As a midwife, I am passionate about access to health care for all. Education on how our bodies work and universal access to contraception. It is time to move beyond the proverbial “birds and bees” idea of teaching our children and families about reproductive health. When we use cute euphemisms and try to avoid the “tough” conversations it only leads to misinformation. I would like to share two stories that highlight this knowledge deficit;
- I am in a college level Anatomy & Physiology class, the lesson of the day is the female reproductive system. The woman next to me, who is pursuing her second bachelors degree and is a mother of two, makes an enthusiastic statement. “Oh, that is where the cervix is?!? I always wondered.”
- I am a nurse, working Labor & Delivery caring for a young woman having her first birth. She has requested and received an epidural, I have just placed a catheter in her bladder as she will not be able to get up and urinate on her own. Both she and her mother are very confused by this and ask me, “How will the baby come out if the hole is blocked?”
Anyone who works in women’s health care long enough will have plenty of other, similar stories. I would like to use this post as a way to share resources and support. We all need to stand up and take control over our bodies and the first step is education. As a Mother, it is important to me that this critical information comes from me and not the mainstream culture that can be full of bad information. Here are some of my favorite resources;
- Since 1970, the landmark publication Our Bodies Ourselves has been a force for education and support in the area of women’s health. You can learn more about their history here. Are your curious about female anatomy? If so, check out this page on their website. Want to know more about the menstrual cycle, here is a great place to start. Curious about “the change” or how our bodies adapt and adjust as we age? This is a good starting point. I recommend spending some time on the entire website, you will not be disappointed.
- You may as surprised as I was by this, but The American Girl company actually has two fantastic books for young girls about puberty, you can check them out here. Seriously, I was stunned by how great these books are. They have been wonderful for me and my daughter.
- As a woman, it is critical to be able to understand the reproductive cycle. Whether you desire pregnancy or want to avoid it, the first step is to know how the menstrual cycle works in general and how it is expressed in your own body. The book and website, Taking Charge of Your Fertility are an excellent place to start.
- For many women, contraception is an important part of their lives. One of my favorite resources for this is Bedsider. Here is a wealth of information, presented in a fun and informational way. No judgement here, just solid facts about all options.
- Members of the LGBTQ community have their own questions and concerns. The LGBT Health Education Center website is a great place to look for resources.
Clearly, this is a very small list of potential resources. I would love to learn about more, please feel free to share them here. I will add them to the ones I’ve provided and then put them all together on a page here on my website.
Image credit Aubre Tompkins, CNM