Supporting women through the full spectrum of their reproductive experiences

When I got into birth doula work I saw it as perfectly aligned with my commitment to women’s health and reproductive justice. Doulas provide birthing women with physical, emotional, and informational support so they can choose their own best births.  In retrospect, I realize I shouldn’t have been surprised, but at the time I was startled to discover that it’s wrong to assume all doulas also support women’s access to education, appropriate healthcare, emotional support, and the legal freedom to choose when and how to not birth.

However, in the last few years a new movement has been crystalizing around doulas and other birth workers who see birthing a wanted baby as just one of the many possible and valid outcomes of pregnancy.  Full-spectrum doulas still provide all the physical, emotional, and information support for birthing clients that other doulas provide, but they also recognize that birth is part of a spectrum of reproductive experiences and a whole life history of sexuality, which can also include contraception, abortion, miscarriage, and adoption.  Full-spectrum doulas also tend to be interested in the needs of people underserved by birth workers, such as people of color, queer people, the incarcerated, and teenagers.

Abortion is so politicized and polarized in the U.S. that it’s difficult to have an honest and healthy conversation about it.  Nevertheless, it’s a fact of life today that about a third of American women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 and full-spectrum doulas believe all those people deserve support.

Here in San Francisco, the Bay Area Doula Project is one of many full-spectrum doula projects sprouting up around the country.  I feel so honored to be a part of this organization, which has taken on as its first priority making trained abortion doulas available at many clinics throughout the Bay area so that people who choose abortions, for whatever reason, can get the same sort of physical, emotional, and informational support that is available to people (or at least some people) choosing to give birth.

This month, the Bay Area Doula Project is hosting a fundraiser and salon series In honor of Women’s History Month: discussions on sex and the reproductive experience.  The salon presentation topics reflect the full-spectrum approach to sexuality and reproduction. From how hormones change over the course of a month to improving orgasms, and from what full-spectrum doulas do to how placentas can be used as medicine, there’s something on the program for everyone who cares about women’s sexual and reproductive experiences.

Plus, when you make a donation either online or at the salon, you’re supporting a hardworking group of volunteer doulas who believe passionately that everyone deserves human care and connection, regardless of what reproductive choices they are making.  So will I see you at the salon?

A Salon Series In honor of Women’s History Month: discussions on sex and the reproductive experience.

Wednesday Evenings at the Million Fishes Art Gallery: 2501 Bryant Street

March 7th @ 7pm — This Hormonal Life

PMS doesn’t even scrape the surface of how our hormones impact our lives. Learn the little-known scientific facts about how our hormones affect our immune system, productivity, sex life, sleep cycles, moods and fertility. 

March 14th @ 7pm — Orgasm Outside the Box

How do our preconceptions, relationships and emotional experiences influence our sexual and sensual experiences? Join us for engaging presentations and lively discussion on how two women are uncovering orgasms in unexpected spaces.

March 21st @ 7pm — What is a Full Spectrum Doula Anyway?

Full-spectrum doula organizations are cropping up all over the country. What does it means to be a full-spectrum doula? How have the birth doula and abortion doula movements have influenced each other and the care we provide for pregnant individuals? These and other topics will be explored by practicing full-spectrum doulas.

March 28th @ 7pm — All about the Placenta: The Science, Art, and Eating of the Placenta.

The title says it all! Come learn and play with us as we discover the beauty and science of the amazing placenta and the role it plays in women’s heath pre- and post- natal.

$10-20 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds. All proceeds go to the Bay Area Doula Project

To make a donation to the Bay Area Doula Project please visit:

Sarah Whedon

Sarah W. Whedon earned her Ph.D. in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Women's Studies from UCSB. She teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary and is the founding editor of Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth. Sarah's teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction.

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