I had the absolute pleasure of talking to my friend Milan Bell-Watts, who makes talking about women’s reproductive health so fun, interesting, and approachable.
Milan shared 7 topics about women’s reproductive health. We began with information related to pregnancy and birth, and ended with general tips for women to maintain reproductive health. Milan also gifted us a recipe with ingredients that support vaginal health.
1. What is a Doula?
A doula acts as a support person for the entire family, providing physical and emotional comfort, along with informational support. A doula is not a medically trained professional. They are expected to offer evidenced based facts and let you make your own decisions. Additionally, they will share their opinions based on their knowledge and expertise.
Doulas help women to have shorter and less painful labor. Pain medications are often not necessary when working with a doula because they are trained in efforts to make birth as pain free as possible. There are doulas who offer support across the spectrum of pregnancy and welcoming a new child into your life, including surrogacy, adoption, abortions, and still births.
2. What if I Can’t Afford a Doula?
Milan recommend having a doula for every woman. If you can’t afford a doula, find somebody whose practices you agree with, and ask if there’s a way you can work something out for a payment plan. There are a lot of doulas who work for free because they’re trying to get their certification, and doulas who will work for a discounted rate or provide a sliding scale. Ask your midwife and check with your insurance company to learn if they cover doulas. It will be much more affordable than a hospital birth, with hospital births ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, and costs for a midwife ranging from $1,500 to $6,000.
3. What are Some Benefits of Working with a Midwife?
Midwives use certain techniques to support you throughout your labor that avoid some of the measures taken in hospitals. They are with you throughout the whole pregnancy, as opposed to seeing different doctors throughout your pregnancy. One thing people may not know, is that midwives are licensed to prescribe medication in birthing centers.
4. Pain During Birth
When you’re in pain while giving birth, it’s for a reason. Those pain signals send messages to your brain to release endorphins and oxytocin (hormones), which then signals to your body to push the baby out. It’s all a system. Women’s bodies are designed for the birthing process. There is no need to fear, there is no need to worry, this is our makeup.
We are magic. The uterus is a magical creation.
First, it’s not wrong to have an epidural, some women experience severe pain during the birth process. An epidural is an anesthetic, a numbing agent. It numbs the spinal nerves from the waist down, and basically you don’t feel the contractions which usually causes labor to take longer. Some issues that may arise are low blood pressure which can affect your baby’s blood supply, and respiratory distress for mom and baby. Alternatives to a traditional epidural are receiving a walking epidural so that you are able to still walk around, receiving laughing gas, and working with a doula!
6. One Thing Women Should Know
Trust your intuition. From the moment this being starts to grow in your womb, you are a mother. You know exactly what your baby needs. A lot of times people will go against their better judgement. If you know in your heart of hearts that this is not normal pain or have the thought “I really don’t think this should feel like this.” Be vocal. Speak up. Express exactly how you feel and what you need. Be fierce. Be that fierce mama lion. You have to be extremely intentional and vocal about everything that you need in that moment. And do not stop until you get exactly what you need. Do not stop. Your intuition is everything. Before we had doctors and before we had everything, we just had ourselves. We had our minds, and we had other women surrounding us. We didn’t have all the things that come with being in a hospital. Your body knows what to do, and YOU know what to do.
7. Myths and Tips Related to Women’s Reproductive Health
- Periods don’t have to be painful. If it’s painful, there’s an abnormality. The proper nutrition, vitamins, and exercise regimen, and even breath work influence women’s experiences of their periods.
- You don’t have to enjoy every stage of pregnancy. It’s not a requirement. You can feel what you feel and you are allowed to be vocal about it.
- When it comes to reproductive issues (e.g. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, painful periods, fibroids, etc.) be mindful of your intake of sugar and carbohydrates. Pay attention to diet and nutrition. Go back to whole foods. Beware of all the estrogen that is in chicken.
- Natural treatments for yeast infections include using boric acid or garlic.
- Bonus tip: People should have rituals in their life. Whether it be affirmations, something simple like “I’m so glad for this morning.” Do what works for you.
Check out this recipe you can make at home to help maintain vaginal health: