Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?
One key question to ask yourself to help guide you to make informed decisions about your reproductive life and family planning goals. Everyone should have the option to decide when and under what circumstances to get pregnant or expand their family. This question is great tool to promote reproductive justice by helping Black women to be empowered in their child bearing choices.
Many people try to stop Black folks from procreating. Forcing birth control pills on someone is not a good way of providing informed choice care. As a Black woman, my reproductive choices have been largely controlled by White people. I remember after having my first baby, my doctor asking me several times at the hospital and in the 6 week check up, "so which birth control do you want? The IUD or the mini pill?" I wanted neither but I chose the latter after feeling like the former was being pitched to me like a shiny new car and I didn't want any parts of it because I personally am just freaked out by IUD's knowing it would just increase my anxiety with a foreign object being in my body for 5 whole years. The regular pill, combination one with estrogen and progesterone is not compatible with my body after discovering it was elevating my blood pressure. The mini pill, progesterone only has made my cycle irregular and interferes with my mood too much in my opinion of myself. I'm honestly not even sure what my body feels or is like without birth control and it makes me a bit worried about future fertility issues due to prolonged usage of it combined with my "advanced maternal age" bullshit.
When I was younger, I always knew I wanted to be a mom and give birth, I even used to "practice giving birth" after watching my sister have her first baby when I was 12 years old. I was always super intrigued by the birthing scenes on movies and TV. Hence, why I became a birth worker after 10 years of being a stay at home mom and 10 years in the Hollywood production scene as a casting director. As I started to do more birth work, particularly working with the BIPOC community, I noticed something...birth control was being shoved down our throats like candy all the whilst a lot of us are struggling with fertility for a variety of reasons that are being untreated because they are being under diagnosed.
As I worked more with people, I learned more about choice and what is means and how much power that holds for some of us. Suggesting birth control is a form of reproductive injustice and it's being mostly handed down to women of color. This dates back to when they tested it on us and then used it to sterilize us and prevent us from procreating after they were done forcing us to procreate during slavery times. Not to mention, how they controlled our reproductive systems for their benefit and wealth. How sick is that? And you WONDER why Black women have such a huge issue with birth control and even just audacity of people suggesting it to you as a Black woman shakes to the core sometimes.
However, as a modern day woman, I do see the advantages of reproductive life planning not necessarily birth control in it's most common form. I've been on birth control pills since I was 17, I'm 36 and the mere thought of that actually kind of churns my tummy. I decided I would like to start cleansing my body from this birth control for two reasons. One, to have another beautiful healthy pregnancy one day and two, because I'm tired of this shit in my body it really is doing a number on me in all the ways and as I age, I would like to start natural family planning as a form of birth control. I've been tracking my cycle for a year now and have a hold on it and learning to better manage my premenstrual symptoms and raging PMDD, like PMS only worse...I saw it once referred to as werewolf week, let's just leave it there.
I know the road to having a cleansed womb is a long one but I'm prepared to do it and excited to be free of the additives to my body and it feels like the chains of reproductive slavery are going to be broken! However, there are some reasons when we want or need to be using some form of birth control. In that case, let's be sensitive to the harms done before and know that if we want to encourage or educate Black women on reproductive life planning, we have to reframe our dialogue around it. Motivational interviewing, trauma informed, peer to peer and Power to Decide's One Key Question are good places to start. Power to Decide’s One Key Question guides health & social service providers, to routinely ask their clients/patients about pregnancy desires and goals and offer personalized counseling and care based on their response. The One Key Question approach is patient-centered and focuses on equally supporting those who want to get pregnant, those who do not, and those who are ambivalent. One Key Question addresses health equity, including perinatal equity and maternal and child health.
So, I ask again...Do you want to become pregnant in the next year?
Yes - Let's start a health and wellness plan that accounts for preconception and early prenatal care if you should become pregnant. This would include finding a primary care provider and/or medical home as well as doing things to care for your body in preparation to house a healthy fetus. Visit places like: www.mamaglow.com & www.wovenmidwifery.com
No - What would you like to do to not become pregnant? Here are your birth control options to find something that fits your body and your life. Go to Planned Parenthood or use an online service like HERS to get birth control more easily than going into the doctor's office or clinic which can be difficult to get into last minute. Always be sure to speak with a health care provider on switching birth controls and starting new ones. Work with a holistic or alternative health provider to treat side effects of some types of birth control. Don't forget natural family planning is a real method, but you must be consistent! www.rootandsoul.com
Maybe, Not Sure, Don't Care Either Way - You're open minded and that's great! Let's find a way to keep you healthy and in the event you should become pregnant, you will be well prepared to handle it. I'm talking take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid daily to help in the early weeks of fetal development when it is most crucial, in case you start growing one in there. www.melaninmilksd.com Is probably the right place for you to stay educated on all your choices should things change.