In her newest book, Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, And Letting Go, Amy Wright Glenn uses these words to describe what birth doulas do, but she could just as well have been describing doula support for any transition out of pregnancy:
"We offer comfort measures, healing touch, and encouraging words. We serve as compassionate companions at a most transformative time. The doula is a constant reminder that pain does not have to equal suffering."
Our society shames and punishes young mothers. We don't make it easy for them to access the support they and their children need.
These young people get caught in a double-bind when they are pregnant. On the one hand they are judged for choosing abortion, but then they're also punished for choosing parenthood.
Instead of feeling shamed, pregnant and parenting adolescents deserve to feel pride, support, confidence, and love.
So how do we support these young people and their rights to determine their own reproductive lives?
How do we promote access to the resources that young people need so they're empowered to choose whether, when, and how to have sex, to end a pregnancy, to carry a pregnancy to term, or to parent?
How can doulas prepare to serve young people without judgment?
Melinda Morales, doula and founder of Project Teen Birth, discusses this topic with us in a Full-Spectrum Doula Circle which is now recorded and available to listen to by anyone who's registered for the Full-Spectrum Doula Circles.
The idea of a full-spectrum approach to pregnancy support is really quite radical.
Did you know that the Doula Project in New York City, the first group of its kind in the country, started off as the Abortion Doula Project before they realized they needed to broaden their scope and be prepared to provide support for the full spectrum of pregnancy outcomes?
In the January 2018 Full-Spectrum Doula Circle, featured speaker Poonam Dreyfus-Pai said:
"A full-spectrum doula is someone that is willing to be with someone in the midst of a pretty enormous transition, a bodily transition, sometimes an emotional transition, an immense transition out of pregnancy... regardless of what the outcome of that transition is."
The outcome could be birth, it could be abortion, it could be miscarriage, stillbirth, or adoption.
I want to have more conversations that put all these pregnancy outcomes on a spectrum instead of in silos, and that consider the spectrum of race, gender, class, and all the other important ways our identities shape our pregnancy experiences.
I want to have more conversations about how we approach care work differently when we adopt a full-spectrum approach, and about what the relationship is between full-spectrum care and a reproductive justice framework.
I want to talk about why it was big news when the first combined birth center & abortion clinic in the U.S. opened in 2014.
I want to talk about what professor and full-spectrum doula Jessica Shaw calls "the affinity between birth activism and abortion activism."
One way we do this is with a monthly online gathering (okay, so it's a webinar, but that word sounds so cold and corporate) of the Full-Spectrum Doula Circle.