Finding our own answers

By OBOS — February 8, 2011

Submitted by: Danielle Schuman-Olivier

As an ex-nun and priest, my bewildered parents didn’t exactly know how to talk with their four, teenage daughters about things like our changing bodies and our sexual natures. But they were (and still are) very open-minded people and always had strategic reading material lying around the house.

The chapters in “Our Bodies, Ourselves” captured my attention and normalized so many of the things I was feeling. Later on in college, I got into the habit of collecting old copies of OBOS at garage sales and used book stores. This collection became my reference material as a women’s studies minor and then in graduate school where I became a nurse-midwife.

The learning in midwifery comes from studying, from being with other women during a birth or first pelvic exam, and from my experiences in my own body. Both studying the menstrual cycle and personally tracking my cervical fluid for years, for example, both taught me how to help someone else prevent/obtain pregnancy. Likewise, it was both school and the experiences of my patients, my sisters, and my friends giving birth that gave me the understanding that my body could also do this.

Recently, our community health center has started a Centering program ( for pregnant women. Here we strive to turnover the medical approach to pregnancy and give true care by way of support and education. I am trying to unlearn the habit of answering all the questions but to instead let women speak to each other and, together, find their own answers and voices.

Empowerment—this is one of the hallmarks of my profession and one that I first learned from “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” Thank you!

In this series, readers tell their stories about their experiences with the book and its impact on their lives. View more stories.

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