Among healthcare providers in our society, attitudes about sexual pleasure often range from dismissive at best to disgusted at worst. Because of this, many people utilizing healthcare choose to keep details about their sexuality to themselves, even when some intervention may be helpful. Our first session will explore sexuality during the childbearing year through two different lenses. We’ll talk about the anatomical and hormonal changes that take place throughout those 12-ish months. We’ll also discuss cultural norms and assumptions that new and expecting parents have to confront in their communities and within themselves. This session will also briefly discuss sexual dysfunction, some solutions, and when to refer for more extensive care.
The United States saw a decade where LGBTQ rights were dramatically expanded, and public opinion swung to openly support those rights. However, since the last presidential election, the political tide is turning the other way, and LGBTQ people are once again growing more hesitant to reveal much about their orientations and identities in healthcare settings. Historically, queer folks have often delayed or rejected appropriate medical treatment in an effort to avoid discrimination. And unfortunately, many mainstream health care providers have never become comfortable working with non-heterosexual folks.
Our second session will provide a thorough look at what it means to navigate our health care system as a queer or gender variant person, focusing specifically on the childbearing cycle. We'll discuss the full spectrum of queer and trans folks, and how build respect for people of all genders and orientations into your practice. There will be a robust discussion of terminology, looking at common words and phrases to describe both LGBT people and their anatomy. And finally, we'll leave plenty of time for your questions and concerns.
Southeastern Wisconsin is home to a very large community of folks who incorporate kink into their romantic and sexual relationships. In our area, there is also a growing population of folks who practice ethical non-monogamy at varying levels throughout their lifespan. Not surprisingly, there is some overlap between these two populations. Though our culture has very narrow definitions of “love” and “relationship,” the reality is that there are many ways to experience both of those things. There is no single right way to be sexual or to experience love and affection.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, at some point in your birthwork, you will undoubtedly encounter someone who is a member or one (or both!) of these communities. If you are open and accepting, your clients will be able to turn to you for information and support during a time when they need it most. Our third session will include information about the spectrum of ethical non-monogamy and how it may play out within various families. We will also talk about kink: What it is, what it isn’t, and how people can still play safely during pregnancy.
When a person is subjected to sexual violence, there can be repercussions throughout their lifetime. If there was physical trauma, especially if it wasn’t properly treated at the time, there can be residual issues. Even without physical trauma, the very real emotional damage can also come up again years later. Because pregnancy is often a time for reflection and getting in touch with our bodies, survivors of sexual violence may have physical or emotional issues arise any time during the childbearing year.
In our fourth session, we’ll discuss some of the ways sexual trauma can directly and indirectly impact expectant parents. Additionally, we’ll talk about how to sensitively screen for previous sexual trauma, how to help your client process unexpected feelings, and how to recognize when it's time to refer a client for additional care. It’s important to have tools to use in the moment in the event that a client is negatively impacted during the birth itself, so we’ll go over some common coping strategies.
Our fifth session will cover two different topics. Our primary focus will be to review the role of consent in the healthcare setting. We’ll discuss how to ensure that your client gets complete information about any potential intervention, and then gives full consent to any care provided by the healthcare team. It’s also vitally important that both doulas and midwives remember to obtain consent before we provide any support or care. Because we know ourselves to be compassionate and well-intentioned, it sometimes happens that we offer comfort measure or care techniques without verbal consent. Usually, our instincts in these situations are spot on, but occasionally, each of us will miss the mark.
During this session, we’ll also spend a little time discussing sex work and its impact on pregnancy and birth. As a birthworker and sexuality educator who is a supporter of sex worker rights, I have spent time researching the ways that sex work and family life intersect. It’s imperative to remember that all people are deserving of quality care and respect from their healthcare team. We’ll spend a few minutes unpacking cultural beliefs about sex work, and looking at what risks to pregnancy may occur as a result of occupational hazard. We’ll also discuss how to effectively advocate for a client who is also a sex worker when discrimination is encountered in a healthcare setting.
After a five sessions of thinking about inclusivity and examining our own practice, it’s time to put it all together. There will a short review of all of the topics we’ve discussed. We will have grown individually, and as a group. But of course, we’ll all still have more growing to do in the future. We’ll spend our sixth and final session discussing the things that challenged us the most, and whether or not those things have now “clicked” for us. Each person will have the opportunity to share ways they hope to integrate the things they’ve learned into their lives and their professional work. We will brainstorm more ways to be inclusive in the future, and potential topics for further research and discovery.
In-person Training Registration Information
There are no in-person B.I.T.S. trainings scheduled currently. If you're interested in hosting a training in 2022, please reach out!
Online Training Registration Information
Use this link to register for the upcoming online training (which you can attend from anywhere). We'll cover one session each week for six weeks. The dates are March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4 and 11. Each session is four hours long, with time for a break or two built in.