the training to be an opportunity for folks to learn from each other, as well.

When: June 1st and 2nd 10am-4pm. Lunch will be provided. 

Cost: $65/person to cover the cost of materials and meals.  A sliding scale option is available; to request this option, please contact Poonam Dreyfus-Pai at prior to filling out the form.
Fee reimbursements may be possible folks who intend to volunteer with the Bay Area Doula Project. 

To Volunteer with BADP: We are excited you want to volunteer with us! Joining us for a training is the first step. Please make sure to indicate that you are interested in volunteering with us when you fill out the Eventbrite form.  If you already applied to volunteer via our website: We have your information and you don’t need to re-apply via the eventbrite. We’ll be getting back to you in late April regarding next steps in the process. (see below in the FAQs section for more info on the process for becoming a BADP volunteer after the training)

Click Here to Register for the BADP Abortion Doula Training!
Registration closes on May 18th, so register ASAP!

Got questions? Scroll down to our FAQs section.

BADP Leadership Circle

The Bay Area Doula Project provides nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering support to women through the full spectrum of their reproductive experiences, with a specific focus on abortion.  In doing so, we foster a culture that trusts women and supports them through their full range of reproductive experiences.


Is this a birth doula training? Does BADP offer birth doula trainings?
No, this is an abortion doula training only. BADP does not currently offer birth doula trainings, though we can refer you to several fantastic trainings offered throughout the Bay Area. Contact Poonam for more details.

Do I need to be a birth doula to register?
No, you do not need to be a birth doula.  We welcome birth doulas and others with prior reproductive health experience but no prior experience is required -- just come with an open mind, and be prepared to learn from each other!

Can I sign up for my friend?
Each person interested in training must register individually.

Can I pay at the training?
No. Checks and PayPal transfers must be received no later than May 18th  Because the training fee covers the cost of materials and meals, we would prefer that all participants pay in advance.  However, if you cannot pay before the training, please contact Poonam to workout a payment plan.

If I can’t make this one, will there be another training offered this year?
Yes! Another training will be held in the second half of the year, most likely in late Fall. More details to be announced in July.

What’s the process for becoming a volunteer with BADP?
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you will be asked to do an interview with a current member of the BADP training team, and attend a 2-hour orientation in late June. During the orientation, you will meet a few BADP members, receive information about our policies and procedures, and learn about the sites with whom we work. More information, including location and date of this orientation, will be sent out to those individuals interested in volunteering.

Still got questions? Email Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, BADP Co-Director, at!