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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Improving birth by breaking the silence

The topic of childbirth is one that women - often those who don't even know each other - often freely engage in. We find ourselves sharing the most intimate details with strangers on what is often the happiest day of our lives. And for some, one of the most traumatic.

But it seems like if your outcome is anything less than happy, women suddenly don't want to hear about it. And when you question the actions of your doctor, or express anything less than total and complete gratitutde to your doctor, then you're attacked, criticized, made to feel like you're selfish for wanting something more or think you're smarter than the physician.

And yet, sometimes these stories still make it out, have a voice, are heard above the din. When "Kelly," the mom who had an episiotomy and was cut at least a dozen times by her physician, told her story, many women did come out of the woodwork. They shared their equally horrifying experiences, told her she wasn't alone, said the same thing had happened to them. It was terrifying and yet vindicating at the same time, knowing that finally these women are confident enough to talk about what happened to them. And with the number of them growing as more and more comments were added and the article continued to be shared, it was clear there were more of than them than not. And it was abundantly clear, even to those who are not involved in birth advocacy, that there is a shocking pattern of abuse in obstetrical care.

If you ask your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother what her birth story is, she may or may not be able to tell you. She may not remember any of it, drugged into oblivion with medication she may have felt at the time she neither wanted nor needed. While things have improved somewhat since then, it's not all that much, considering you still hear these horror stories. Women were given few choices then and to some extent, still aren't, with sometimes well-meaning and sometimes downright cruel care providers making choices for them on their behalf. These pictures continue to give us evidence of that.

I have seriously told women who were not
comfortable laboring at home to either labor in
the parking lot or the lobby but not necessarily
check in. That way you're close to the hospital,
but still on your "own time." How pathetic is it that
women even have to resort to doing this?
I can totally understand where she's coming from.
Photo used with permission from ImprovingBirth.org
Isn't that the truth. Remember Nurse Jenna's
post lightyears ago about "why you need
Pitocin in labor?" This was basically her
justification of it - they need to free up
beds. It's all your fault that you're not
laboring at home longer, even though
we care providers make you feel like it's
the most dangerous thing in the world to
do so. (To read the article, click here.)
Photo used with permission from ImprovingBirth.org
Coercion can often be another hallmark of abusive practices. And as some find out, they agree to the procedure only after much pressure and bullying, only to read in their chart later something entirely different.

The "maternal request" cesarean is often the result of
mom agreeing to a c-section after finally giving in to
bullying, scare tactics, and tremendous pressure to do so
from her physician.
Photos used with permission from ImprovingBirth.org
I am not at all surprised that this is a female physician. I
had similar experiences with one in my OB's practice and
found many of them to be far more condescending and
rude than the male doctors.
Photo used with permission from ImprovingBirth.org
When people say "Just trust your doctor" I think
of situations like this one and it makes
me want to throw up.
Photo used with permission from ImprovingBirth.org
I urge you to go through Improving Birth's FaceBook gallery. Maybe there is a situation that speaks to you or you have one to share - please do so. Maybe you personally have never experienced this and were completely unaware that such a thing existed. It is time for women to stop being shamed into silence and forced to accept something that is "normal" when it really isn't.

More information:
Improving Birth - Advocates for Evidence-Based Maternity Care 

Submissions will be accepted again soon - to submit your entry, click here

2 comments:

Carole Morin said...

I am very surprised by all of this. I live in Canada and for us, a C-Section is the very last resort. A vaginal delivery costs the state much less than a C-Section. I was in labor for 48 hours with my first child and I was never offered this option. In fact, I later learned that there was no anesthesiologist in the hospital at the time so if an emergency C-Section had been required, I would have lost my daughter... There is no good or bad here. The US has a private health system in which a C-Section brings in more profit and Canada has a free state-paid health system in which a C-Section costs much more than a vaginal delivery. Crazy!

Christine Peterson said...

c section rate in Canada is comparable to the states, around 30%, many hospitals more. it is just as bad here statistically speaking.
doctors are still paid more in Canada for a c section, it's not free it's paid for differently and I am a recipient of an unnecessary c section and and an induction I did not want or need. based on "protocol."