I started volunteering one afternoon a week at a nearby hospital. Basically, I show up to the pediatric and perinatal units and work with whomever the staff therapist suggests I do. She then introduces me as the yoga – mindfulness specialist and encourages them to take 10-15 minutes with me for a personalized, stress-reducing, mind-body break. Sometimes, I do a little yoga and/or relaxation with a child and /or their parent(s). Mostly, I work one on one with Moms. These women are understandably wound-up and worried. They are fearful and trying to hide it. They are super-stressed themselves while trying to manage everyone else’s stress.
When the therapist reassures them that she will stay with sick the child and gives them permission to go with me to a quiet corner, they usually do so gladly. They know they need to take care of themselves, but they haven’t had the time or the containment to take a deep breath, let alone process their own feelings. So that’s what we do … mindful, somatic self-care and regulation. I meet them where they are and support them with my attunement and guiding words to come into the present, to feel their bodies, to identify with their fluid health, and to observe and allow the sensations of their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. In the process, their systems down-regulate into a slower, more grounded, balanced, and peaceful state.
The therapist and staff at the hospital tell me that I’m making a big difference for everyone, not just those with whom I work. This surprised me at first. But after some thought, I realized, of course. Those women that feel better are then able to set a whole new tone for the entire family as well as the doctors and nurses serving them. Then, I received an email from IPPF with facts about the correlation of women’s health to global health. In honor of Earth Day, I share them. They illuminate the macro effect of what I experience supporting Moms one-on-one at the hospital.
Fact: Women’s health and the planet’s health are inextricably intertwined. There’s a powerful ripple effect that emerges from women’s empowerment: Women are healthier. Children are healthier. Death and disease go down. All as a result of simple investments in basic technologies like condoms, the pill, and prenatal healthcare.
Fact: Scientists from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health report that improving access to family planning services is the most cost-effective way to address food insecurity and climate change. They estimate that a $9.4 billion annual investment in reproductive health could slow climate change by reducing emissions by up to 29%.
Fact: Global health experts say investing in family planning is a development “best buy” that accelerates efforts to reduce poverty, achieve gender equality, and create healthy and sustainable communities.