Stirrups and Stories

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By Jill Arnold


The web site for the project Stirrups and Stories shares the following as its purpose.

The project is called Stirrups and Stories: Reclaiming the OB/GYN Patient Experience through Imagery and Words. Its purpose is multi-fold: first and foremost, to give space to the PEOPLE-who-are-patients to talk about their experiences. Who really asks, ‘Dear Patient, so how is OB/GYN care for you?’ Not usually the providers or medical establishment, and other folks tend to ask (in our experience) in one-on-one or friendship settings. But this information is valuable! If we start listening to the people who’ve actually been on the exam table, and collecting their stories, we can discover reasons folks do or do not seek care, what concerns folks actually have, how providers can improve the care they give their patients, what’s going divinely right and what’s going egregiously wrong.

So, Stirrups and Stories is for several groups of people:
1. The participants, so they can tell their stories and express what may have otherwise been silenced.
2. For other people who’ve been on the exam table, who may not have people to whom they can talk about positive or negative experiences in the OB/GYN office… so they can find community, validation, information.
3. For providers, to help them understand what it’s like to be on the table. (We hope to collect numerous and varied images/stories/backgrounds, to eventually also use as a component of sensitivity training for medical professionals.)

And it’s also because, dang it, our health matters! Folks’ right to access and receive care that fits their real needs and values (especially when it comes to reproductive healthcare) is SO important. 

We also want to encourage providers … midwives, doulas, MDs, RNs, OBs, etc … to participate and talk about what it’s like to be a human being practicing in this very unique and important area. We do not want the providers to give us clinical perspectives, but instead the human perspective behind the clinician’s. We think that breaking down the patient/provider dichotomy by encouraging human-to-human communication will improve health outcomes for everyone.


This particular post caught my eye.

Sign reads: Perineal massage needs to be GENTLE on an unmedicated woman.

                    I CANNOT push properly while you are stretching my vagina to my KNEES.

                    Thank you for the UNNECESAREAN.



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