Bay Area Doula Project launches at home medication abortion support

I absolutely love seeing how the different full-spectrum doula groups around the country are developing their models. At this point, the majority are working to support people having abortions by partnering directly with clinics, so that everyone who comes to that clinic for a procedure has the option of doula support.

BADP just announced yesterday that they’ll be beginning to offer medication abortion support directly to people having abortions.

While providing the obvious benefits of privacy, confidentiality, and comfort, medication abortions pose some challenges to patients who may require extra support during their experience. Our doulas are prepared to offer in-home physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual support during the medication abortion experience. BADP has created a comprehensive model for providing in-home support after months of careful planning and training. To do this, we have consulted with medical experts, home-birth professional doula groups, and abortion access communities to ensure that it has responded to various practical concerns: for example, client contracts will be used to address issues of doula and client safety and legality of practice. The BADP has also created internal procedures to provide on-going guidance to volunteer doulas as they provide in-home support to clients.

Medication abortions are done through a series of pills that the person takes at home (sometimes the first dose is taken at the clinic) and then goes home where they will experience cramping and bleeding for a few days. BADP will send their volunteer doulas to support folks at home while they deal with the after-effects of the medication.

It’s possible there are other doulas out there who have already been providing this kind of support, but I’m excited to see a group organize volunteer care in this model. They’ve also created a training so that the doulas are adequately prepared. I can imagine a lot of the techniques we use during pregnancy and labor could be useful for dealing with the possible discomfort caused by the cramping and bleeding.

Bay Area Radical Doula Guide Release Party

With this being event number 5, I think I can officially call it a tour!

On Thursday January 10th in San Francisco we’ll be hosting a Radical Doula Guide release party benefiting the Bay Area Doula Project, a fabulous full-spectrum doula group. There will be guides for sale, a photobooth, and opportunities to donate and support the fabulous work of BADP.


Thursday, January 10th
Langton Labs
9 Langton St
San Francisco, CA

Hope to see you there!

Facebook event here.

PS Happy New Year!

Radical Doula Profiles: Poonam Dreyfus-Pai

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

I’m really excited about this week’s Radical Doula, because I had the pleasure of working with Poonam when she was part of the leadership circle of the NYC-based Doula Project. Poonam is an incredibly warm person, an fabulous doula, and a dedicated social justice leader.

Photo of Poonam smiling

Poonam Dreyfus-Pai is a researcher, advocate, and full-spectrum doula. She is the co-director of the Bay Area Doula Project, and came to the organization after volunteering for 2 years as an abortion doula with its sister NYC-based organization, The Doula Project. She is currently a graduate student in the concurrent MPH/MSW program at UC Berkeley, with concentrations in Maternal and Child Health, and Management and Planning of Social Welfare Services. Since February 2012, she has been an intern in the Sea Change program at ANSIRH (of UCSF’s Bixby Center), where she researches women’s disclosures of pregnancy experiences and abortion stigma. Poonam is grateful to be a part of the Bay Area’s vast network of organizations dedicated to reproductive justice. She works to cultivate a social environment that is supportive of all people’s sexual health choices and experiences, and is honored to continue her work as a full-spectrum doula with the BADP. Check out the BADP here.

What inspired you to become a doula?

I didn’t known anything about doulas until I came across The Doula Project (then The Abortion Doula Project) in late 2008. When I learned about the support that doulas offer in birth, it seemed obvious and natural to extend that compassionate, continuous presence to people having abortions. I was excited about the possibility of being that supportive presence, and of bearing witness to people’s strength and wisdom during their abortion experiences. Joining The Doula Project in 2009 opened me up to the amazing world of full-spectrum doulas, and remains one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

“Radical” work, to me, means work that is built around justice and inclusivity. I think of radical doulas as working to expand the system, to help all people have empowered and supported pregnancy experiences, regardless of pregnancy outcome, individual income, immigrant status, incarceration status, language capacity, gender, etc — the list is endless. My work as a full-spectrum doula feels radical and transformative because in each individual act as a doula, I am helping people understand that they deserve to be met with compassion, and to receive the highest quality of care, regardless of where they land on the spectrum of pregnancy. We are not only bearing witness to people’s pregnancy experiences; we are learning from their stories. We are creating changes in how people think of these experiences and how they see themselves as empowered agents within them.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?

What I find so incredible about full-spectrum work is its potential to break down stigma. Stigma and silence exist across all pregnancy experiences, and there are so many niche services that exist out there to provide support: for people choosing adoption, people who have miscarried or experienced fetal loss, people who’ve experience adverse birth experiences, and people who have had abortions. The work that these organizations do on a regular basis is amazing and vital, but I would love to see this care taken one step further. If we can recognize that a person may experience many different pregnancy outcomes throughout one lifetime, then why should these services be separated or different from one another? Why can’t people expect the same quality of care from the same support providers each time they experience a pregnancy? When we treat these experiences as though they are not related or relevant to one another, we (consciously or not) create hierarchies, signifying that some experiences are more important and/or more deserving of support than others. Full-spectrum doulas work to eliminate the silos that exist around these experiences, and bring them together under one umbrella. I see this work as vital to changing our reproductive health culture, and want it to be replicated, not just through the ever-expanding network of full-spectrum organizations (whoo hoo!), but among all health care providers.

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