|What your doctor - and everyone else - is essentially saying|
is that because you're pregnant, you have no rights.
So "get over it."
Ten bucks says Dr. Pitocin is doing a membrane sweep. And unless he bothered to ask you what you thoughts were about having one, or bothered to explain what he's doing (before he does it!), he has no business whatsoever being up there like that. I repeat: no business. Your body, your vagina. Period.
Just today I saw this question come up in the Yahoo Answers pregnancy forum: "Unbearable pain from internal exam?"
this Dr came shoved her fingers in me really hard i was gona jump out of the bed!! it was soooooo painful and she kept pushing her fingers in and tells me to open wider! which i didnt, i was in so much pain! i couldn't even breath! she took long time checking i did felt her fingers inside my cervix the whole time. she said i am 1 CM dilated with long thick cervix, baby is not even engaged yet. so, why did she take that long to check my cervix and why was it breath taking pain???? now am way to scared to give birth! the pain was unbearable!
I think my blood pressure went up a few points after I read that one. I try so hard not to get furious, or at least not to let it show, slinging harsh words around, but it's so hard. Sometimes you feel you have to simply to drive the point home that this is not normal. Not even close.
I was prepared to get a million thumbs down, and one reader told her to "suck it up." I wanted to reach through the screen and slap her into cyberspace.
Thankfully someone spoke up and agreed with me - which made me breathe a sigh of relief that yes, someone else gets it and no, I'm not being alarmist or paranoid.
I've heard a number of laughable, startling and downright hideous answers to this perennial question, like:
Yes, they can and they will. Do not be surprised that you are not consulted on any procedure.And why not? Are you any less human once you become pregnant?
Are you serious, or just looking for a way to sue for some free money because I don't think that a doctor would do that without consent.This was after a woman asked if it was considered sexual assault. Because everyone knows women just make up stories about things their doctors have done to them, just to get attention.
This person seems to think there must have been something wrong with the mother, as if she were apparently stupid or something for not realizing what was happening:
I find it hard to think of a situation under which that would happen. Did you think he was doing something else? How do you have your membranes stripped without consent. Was he holding you against your will?And at least this person realizes that it's not the sign of a "good doctor," but doesn't agree that it's assault:
I think that's a bit of a stretch. Its not a sign of a good doctor, but its definately not sexual assault.Then what is it, exactly?
One woman, who had her baby at home, "dealt" with the OB at the six-week checkup, surprisingly:
My husband was the one that confronted him on the issue and he apologized.(Yay for awesome husbands!) And just the fact that this OB apologized acknowledges that he knew what he did was wrong.
It's important to note that many - probably more than half - of the stories I came across were from mothers who weren't even 38 weeks pregnant.
Just because he's your medical provider, doesn't mean he has any right to do anything to you without your consent. You are more than just a pod ready to eject a foreign body; you are a human being, who is carrying another human being inside of you. If you don't want to be induced, don't want checks of any kind, then doing an uncalled for membrane sweep is a violation of your rights, as well as the rights of your baby: because it's done in an effort to basically evict your unborn child from its cozy, warm surroundings, where 90 percent of the time, it's better off anyway.
Unfortunately because people think "vaginal exam" when they think obstetrician, they consider this part of the job, and part of the highs and lows of pregnancy. Some of the time, the mother might not even know what's happened, and that kind of creeps me out. I wonder - if a physician does a membrane sweep but yet it hasn't been mentioned to the patient, and she doesn't really express concern, does it get documented? What if mom were to go back and look at her records?
Perhaps this is just another reason why many doctors are reluctant to show you your records: because they don't want you seeing that they did something without your permission.
If this woman were in an empty parking lot at midnight, loading her car with groceries and approached by a stranger who attempted to rape her, this would be assault. But because the man is her obstetrician, that's supposed to make it okay, I guess.
Just like with rapists, these "professionals" get away with it because no one complains. And in this case, the reason why no one complains is because much of the time, no one is quite sure what's being done to them is a problem. Or that it's really being done to them. Too much trust is placed in their hands, and just like a sexual perpetrator, they continue to abuse because they have your trust. I'm not comparing OB's with perps in the sense that they necessarily get off on what they're doing, but in a psychological sense, perhaps they do enjoy the sense of superiority it brings them. I don't think that's limited to obstetrics, but perhaps medicine in general. While there are very fine physicians out there in all fields, no doubt many of them do have a power-tripping God Complex.
No one would ever tell a rape victim to "suck it up." We realize it for the violation that it is.
It's also important to realize that by justifying these procedures as "part of the pregnancy routine," you are normalizing the abnormal: it represents an erosion of the pregnant woman's rights. This is not the first time such a thing has happened in obstetrics (or other medical disciplines), and certainly won't be the last, I'm sure. Take for instance:
• The case of Dr. Allan Zarkin, who carved his initials into the abdomen of a patient after her cesarean. While his lawyers argue that Dr. Zarkin was suffering from a brain disease that impairs his judgment, one wonders why, then, he was practicing medicine in the first place, especially considering he had shown strange symptoms and bizarre behavior up to a year before the incident. No one reported it. In fact, he was made medical director and continued to perform botched operations during his tenure, and was also granted hospital privileges somewhere else after Beth Israel Hospital in NYC revoked his privileges. According to one site, he continued to practice medicine after this case.
• The case of a Kentucky woman who sued her physician after he branded the initials of his alma mater ("UK") into her uterus and then had the nerve to show her the video footage of the surgery. Not surprisingly, many people commenting on the case think that the woman was only out to make a quick buck, and really didn't have a case.
• Dr. James Burt routinely performed disfiguring genital mutilation on patients for years, even after admitting to having done so without their consent or knowledge. This wasn't in some jungle colony where people practiced FGM as a matter of culture or religion; this happened in the United States. Burt supposedly chose "weak women" who were unlikely to press charges. Apparently a break came in the case when a retired nurse finally spoke up, after years of silence for fear of losing her job.
What do you do, when not only can you not trust your physician, but the nurses who work with him? The last line of defense in protecting you from dangers that you can't fight against, because you're not even conscious? And why did it take so long for patients to come forward?
The answer is probably as complex as it is simple: because we tolerate this kind of behavior among those in positions of authority, simply because they're in that position. Whether it's a simple vaginal exam or a surgery, it's essentially the same thing - a violation of your bodily rights and your trust.
• Just like you were taught when you were a child, no one should touch you inappropriately without permission. Not even your doctor. If he's worth his salt, he will explain to you what he's doing before he does it, not during.
• Don't assume that your doctor "would never do anything like that" to you or anyone else. It sounds weird, ridiculous, maybe even paranoid. Ask yourself, "Why does his being a doctor make this okay? Just because he's a doctor?" Sorry, not a good enough answer.
• Don't worry about making your doctor "mad." Remember, he's not your daddy. He's not going to ground you for breaking curfew. The more you know ahead of time, the more it will help you to make the best decisions possible. You can change doctors up until the last minute, and do not feel badly for "firing him" as your care provider even while you're in labor.
• If your doctor does do something that you feel violates you, speak up. There is no reason why this stuff should be considered normal or acceptable, just because you're pregnant. Again, it helps to know what's truly normal and what's absolutely necessary before agreeing to something, but unfortunately you might not get the chance. Do not be afraid to say something, even if you think "it won't do any good." When OB's routinely do these things without so much as the blink of an eye, they probably never expect that someone would complain, and they usually don't - which is why they continue to get away with it.
• Practice informed consent, and if necessary, informed refusal. Just because your doctor says so, doesn't mean you absolutely must do something, no matter how unpopular it might make you become among him or his staff. If your doctor suggests doing a particular procedure, inform yourself as much as possible about it whenever you can. Would you undergo major heart surgery without researching it first? Would your doctor even entertain the notion before doing the surgery. Definitely not. Pregnancy and childbirth shouldn't be any different.
A License to Rape - Birth Without Fear Blog
Dr. James Burt - Wikipedia
Uninformed Non-consent - The Deranged Housewife
Doctor brands woman's uterus during hysterectomy - Owning Pink
Doctor sued for 'branding' patient's uterus (a different story from the Kentucky case)