Why Every Woman Should Experience Midwifery Care

By youronebirth

Georgia O'Keefe

I had the great privilege of experiencing my first visit with my midwife today …before you get too excited mom, no, I’m not pregnant :)

If I’m not pregnant why is it that I had an appointment with a midwife, you ask? I went to see San Diego midwife, Gerri Ryan, for my well woman check up (my yearly pap). You may be wondering why not just go to a gynecologist? But I ask, why go to a gynecologist? (I want to preface here that I have nothing against gynecologist, and if you have a GYN that listens to you, supports your decisions and has your trust then give them a big hug and keep seeing them!) My experience with gynecologists has been detached, unfriendly, and extremely quick visits where there is little time for me to ask a question or where questions & concerns have not been properly addressed.

Flashback to 2009:

I’m 20 years old and living on my own in downtown Chicago. I’m a woman now, right? I figure now is a good time to have my first gyno appointment. I let the nurse know it’s my first visit to the gynecologist  No I’m not on birth control…no I don’t want to be…I just want to know more about my body and make sure I’m healthy…what do I need to know? She asks me if I want a pap smear? I say, sure, not really knowing what I’m saying sure to. The appointment continues on. The gynecologist finally comes in, briefly introduces herself, doesn’t explain anything to me or tell me what she is going to do. All I’m told is to put my feet in the stirrups… giddy up, I guess. (I felt a little bit like Hannah from Lena Dunham’s TV show, Girls http://youtu.be/OsijIQzXjQM) At the end of the visit the receptionist says she’ll call me with the results.

A few weeks later I’m on break from class and see I have a voicemail. It’s the gynecologist office. They left me a message saying my pap smear results came back abnormal and they want to do more testing to rule out HPV. All I hear is HPV and think of cancer and how I’m going to die from it (ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but remember I’m 20). I don’t return to class, instead I walk home crying on the phone to my best friend.

I decide to go to another gynecologist for my colposcopy. I nervously wait for 2 hours. Once I’m in the exam room I wait for another 30 minutes. The gyno comes in and again quickly introduces herself. I lie back, feet in the stirrups. As she takes the biopsy of my cervix, she lets me know I may feel a pinch. Lady, that was more than a pinch. Tears stream down, more so from fear now. Again, the receptionist says they will call me.

A few weeks later…HPV free!

After appointments with 2 more repetitive gynecologists, I think to myself there has got to be another option.

Midwives do more than catch babies!  

Becoming a doula has been the best way to educate myself on the female body and a woman’s options. It wasn’t until I became a doula that I realized midwives do more than catch babies..they also work with women before getting pregnant. The time for my well woman check up was approaching so I asked Gerri if she would see me for my exam. (Not only is Gerri a midwife, but a doula trainer, Chief Operating Officer and a lead instructor for the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery, and very involved in the San Diego birth community).

I was greeted by one of Gerri’s student midwives as soon as I walked up. By the time I was finished using the bathroom Gerri was ready to see me. She welcomed me with not a handshake, but a hug. She spent 2 hours with me. We talked about everything from my health history, to my goals for the future. We discussed nutrition, my cycle, past trauma, my concerns about my body, my family dynamics, and about my abnormal pap. She took the time to get to know me on a personal level and humanized the entire experience. Gerri explained everything she was going to do and asked permission before she did it. She took the time to teach me where my ovaries are. I now, not only do I know how to locate them, but how to examine them for cysts. It was the exact visit I was hoping for when I was 20, someone to teach me, reassure me, and encourage me. Gerri made me feel exactly how I want my clients and all women to feel, empowered.

3 ways you can take control of your body

1. Get to know your body: Have you ever touched your cervix? Or ever seen what a cervix looks like?…it’s pretty remarkable — Check out My Beautiful Cervix Project. To be honest, I didn’t even know that the cervix changed positions throughout your cycle. It also goes from hard to soft, and opens and closes.

2. Tune in with your body: A great way to do this is to keep track of your cycle with an App — I use Kindara app which reminds me to take my temperature each day (basal body temperature), records my fluid levels, helps me determine when I’m ovulating, and logs how long my cycles are.

3. Find a provider who respects you: Do your research when looking for a care provider. Which model of care do you prefer? If you don’t trust your provider or feel like you can have open conversations with them, find someone new! — It took me 4 providers to finally find the one I trust and respect. I know my personality type and I needed someone who is going to take the time to get to know me holistically.

I know that midwifery care may not be for everyone, but respect and trust should be apart of any care you receive.

 

A Tribe of Women

By youronebirth

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I’ve always been proud of being an independent person. In the past I have closed off my emotions to those around me to show my strength and taken on the lone wolf approach -”I’m fine, I got this. I can do it myself.” It wasn’t until I became a doula that I realized the necessity for community. In our society we severely underestimate the power and strength one can receive from the support and encouragement of other women. I know I certainly did.

I am now proud to say that I am becoming interdependent. I am apart of a tribe of women. When I’m feeling alone and discouraged I know I can call on them. They speak truth into my life, encourage me and most importantly, listen without judgement. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and express some of my biggest fears in front of 25 women (most of whom I don’t really know) is never something I thought I could do, but I feel safe in their presence. There was something extremely comforting and freeing about opening myself to a room full of women I don’t really know.

I believe that it is vital for girls/women of all ages to surround themselves with a network of women they can rely on. Not just your mom or your best friend, but a large group of women who can truly see you without bias or judgement. Do you have in your life a circle of women you can confide in? If not, I really encourage you to seek out your own tribe of women. Gather up some girls and get them together once a month to share food and stories. We used to live in cultures of tribes/clans. Day in and day out women used to cook, clean, birth, laugh & cry together. What if we went back to a similar concept? What could we become individually and collectively? I truly believe our society would be stronger for it. There would be less self doubt, depression, anxiety and fear and more confidence, love, a pure happiness.

Welcome to Your One Body

By youronebirth

Georgia-O_Keeffe-Pelvis-With-Moon-1943-large-1019805793

I have always been fascinated with the human body, how it can be empowered, exploited, created, and controlled. Our body is a powerful entity and our perception of it can either be detrimental or beneficial to society and, more importantly to ourselves. In college I became increasingly interested in the female body. I studied the exploitation of women’s bodies in Southeast Asia, watched countless documentaries such as The Business of Being Born, and seriously began to take control of my own body by educating myself on issues of birth control, gynecologist visits, nutrition, exercise etc.

Two years ago I moved to San Diego and my journey as a birth doula began. I have seen some pretty incredible births and the strength of the women I support is astounding to me. I have also surrounded myself with an amazing circle of women who are constantly encouraging & educating me. Last year I declared my doula business as Your One Birth, and while I am still in love with my birth work I feel that it is time to expand into areas outside of just birth. After many conversations with friends, family and women of all walks of life I have realized that there are gaps in our education as women. There are things we are never taught, things that are not talked about, things we don’t share…not even with our best friends. Things like, birth control, your monthly cycle, abortion, sex (not abstinence, but SEX), sexuality, abuse, rape, infertility and especially how the female body is incredibly strong & magnificent. This is why I am starting Your One Body. I want this to be a space of learning, sharing, and educating.

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