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Embodied Consent

Do you also celebrate birthdays in February?


In my immediate family and extended family there are so many birthdays in February!

We have one on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 25th, and the 26th.


What is in the air in May/ June? It is a beautiful time of the year! Not too hot, not too cold and everyone is apparently feeling good.


Something about celebrating life with family brings me so much joy. Hearing everyone share bits and pieces of their birth story. One of my sisters has 3/4 of her children's birthdays in February. As I enjoy asking my mom about her birth stories, listening to my sisters' experiences is also an important and fun part of February. Listening in on her experience and how it is similar and different in many ways to my mother's experience sparks so much interest and extensive conversations at the dinner table.


I have learned about the things that my mother and my sister really enjoyed and things that were also not pleasant for them. This information has also helped me in showing up for the families I support in the best way possible knowing the things that may be very helpful to them and also the things that may not.

 

My mom shares something about the time she was pushing that may not be the most pleasant to read if you are pregnant or recently postpartum. Please take your time as you read this story and take breaks if you need to. You can also simply skip this information if it gets too uncomfortable.


I share this story to provide education and information so that you may have a better experience OR if you had this experience as well, you could know you are not alone. The feelings you are having from that experience are valid and you are deserving of support to heal from your experience.

 

If you are not familiar with the anatomy of your pelvic floor, I would like to share some brief information for understanding of this story. From top to bottom the anatomy goes as follows; clitoris, labia, vagina, perineum, and anus. The Perineum is the space in between the vaginal opening and the anus, this is the region that can tear during birth.


As my mom continues to share the story of how I came earth side, she shared; "my gosh how it hurts when they are pulling you open!" She told the doctor that as soon as she hit 5 centimeters I would be coming very quickly, the doctor did not believe her and did not arrive on time for my arrival.

In 1995 episiotomies were common and the nurse which was helping my mother deliver me was suggesting one. However, since the doctor was not there, they were not able to perform one. My mom was pushing on her back and the nurse was "helping" me make my way down by stretching with her hands the vaginal opening. My mother shares that my heartbeat was lost during contractions, and she was put on her side. They placed pillows to support her and was brought back on to her back to push while the nurse forced her open. My mother recalls this as being an extremely painful experience and needing stitches after my birth.

 

Spinning Babies explains and teaches us how to manipulate the mothers body to understand and help babies descent during labor. Having my mother turn side to side while she was pushing helped me maneuver my way down the birth canal.

 

The form of "helping" is often dismissed and has been integrated into birth as something that is passing as "normal" A provider inserting their fingers into your vagina to widen the space, carve open the canal, use their fingers as forceps, rush the birth, is not necessary and is often described by birth givers as assault.

DO NOT mistake this for a perennial massage!


This deliberate act of aggressiveness can look like both hands forcing open the path, pushing down on the perineum, running fingers side to side in a carving sweeping motion.


This is not only a violation when done without consent, but it can also create more perineal tearing in the process. It is time for people to keep their hands and fingers to themselves when it's not necessary or consented by the birthing person! Boredom, not knowing what to do with your hands while you wait, or impatiences is not an indication to put fingers inside someone's body.


When she shared this with me I did some research and learned this was unnecessary. My mother was put through an unpleasant experience and suffered unnecessary tearing due to her medical team being aggressive, invasive, unprepared, and impatient.

Please know that you can put in your birth plan as well as verbally let your medical team know if you would or would NOT like this type of assistance while pushing.

You always have options.


 

Have you heard of the term embodied consent?

Imagine you are getting an exam, an exam of any sort. You are laying on the table and your care provider asks, "are you ready?"

You verbally say yes, but your care provider visually scans your body and notices your eyes are tightly shut, your legs are crossed and you are holding your breath.


Now imagine you are going to receive a massage. You get undressed and on to the table, you are covered with a sheet and warm blanket and soothing music is playing in the background. Your therapist comes in and asks, "are you ready?" You verbally say yes, and your therapist visually scans your body and notices your breathing has slowed down, your body is relaxed on the table and your release a loud sigh ready to get started.


Embodied consent is when you verbally say yes, but your body also says yes. We are very quick or it can be easy for us to verbally consent to something but if our body is not ready to receive what ever is going to happen, that experience could be negative to us.


Embodied consent during labor and birth is very important! Ensuring your medical team is respecting your body and that you know everything that is being done to you before it comes close to your body. Ask for a minute if you need it before a procedure, give your body a moment to give you an answer before you verbally respond. If something does not feel good trust that feeling and go with it!


If you would like to learn more about embodied consent book a free consultation with Tia Jasmin. Here she will provide you with resources and classes available to support you and your family in your birth preparation.


 

A gift for Tia Jasmin?

I am so glad you asked! I am feeling extra blessed this year and so happy to say I am currently not in need of anything. I have however been thinking of the following.

In 2019 I was looking for a studio to rent for my business. I found what I thought was a great place and I went ahead with the process. When I was writing the lease agreement with the manager of the place, she asked me the name of my business. I told her "Oxomohco" (OH-SHO-MO-KO) and she turned to look at me and said, "What?" I repeated the name to her, and she rolled her eyes at me saying, "No one is going to remember that."

I have now been in business as Oxomohco Birth & Body Work in my own office since 2020 and have served many families.

With that being said, I would like to invite you to send me pictures and or videos of you and or your babies saying the name of my business. Write a review if you have not already and help up lift my small Indigenous business. You can send these pictures and videos via email, Instagram, or the WhatsApp. (I am not an Apple person, so no texts, SORRY!)


Continue to support my small business and share my work with others. It is not easy running a small business but each of you make it so worth it!

Thank you for your support!

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