What a wonderful experience it was to have a training with Mothering Touch! In a room full of labour and birth coaches, doulas, breast feeding guides, and yoga instructors, we were able to both acknowledge the gendered roots of childbearing and parenting, and also to expand our collective imagination of all the possibilities we can create for parents of all stripes and their little ones.
My favourite moment of the training with Mothering Touch was when we were exploring options for how to create space for birthing parents and birth helpers to share information about their gender. In addition to adding a field on their registration form to indicate what pronouns a person uses, the idea came up to ask participants “What do you want your kid to call you?”
This question could unearth some awesome information about gender from lots of participants: Trans and gender non-conforming parents may be able to share words to describe their parenting role. Cisgender people would also have more space to connect with other “non-traditional” labels (i.e. a woman may want to be called “dad,” or a man may really connect with the idea of “mothering,” etc). This question also allows for cultural nuances to be brought into the room, as some parents-to-be may connect with words that reflect their heritage or upbringing.
Mothering Touch has also gone through a process of adapting their handbooks to use more gender inclusive language. At the beginning of every Birthing Handbook, and Birth Helper’s Handbook, readers will see:
This handbook is for you, the Childbearing Parent. We acknowledge that your relationship with your gender, your cultural background, and your body, along with all of the valuable lived experiences you bring with you, will deeply inform how you will connect to parenting. We encourage you to use (and share with us) whatever language feels good for you to describe your body and your role as the childbearing parent. In this handbook, we strive to use language that is accessible and reflective of a wide range of experiences, and we’re always open to feedback about how we can do better.
Nice work, Mothering Touch! I’ve already heard about other agencies both in the Victoria area and abroad who are looking up to you as you help to forge the way forward.