Feminist reproductive health work necessitates community. Meet those who define themselves as feminist midwives, feminist nurses, feminist writers, feminist doulas, feminist students, and many others! To participate as a Feminist Worker, fill out this survey. This series is based on the Radical Doula profile series by the incredible Miriam Zoila Pérez: find the Radical Doula profiles here.
I am a nurse midwifery student studying in the Northeast USA. I’m a transplant from the southeast region – I earned my BSN and also worked as a doula in the Volunteer State. I am maintaining some degree of anonymity with my online identity – I want some freedom to be a little more transparent than I would be otherwise- especially as a student looking for a job! I have experience lots of struggles as a student as well as some great moments – I started blogging just a few months ago as a way to connect with other students and midwives. I’m blogging at UpCloseAndCervical.wordpress.com and tweeting at @UpCloseMidwife.
What brought you to reproductive health work?
Like many midwives and midwifery students, I experience a spiritual calling to care for women and their families in the context of midwifery. I always knew I was going to be a midwife. I grew up hearing my mother tell me and my brother our birth stories on each of our birthdays. Of all the stories I heard as child, these birth stories were simply the best. As I grew up, I knew I had to find a way to make my life’s work a small part of this best story. I wanted to be a person who helped women and families have their very best experiences. I want to put compassionate care into action using evidenced-based practices.
How do you identify with the term feminist?
To me, feminism is an expression of kindness through equality. I am Christian and well rooted in Methodist theology, so that spirituality influences my understanding of feminism, and I learned feminism in the Church. I grew up in a lovely church that consistently affirmed the equality of women in the spiritual and social world-I never felt restricted or devalued in this tradition. My church leaders discussed often how a failure to practice equality breeds pain, suffering, oppression, violence, division. A component of grace is that we can find a new way, we can confront issues of inequality with boldness.
So feminism to me is the amazing expression of holy love. God is love, and that love is complete, full, perfect, and affirming. God’s love says each and every one of us are so very precious and valuable. Period, full stop. No matter what any person look likes, they are fully deserving of God’s love and grace, and thus human love and grace. When we practice feminism, when we make decisions with feminist concepts in mind, when we respect and honor women, when we fight, yell, struggle, and demand equality, the #yesallwomen hashtag…that’s holy work. That’s an expression of God’s sacred compassion for us and our compassion for one another. It’s true kindness.
I’m aware this is a different idea of what feminism is than what many people may have heard before- feminism as a spiritual discipline. But equality, sharing grace by working against the forces of oppression, that’s Christianity. When I practice feminism, it’s in my thoughts, it’s the prayers I pray, it’s how approach women, and how I work solve clinical problems and challenges.
Reflect on two favorite things about your profession.
I love that nurse-midwifery is, to me, a complete fulfillment of what a nurse is. Many midwives have varying feelings about the relationship of nursing and midwifery. To me, midwifery is a full extension of nursing. I just love that. I love that there’s a nursing context to my practice as a midwife and a connection to other nurses.
Another favorite is how broad it is – every day is different! Preconception care, contraceptive care, family planning, GYN problems, annual exams, menopause management, antepartum care, triage, labor sitting, catching, 3rd stage….there really is so much to know and practice! I can’t imagine I’ll ever get bored!
What one aspect of reproductive health work are you currently working to change?
I’m really concerned with the poor contraceptive management I’ve seen in MANY clinics. Many women are very uninformed about their options for family planning and are unaware of methods that are markedly more effective than the pill or condoms. Many women don’t know about how well a copper IUD works for emergency contraception. So I work very hard to tell the story to women – Nexplanon has been more effective than permanent sterilization in some studies. The IUD is a great choice, and it’s what OB/GYNs and WHNP and midwives choose for themselves- it’s the contraceptive of choice for the most informed women.
Describe a project or accomplishment you consider to be the most important in your career so far.
One accomplishment that’s really going to shape my career and training is that I applied for and received the National Health Service Corps scholarship. In exchange for financial support, I’ll work 2 years in a medically underserved area. I’m really proud I received this scholarship, and I’m really passionate about getting the word out to other midwifery students about the program. Midwives are fantastic providers for these underserved areas. I would LOVE to see more midwives participate in the program! If anyone is considering it, please reach out to me as you have questions.
List your top three sources of inspiration right now.
It’s corny, but my husband! I’ve encountered some disappointing bureaucracy in my education. He’s a veteran, so he’s had more than his fair share bureaucratic delays and barriers, so he offers me a great perspective on just rolling with challenges and do good work anyway. He just told me today to never let anything get in the way of being kind and doing your best!
My classmates – they are all so enthusiastic and joyful about where we are right now. A few of us have had our first “catches” and seeing them talk about their experiences offers lots of hope and excitement.
If you met someone looking to work in reproductive health and justice, what words of advice or resources would you share?
Apply for the NHSC scholarship!
Really explore what kind of education you want and where in the country. Ask tons of questions, but also know midwifery /women’s health education is like a marriage – you get the education you DIDN’T sign up for, but you have to stay committed and see it through. You can strategize and adjust and advocate for yourself, but there will be some bumps (big and small) as you go. Expect those upfront and you’ll be less surprised.
Pick up sewing/quilting…if you have the desire and time! It will help your hand skills.
Share a quote that currently is keeping you grounded and motivated.
Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.”