Alison Marie Dubiner, Nu’21
I say “birthing person” in place of “mother” because women are not the only people who give birth.
Since my sophomore year of college taking Nursing 215, the Nursing of Women and Infants, I knew that I wanted to work in reproductive health.
I remember my first day of this course in which my professor, Mamie Guidera, said this class should not be called the Nursing of “Women” but rather the Nursing of “Birthing People.”
This distinction is something that many people are unaware of nor have given much thought to. It is important nonetheless. Women’s health is a widely accepted way to refer to the fields of obstetrics and gynecology – obstetrics referring to care before, during, and after pregnancy, and gynecology referring to care involving the genitalia which is classically considered as female by society.
This does not work because women’s health is no longer equitable to obstetrics and gynecology. There are people who get pregnant and have vaginas who are not women.
During my time at Penn, I worked with the Mazzoni Center in South Philadelphia on how to increase the rate of cervical cancer screening among transgender and nonbinary people with cervices.
For context, transgender refers to someone who does not identify with their sex assigned at birth, and nonbinary refers to people who do not identify with either male nor female. (This is a gross oversimplification, but it’s a start, feel free to go to https://genderspectrum.org/articles/understanding-gender for a more in depth explanation).
Also, there are women who need healthcare who don’t have vaginas, nor uteruses. My point is that, as healthcare workers, we need to be more conscious in the future to not equate overarching statements regarding obstetrics and gynecology to a women’s only field.
During my senior spring semester, I worked on the postpartum floor, Silverstein 8, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I loved every minute of it!
The vast majority of my patients were cisgender, heterosexual women – cisgender meaning identifying as their sex assigned at birth, and heterosexual meaning sexually attracted to the opposite sex – but on occasion, there are patients who do not identify as such.
I have cared for transgender patients who identify as male, and I am sure that as I pursue my career as a postpartum nurse further I will have the privilege of caring for more transgender and nonbinary.
It is essential that we, as nurses and other healthcare professionals, do all we can to make all of our patients, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community, comfortable.
Asking a person for their correct pronouns, name, and preferred anatomical terms is essential to proper patient care and should be implemented into standard practice.
It’s Pride Month, so these issues are extra clear in our minds, but we should strive for inclusion all year round. So in short, yes, I love babies :)
To submit your own story, visit www.nursing.upenn.edu/humans.