Onwards and upwards: Reflecting on 2018 and preparing for 2019

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for All Bodies Birth! Returning to Boston has been so wonderful, and I am grateful to the birth workers and families who have welcomed me back with open arms. As 2018 draws to a close, I am reflecting on where this year has taken me and how I can build on this momentum for an even better next year! My focus thus far has been on building a solid foundation that I can launch from to serve families in the Boston area with compassion, commitment, and affirmation. Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to in 2018 and a peek at where I’m headed in 2019, including a special announcement!

Always learning, always growing

Some things never change! I love acquiring and refining knowledge, so of course I’ve been in the classroom learning new skills and tools to bring to the community and the families I serve. This year, I’ve concentrated on building my skills in the following areas:

A sturdy placenta that yielded 102 capsules for a new parent!

A sturdy placenta that yielded 102 capsules for a new parent!

  • Placenta encapsulation: after hearing that a fellow doula and placenta encapsulator was looking for more doulas to take on the work and keep up with the demand in our area, I began an apprenticeship to learn more about this amazing organ. This included several months of hands-on work as well as comprehensive training in Bloodborne Pathogens and Biohazardous Waste Disposal, so I can safely and confidently care for placentas with the highest standards of cleanliness!

  • Rebozo work: if you’ve been a client (or even a friend!) of mine, you’ve heard me nerd out over birth history, technologies, and processes — probably many times. The rebozo is one of those amazing tools that I tell everyone about because I believe so much in the power and strength it brings to a birthing space. This year I had the privilege of taking a course with Gena Kirby, whose deep knowledge of the history of rebozo work and passion for its proper care and use were incredibly inspiring.

  • Abortion and loss support: towards my goal of offering full-spectrum doula services — meaning that I care for people through all reproductive choices and outcomes by providing support for fertility treatment, pregnancy, birth, loss, termination, adoption, surrogacy, and the postpartum period — I completed an Abortion Support Skills training through the Full-Spectrum Doula Circle and am currently working on a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Advocate training through QUILT. Supporting all choices and outcomes is fundamental to doula work on the whole, and I am proud to walk alongside people and families through any type of reproductive transition.

  • Childbirth education: this is the big one. I heard from several families this past year that their hospital-based childbirth classes were unwelcoming to diverse families, out of touch with their needs, or generally just stodgy and un-fun. I believe strongly in preparing for birth and the postpartum time, and a huge aspect of that is childbirth education, so I was of course disappointed to hear that families in my community were unsatisfied! This drove me back to BEST Doula Training, where I completed my birth doula certification, to look into bringing their unique, modern childbirth courses to All Bodies Birth. Come April 2019, I will be a certified Childbirth Educator!

A BEST-certified childbirth educator teaches a class how a baby makes its way through a pelvis during labor.

What this means for 2019

Here’s the big announcement! Beginning in the summer of 2019, All Bodies Birth will be bringing you Preparing for Birth childbirth classes! Yep, that’s right: inclusive, exciting, awesome childbirth classes are coming your way! I am so pleased to be hosting BEST Doula Training in April for a childbirth educator workshop, after which I will be getting myself in gear to offer you several class options, including a 6-week course, a weekend course, and a private, in-home option. As a former academic (hello, #PhDoula), I’ll also be creating and leading other workshops and seminars in the community next year — watch for these events in the coming months!

Finally, all this continuing education means expanded options for families in the area. Beginning in 2019, I will have full availability to process and encapsulate placentas, provide in-home postpartum support, and walk through loss or termination with individuals and families in need of these services. My calendar for birth support is open and ready for 2019, too — let’s talk about how a doula can help you have your best birth!

More amazing people coming your way!

What a community of birth professionals we have here in Boston! It’s really phenomenal to see so many people dedicated to improving the quality and experience of reproductive care for all people and all families. Since returning to Boston in May, I’ve been working hard to get involved in the community and meet these other wonderful birth professionals so I can provide in-depth and appropriate connections between families and those who can support them.

One of the most important needs I’ve found to be unmet among pregnant and postpartum people is pelvic floor health and rehabilitation, so I sought out more information on this aspect of reproduction to bring to new parents. This led me to Dr. Melissa Hines, a licensed physical therapist at Wellest Integrative Health, who answered some great questions about pelvic floor health on the blog (check it out if you haven’t already!). My conversation with Dr. Hines is just one example of the many connections I’ve made in the community this year — you can learn about more awesome birth professionals on the community partners page!

What this means for 2019

The community is always growing, changing, and moving around here. I’ll be looking for more great birth professionals to meet and learn from in 2019, which means more guest posts, interviews, and information for families! One guest interview that I’m particularly excited to bring you is about acupuncture for reproductive wellness, featuring Ece Yildirim of New Moon Acupuncture. She treated me recently, and I’m looking forward to giving you an inside look at her philosophy and work!

What reproductive health-related professions and services in Boston do you want to learn more about? Let me know and I will invite other birth workers to share their craft!

Deepening a commitment to affirming and inclusive care

I founded All Bodies Birth to provide a a very specific type of care around reproduction — care that is not just friendly to marginalized people, but informed, at the very core, by issues of power, privilege, and difference. In this way, the practical and the abstract are intertwined in my work as a reproductive justice doula, as I strive to provide compassionate care that is tailored to the unique context in which each individual navigates their family trajectory. Structural barriers that privilege certain types of families and bodies over others necessitate this type of care, and I am proud to have followed through on this foundation by serving non-binary people, queer people, low-income people, plus-size people, religious minority people, and others with support that is attuned to their unique positions in the world. I hope to have done them some justice in a system that is too often unjust and unkind.

What this means for 2019

Providing truly affirming, power-informed care is a process, not a product. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, or to be perfect in my support of marginalized people! Having experiential and theoretical knowledge on these things doesn’t make me an expert — in fact, most days it overwhelms me with just how much more work there is to be done. But you can expect that in 2019 I will keep doing the work, and I invite you to do it alongside me. (For starters, I suggest grabbing Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook, which I plan to work through in the new year as I take a deep look at how my whiteness is shaping this season of my life.)

Hello, 2019!

This past year has set All Bodies Birth up with a strong foundation, a solid community, and a clear direction for the future. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible by being a part of 2018! I’ll be working hard to build on this amazing year and bring my best to the Boston community in 2019. Here’s hoping I’ll see you along the way!

Photo by Meghan Melia Photography. Gainesville, Florida.

Photo by Meghan Melia Photography. Gainesville, Florida.