Supporting pregnant people, birthing individuals

Supporting “Pregnant People”

As birth professionals, we are obligated to support pregnant people. In our changing society, that can look very different from client to client.

Have you ever watched Roller Derby? It’s an awesome sport and if you haven’t had the pleasure, you should take time to come to a game and support these strong, athletic people from all walks of life. They are young, they are older (but never old), they are moms/dads, they are single, they are married, they are lesbian/gay, they are straight, they are everything in between, they stay home, they are professionals. You get the picture, it’s an incredibly inclusive sport. Roller Derby gives people the chance to belong. It allows people to define themselves. They don’t have to be caught up in gender roles, or expectations about what other people think. Each individual decides for themselves. If a person wants to use male pronouns, no one thinks twice about that, because ultimately, it’s not important. What is important is that the person feels comfortable in their skin.The team will support them to be the best skater (or whatever role they choose) that they can be. During the game and on the track, the part that matters is that they work together as a team. As a team, they respect how each individual sees themselves.

We can take this into many other areas of life. We all want to be respected and seen, how we choose to be seen. Transgendered people are no different. There has been some discussion lately in the news regarding transgender people and I feel inspired to write about this. There are people in the birthing community who want to define us into gender roles and pronouns unnecessarily. It all started with a decision the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) made in 2014 regarding a change in language to be more inclusive to all people by using more gender friendly terms. Specifically, the language that was used previously regarding “mothers” and “women” was replaced with “pregnant people” and “birthing individuals”. This language takes nothing from women and allows for those who self-identify as any gender to be included. It supports women, it supports men, it supports everyone. In fact, it supports feminist views for wanting equality between all sexes (Feminism Definition). Pretty great, right?

Unfortunately, in August, a group who identifies themselves as Women-Centered Midwifery (WCM), which includes Ina May Gaskin, “the mother of authentic midwifery,” submitted an open letter stating that they believed that how people refer to themselves is less important than a midwife’s view of a person from a biological standpoint. They believe that taking the word “woman” out of the language was somehow detrimental to women as a whole. In reality, and to people who are transgendered, it’s an insult to them personally for WCM to claim that. Our biology is only one part of who we are. It may sometimes define us, but it doesn’t have to limit us.

Sun State Doulas does not agree with Ina May Gaskin and Women-Centered Midwifery in this matter. We believe that gender inclusive terms allows people to define themselves. We do not feel that this language takes away from women. It merely includes all people instead of limiting them by pronouns and gender. We work with all people to support and respect them in their decisions, in all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. For these reasons, we will be changing the language in our contracts to reflect the terms “pregnant people” and “birthing individuals.”

Because every person matters. All decisions matter. We are a team. Teammates respect and support each other.

About the Author

Kimberly Hertz

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