Melissa Yeager, a birth doula and one of the owners of Open Arms, was recently interviewed for the internationally-known podcast "toRaise Questions," on the subject of setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries as a doula. Melissa has had an interesting journey with this question. Having grown up and been educated in England before moving to the U.S. as an adult, she brings to the birthing room a distinctly dry and often bawdy sense of humor, a different comfort level with expressions of interpersonal familiarity, and a different understanding of some issues that many Americans take for granted.
"In England, fewer than ten percent of boys are circumcised at birth. When I got here, it was shocking to me how widespread this practice is." She adds that, "As a doula, I had a really hard time working with women who wanted to be autonomous and maintain their bodily integrity during birth (meaning not to receive an episiotomy), and then one day later they were making the decision to circumcise their infants, and in the process breaching their sons' autonomy and bodily integrity. About a year and a half ago, I decided that I would no longer be able to work with couples who were planning to circumcise. While I realize that this is a sensitive subject and that we all make the decisions we do out of love, drawing this boundary allowed me to continue to practice as a doula."
Yet deciding not to work with circumcising couples also meant that Melissa had no way of reaching out to those couples with the full scope of evidence on circumcision. The lack of knowledge about the foreskin that boys are born with, and even about exactly what circumcision is and why we practice it, led Melissa to create her class, "The Foreskin and Circumcision." In 2015 she was honored with the invitation to present the class to the medical staff at Children's Urology of Virginia, who pronounced it extraordinarily well-researched and highly accurate.
Hear Melissa's interview on the "toRaise Questions" podcast site.