outlaw-midwives3

We envision anti-violence safer communities where mothers and children heal from reproductive violence, because it is when we are whole and confident in our own leadership, are we able to co-create healthy communities.

Communities in which loyalty to a mother’s choice is 99 percent of being a midwife and in which we define ‘motherhood’ as love by any means necessary.

Communities in which we care for ourselves developing spiritual and physical awareness so that we can hold the space, the energy, the vision for folks to make decisions that center freedom, community and revolutionary love.

We must mother ourselves. Hold ourselves the way that we hold our children. And know that our wisdom is stronger and more knowledgeable and relevant than outside expertise. We must live the lives that are given to us. And trust others to do the same. For the sake of our survival. For the sake of our ancestresses. For the sake of our communities. For the sake of love.

okay the more i read, the more i think this whole, gestational diabetes is bunk.  sorry.  but no dice.

either you have diabetes, and in pregnancy the diabetes became acute (because of the increase of glucose production during pregnancy), or you dont have diabetes.  end of story.

and this whole fear of macrosomia (big babies) just seems to be silly.

there is more emphasis on safety than on consent in the birth world, which is in part why i just dont interact with it much anymore.

i wrote this a couple of days ago to ash.  and then i wanted to expand on it a bit…

consent is so primary in birth work.

online i read way too often of midwives touting safety as being the primary consideration in terms of how one treats another. even to the point of saying that mamas hire midwives to make sure that the birth is safe.  this idea of safety is so ubiquitous that even the controversial ‘trust birth‘ movement says, birth is safe, interference is risky, as if the question on the table is, how do we have the safest birth possible?  do we follow medical protocol, mainstream midwifery protocol, more ‘hands off’ protocol…which one is safer?

but i want to question, why is safety the goal?  why do we first tout how safe a procedure, before we talk about whether the mama has given informed consent?  and why when we talk about informed consent, we often boil down to whether or not the mama consented to this procedure, despite or because of the risk or safety of the said action?  feel me?

what is safety?  being alive?  fitting into the normative ideas of healthy and average?

and how do we determine safety?  through clinical studies?  medical tradition?  anecdotal evidence?  expert opinion?

i wrote this earlier:

my problem with evidence midwifery is that for any position that a midwife advocates for there is an abundance of evidence upholding and illustrating her position.  is circumcision safe or harmful?  is pitocin dangerous or helpful?  what foods are the best to eat during pregnancy?  how much weight is proper to gain during pregnancy?  etc.

all of these and more questions i have seen being debated with both sides having a stackful of decent studies and theories backing them.

and then the question turns to: what is the appropriate and proper criteria that we should use to determine which studies are stronger evidence?

all the while ignoring that the big studies, the double blind ones, the years-long ones are the ones that get government and major university funding and support.  and so we are allowing the powers that be to decide what scientific claims have the most validity.  at the heart of  it, money, how much money a study receives, determines what is considered proper evidence based midwifery.

and i am too much an ancient cynic to trust the powers that be, the ones with the most privilege and the least amount of accountability, to determine what is best for me, my body and my child’s body.

and i love dr john stevenson’s take:

Thirdly, prospective randomised controlled trials are useless, as I shall show later. George Bernard Shaw (or was it Mark Twain?) was spot-on when he said “There are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics.” Statisticians can lecture plausibly, even convincingly, that they are aware of all the pitfalls in interpretation of research findings and know how to dredge up the facts infallibly, especially when applied to prospective randomised controlled trials which are regarded as the ultimate in fail-safe research. But what the statisticians are expert at is dredging up the ‘facts’ that the researcher wants to prove, (possibly more subconsciously than deliberately).

and then i wrote this a few days ago on tumblr to ash:

i guess it is because i think of safety/security as an illusion.  there are no guarantees in life.  and playing the statistics game (deciding ones protocol based on what has proven to be statistically safest or most effective) is a fools errand.  because you can easily find yourself in a situation where you do all the right things and the outcome is horrible.  and you can do all the wrong things and in the end everything turns out just how you wanted.
and if something is 99 percent effective, and you turn out to be that 1 percent, do you really care that 99 other people had difft outcomes?  and what if you are the mama and you lose your babe, because you are the 1 percent?  is your grief any less? probably not.
but yr grief probably is harder if you were told to go against your own motherwit, because the stats said xyz.
and if you did follow your intuition, and the outcome is not what you expected, then at least you can take responsibility for what happened.  rather than blaming mw’s and obgyns etc, ppl who have little accountability to you, and will go on doing their jobs barely remembering you existed a couple of weeks or months later.
i dont know.  i tell mamas, look, everything will not be perfect.  but if you follow your own sense of what to do, then you are taking responsibility for your own life and choices.  everybody has to be who they are.
and from what i have seen if you follow your own sense of what to do, then you will have more self-respect, self-love, self-empowerment.  and the more that we value ourselves, the more we are able to value others around us, including/especially our children.

call for submissions

focusing on pregnancy, birth, post partum, baby and breastfeeding

for and by: mothers, friends and allies of mothers, doulas, midwives, birthworkers, childbirth educators, childbirth advocates,

intention: to create a zine for pregnancy, birth, and the first year of motherhood centering the lives of working class, marginalized mothers and birthworkers.

submit: photos, drawings, visual art
poems, essays, fiction and non-fiction
tips, suggestions, lists of resources

check out the outlaw midwives manifesta and website: http://outlawmidwife.wordpress.com/

outlaw midwives: creating revolutionary communities of love

some suggestions for topics on which you can submit…but these are just suggestions…

suggestions for those trying to conceive.  and for not conceiving.  stories of conception, abortions and miscarriage.

what are the social, economic, legal consequences and limitations for marginalized mothers to make choices about how, when and where they will give birth.

tips for the first, second, third trimester.  relationship with doctors, clinic, midwives, family, friends, etc.

how do our ideas of gender and sexuality influence how we view childbearing, midwifery, and parenting?

Your take on reproductive justice?

how do we resist the high infant and mortality rates?

what are the ways that community could support the childbearing year, mothers and families?

how have you navigated through the systems of welfare, protective child services, hospitals, etc?

reflect on the state of midwifery today.  what do you see as the positives and negatives?  how has legalization and licensing affected mothers and families access to care?

what would you want to tell a soon to be mother about pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood?  or write a letter to your pre-mother or pre-pregnant self about what you should expect.   what didnt you expect to happen/learn/experience in pregnancy, birth, the baby year?  write a letter to you daughter and/or son about what you learned/want to pass on about pregnancy, birth, baby year.

what was your personal experience/story of birth? pregnancy, the baby year?
what did you learn/are you learning from the baby year?

what do you wish someone had told you about early motherhood and/or being a birth worker?
what do you wish you could have said to someone, but didnt?
what is your vision/ideal of how pregnancy, birth, baby year could be?

what family/traditional wisdom did you receive about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding?  what practical tips do you have for working poor mothers?

breastfeeding vs. bottle.  what are the social, biological and economic influences and consequences of the choice to breastfeed or bottle feed?

what to do with the placenta?  placenta art, consumption, burials?

why did you become a birth worker?  what has been the highlights of the experience? what have been the difficulties?

what does ‘outlaw midwife’  mean to you?

keep it simple

deadline may 15

send submissions to maiamedicine at gmail dot com

al jazeera has an incredible series up called: birth rights

Maternal health is about more than just mothers and babies. Across the globe the very business of delivering life into the world is determined by power, politics and, all too frequently, poverty.

There may be a lack of facilities or too much medical intervention; women may be struggling to deliver their babies healthily or trying to control families through the termination of unwanted pregnancies; and the challenges could be rural remoteness or an urban culture dominated by media messages. Whatever the specifics, maternal health and the way women give birth is a global issue that affects us all.

This series takes us on a journey around the world – to Ethiopia, Hungary, Vietnam, the US, Guatemala and elsewhere. We hear a wide range of stories from women in vastly different circumstances, exploring their roles as mothers, the challenges they face around birth and labour as well as some of the ways they are trying to improve maternal health in their communities.

 

the incite blog has a great article: black women redefining agency, organizing for reproductive justice

I think it’s interesting that we have to make a case for black women’s agency.  How do we describe an agency that is exercised on a terrain of political conditions designed to dehumanize and undermine us?  As it relates to reproductive rights organizing, is the mainstream pro-choice framework useful when the available options from which black women can “choose” often reinforce punitive reproductive policies that threaten black womens’ bodies, reproduction, and lives?

doula right thing has a great article up: about purportedly gendered body parts

an excerpt:

I have heard language used by many smart trans people and allies that I would like to suggest as an alternative to language that is invested in the myth of biological binary gender:

  1. We can talk about uteruses, ovaries, penises, vulvas, etc. with specificity without assigning these parts a gender. Rather than saying things like “male body parts,” “female bodies” or “male bodies” we can say the thing we are probably trying to say more directly, such as “bodies with penises,” “bodies with uteruses,” “people with ovaries” and skip the assumption that those body parts correlate with a gender. Examples: “Unfortunately the anatomical drawings in this book only represent bodies with penises and testicles, but I think this picture can still help you get a sense of how the abdominal muscle is shaped.” “People with testicles may find this exercise easier with this adjustment.” “Some people may feel a sensation in the ovaries during this procedure.”
  2. The term “internal reproductive organs” can be a useful way to talk generally about ovaries, uteruses, and the like without calling them “female reproductive organs.” Example: “The doctor might think it is necessary to have some ultrasounds of the internal reproductive organs to find out more about what is causing the pain.”
  3. We can use “people who menstruate” or “people who are pregnant” or “people who produce sperm” or other terms like these rather than using “male,” “female” or “pregnant women” as a proxy for these statuses. In this way we get rid of the assumptions that all people who identify as a particular gender have the same kind of body or do the same things with their bodies, as well as the mistaken belief that if your body has/does that thing it is a particular gender. Examples: “This exercise is not recommended for people who are menstruating.” “People who are trying to become pregnant should not take this medication.” “People who produce sperm should be warned that this procedure could effect their fertility.”
  4. When we want to talk about someone and indicate that they are not trans, we can say “not trans” or “non-trans” or “cisgender” rather than “biologically male,” or “bio boy,” or “bio girl.” When we talk about someone trans we should identify them by their current gender, and if we need to refer to their assigned gender at birth we could say they were “assigned male” or “assigned female” rather than that they are “biologically male” or “biologically female.” These “bio” terms reproduce the oppressive logic that our bodies have some purported biological gendered truth in them, separate from our social gender role. Our bodies have varying parts, but it is socialization that assigns our body parts gendered meaning.
“It’s been interesting, this mental shift from midwife to monitrice/doula. I’ve wrestled with not seeing what I’m doing as a step backward, but a step sideways. A wise woman pointed out that I surely felt as if I was going backwards because so many of us in birth see being a monitrice and doula as a stepping stone to midwifery. But, perhaps the phrase, when asked if she’s a midwife, a woman says “I’m just a doula” needs to be abolished. What if we were able to say, “I’m a doula,” “I’m a monitrice” or “I’m a midwife” with equal pride and delight in our voices.”

- Navelgazing Midwife Blog – Midwife to Monitrice

see honestly, i know a lot of midwives who think that doulas are ‘just student midwives’ and that being a doula is like being a midwife, but with less skills.

wrong.

being a midwife is a completely different set of skills than being a doula.  and the fact that midwives dont recognize this means that they say things like, if you have to be transferred, i will act as your doula, but they arent equipped to handle hospital birth, they dont really understand how to negotiate with the hospital personnel in a way that is in solidarity with the birthing person.  they dont know the kind of emotional and psychological support that is necessary for a doula to provide.  good midwives can make horrible doulas.

i was preparing to be a midwife, when i became a doula.  but i didnt see being a doula as being a stepping stone to being a midwife, i saw a doula in a completely different role.  more like doing human rights accompaniment work in violent situations.  that is what i was doing.

it was powerful work.

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