A License to Rape

A License to Rape

*I understand there are good doctors and midwives. To those that listen to and respect women, thank you. This blog post is about the many that do not.

Painful, traumatic childbirth, birth rapeRape? A doctor?  A midwife? Yes. Birth Rape to be more exact. I remember the first time I read about birth rape. At first it is shocking to see birth and rape in the same sentence. To be honest, I never thought I would use the term, but it happens and I am not going to pretend it doesn’t. I’ve had enough.

There are many mamas on our BWF Facebook page now. It’s a wonderful community of women (and some men). We often get updates that a BWF mom has birthed and celebrate in their empowering experiences. They may have birthed at home, in the hospital, had a vaginal birth or c-section. It doesn’t matter as long as they felt they made educated choices on what was best for them and their baby and that those choices were THEIRS to make.

This week however, one mama posted something a little different when announcing the arrival of her sweet son. She labored at home, then when she felt she needed to, went to the hospital. She was given the help she needed and continued to labor beautifully. When she was 9 centimeters, that changed.

“The doctor said he wanted to check the baby’s position and the pressure of my pushing. He had been great so far so I let him. While inside of me, he decided to manually dilate the last lip of my cervix. He HURT me. I had bright red bleeding and he BROKE my spirit. I ended up having a c-section.”

We had a discussion about this on our FB page and other women commented about their experiences. Here are a few.

“My mother had just birthed her 6th child (so it’s not like she was new to the game) and her 20 something yr old Dr. decided that her placenta wasn’t delivering fast enough for him to get to his flying lesson. Against my mother’s (loud!) protests, he reached in and yanked it out himself. He scarred her uterus so badly that she had miscarriages for 4 years.”

“It sure felt like rape to me. Of course no one else at that time would have ever agreed. When I compared my c-section and what led up to it to rape, my husband finally understood how horrible it was for me. Do people honestly think if the trauma women incur was no big deal, that we would have such a huge number of women with PPD and PTSD?”

“My medwife started stretching my cervix after 30 something hours of intense back labor. She did not ask my permission or even warn me. The pain of that was even worse than my contractions (I have a very sensitive cervix). When I begged her to stop she kept going, told me to trust her, and that I would be glad she did this. Well what did I do? I had a total complete meltdown and asked for an epidural, which I’m sure to this day is the reason I ended up with a c-section. I’ll never be able to reconcile my decision to get the epidural, but damnit, had she not violated my rights to have my body untouched, I never would have lost it like that.”

In what other situation would one human being put their hand (or instrument) in a woman’s vagina and do whatever they want and get away with it? Even if a woman consents, if it hurts her, if something is done she does not want or she is BEGGING them to stop, it is not OK. Ever. This is sexual abuse. This is birth rape. No man or woman should ever have their body violated in such a way. No doctor or midwife should feel they have the license to do it. No one should say it does not happen and tell women to get over it.

These things lead to traumatic experiences, post partum depression and post traumatic stress disorder. The amount of women with PPD and PTSD is much higher than realized. It is not hormones, it is trauma. It is abuse. It is rape. The trauma many women experience with their births is sickening and a lot women don’t even realize it. Why is this? The AMA, ACOG and media have made it ‘normal’. So many women have experienced it and told that this is just how birth is. Suck it up.

Many doctors set women up for failure. Whether they intentionally do it or not, depends on the doctor.  The road to interventions and abuse is like a tornado. You can get caught up in it, thrown around like a rag doll, and before you know it you are abused and traumatized. I recently expressed my thoughts on this while watching 16 and Pregnant.

Inducing a woman because baby is ‘too big’, it is her due date, there is high or low fluids, baby is too small, baby is breech, and many other reasons doctors come up with is unethical and immoral. If there is a TRUE medical emergency to intervene, that is one thing, but the amount of times that is actually the case is slim.

Here is another BWF mama’s story:

My first baby was “due” June 23rd. On the 21st I had an appointment. My doctor stripped my membranes and told me she scheduled my induction for the following week. (No reason given). She told me to go home, have sex, walk and hopefully labor would start. I had some contractions, but nothing really. I started to wonder if I was in labor, so I went to the hospital. I was told my babies FHT were dropping and that they were keeping me over night. I stayed the night to be told in the AM that the doctor was going to “get this show on the road”. They broke my bag of waters and started pit. The nurse said “Dr. hopes to have this baby here by 5”. She knew I wanted natural (back then I didn’t associate pit and the AROM as unnatural, I was “young and dumb”).

I labored with pit naturally (had an amazing nurse). I was at a 4 and was told that I couldn’t relax enough and my doctor wanted me to have Nubane to help. They told me Nubane makes you feel like you have had a few drinks and won’t get to your baby. I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. I had no control and that’s when the contractions were terrible! Dr. came at this point while I was drunk on drugs and could barely speak to do and exam. During the exam she put in an internal monitor ( I about came off the bed). I asked her what she was doing. “I am putting in the internal monitor”, she yelled. Then she looked at the monitor, said my contractions weren’t strong enough, and turned the dial a few clicks (it should be a click every 30-60 min). I had the most excruciating contraction. She looked at me and said “Now either you can have an epidural now or you can have one in an hour when I take your baby by c-section.

It was 3:30 at this point. I started crying. She wanted to know why I was crying. (Gee I don’t know…becuase you just said the 2 things I am absolutely terrified of in one sentence). I did the epidural. She came in at 4 and told me she wouldn’t be delivering my baby because she had prior obligations. My daughter was born at 9:03 that night. I was left feeling as though there was something wrong with my body. I asked her what went wrong and her response was, “some women just don’t labor well and you needed help”. Obviously, I have learned my body works just fine, thank you, and I am now a childbirth educator and hope to change the birthing world!

~Melissa Holstrom

Yes, women have to be responsible for educating themselves and speaking up. However, they are competing with a fear based model of care. They are being lied to. They are told their babies are in danger, that drugs won’t effect them or the baby and the next thing they know they are exhausted, mentally wore down, and their spirits broken. They become vulnerable and that is when interventions and abuse can easily happen. It happens to the most educated and strongest of women. It happened to me.

The thing is, birthing women are the ones who have to change this. It will not happen any other way.

What can you do?

  • Report any abuse. I know it is a vulnerable and emotional time, but we have to speak up.
  • Find a care provider that will listen to you and respect you. If you see any red flags and if your gut gives you the slightest uneasy feeling, switch providers ASAP. It is never too late.
  • Birth in a place you feel completely comfortable and empowered to make any choices for you and your baby.
  • Make sure your spouse is completely supportive and on board with your wishes.
  • Hire a doula and make it clear that you want them to speak…not for you, but to you (reminding you what you want, that you have a choice or to simply ask that you may have some privacy to make a decision). When you are exhausted and fear is being put on you, this will be needed!
  • Do not start down the winding path of interventions. No unnecessary ultrasounds, cervical exams, etc.

Epowering, peaceful water birthDon’t ever worry about hurting someone else’s feelings. Don’t ever give in to anything you don’t want. Once you do, you make yourself the victim. There is a fine line between a traumatic birth and an empowering one. Don’t give your power away.

307 thoughts on “A License to Rape

  1. LOVED this! I delivered at a birth center in a hospital, and had 3 or 4 different midwives see me in the 36 hours that I was in labor. One of them was SO rude, told me I should not be squatting during contractions because I was only 3cm! Then she told me she was going to check me and proceeded to stretch my cervix from a 3 to a 4.5 while I cried and tried to move away. It was awful!!! I ended up with an epidural at 7cm. Talk about not feeling safe in a place that I picked specifically so that I didn’t feel like I was in a hospital!

  2. Thank you! I really LOVED this too!! My first birth I felt violated.. I didn’t know what was going on.. My midwife (a CNM) pushed for, cytotec, epidural, etc.. 🙁 I felt betrayed.. She put her hands inside me and told me to push there.. (after turning off the epidural because I wasn’t pushing “right”) I didn’t know there was a wrong way.. Since that horrible day 3 1/2 years ago I became a Birth Doula.. Hoping to help women make the right choices for them! Now expecting baby #2, planning a home-water birth with a midwife who is amazing! Hoping for a positive experience this round..

    1. cytotec is a powerful drug not approved to be used on pregnant woman because of the high occurrence of uterine rupture and fetal demise! Hospitals use it because it is cheaper than pitocin… Please look into it more and get the word out!!!

  3. It is so very sad to see so many woman experiencing this kind of thing.
    like in every situation there can be woman who for instance felt so disapointed in themselves for taking the epidural(an example) that they feel the need to put the blame on someone else… there is NO shame in taking the drugs, you are not less of a woman.!!!!!!
    let alone If someone anyone says no to something they should be listen to!!!! but saying this happen, it made me take the drug , then that IS why c section happen is a bit far fetched, there is SOOOO many componant to a birth so many variation, especially in a hospital that it is hard in most case to pin point the exact reason,if there is one, lie I said it could be a combination of event that lead to a c section.
    Great post!

    1. Im curious what this has to do with birth rape. But to address your statement: Pitocin and epidurals significantly increase risk of surgical birth. This blog post isn’t about disappointment in birth plans its about birth rape. Its about women like me that have to beg/cry/scream for people to take their hands out of their vagina. That’s assault, that abuse, that’s violation.

      1. Honestly, I skipped past most of her post because it didn’t make much sense. LOL But yes, you CAN say the epidural caused this – because there are studies to back this up. With all the great that drugs in labor can do, they can also change the experience drastically and lead to more interventions, which is not what some women want. Shame has nothing to do with it.

        And I’d be willing to bet that if truly normal birth were really more the norm that fewer women would want or need an epidural.

    2. You seem to lurk on this page for the sole purpose of being the voice of dissent and mainstream ‘it worked for me and I’m fine’ nonsense. Yes, women can choose meds or no meds, but if it becomes a last resort because a woman is treated with violence and disrespect at the most vulnerable time in her life, that is not a choice. When a medical team holds a woman down to do a procedure, that is not a choice. People like you are quick to rush in to invalidate another woman’s grief, pain, and injury by shushing her, telling her that her well being doesn’t matter as much because her healthy baby was surgically removed by ‘experts’. Do you even have kids of your own, or if you do, were they born in the “good ol days” of doctors who were always ready to slab em and grab em with stirrups, epi, forceps, and gas? Pull your head out, woman.

      1. good grief why so much hate??? I have children and they were born at home… there is no need to be so defensive.
        We ,woman, should stick together, and be able to discuss issue that touches us with attacking each other, and being putting down…
        I have been enjoying this blog and I am stuned to be attack like this when I express my opnions!

      2. So according to the FB page and some of the comments left here, if you have the impression that UC is “risky” you are a ignorant uneducated person…. why don’t we start by respecting each others opinions…???this for both sides!
        instead of spending so much time putting some one’s down for her opinions lets refocus on the true subject , Birth rape , and what we could do to support the victims, and make sure it stops happening!

        1. Agreed Marie
          geez… so if you consider that most of the woman on here and FB are average homebirther(with attendant) and a few hospital birther , those woman who didn’t choose UC most certainnly felt that it wasn’t for them that they weren’t able to do it, that it was probably…….risky…..then all of them are ignorant uneducated persons…. or is it just the unfortunate who speak their mind.
          Tons of friends have told me HB is risky, that is just the way they feel, and they aren’t less my friends for that.
          As long as they voice their concern respectfully,I don’t get defensive, because in my opinion when you get defensive about something someone said ,it s because deep inside there is a bit of uncertainty.I have never felt one bit uncertain about HB so nothing that can be said about it can get me going…
          I feel that this whole thing about Penny comment got way out of proportion.she surely is entitle to her own opinions!

      3. Gosh penny u r a bit rough around the edges….aren’t you?
        Esmom so r u… Saying that someone is lurking around just to disagree isn’t very respectful, she is entitle to her own opinion ,I don’t feel her comment we meant to be rude.
        It almost feels like high school ,where u jump on the person that isn’t perfectly like u….. We all have our opinions and as long as they r expressed in a polite and respectful Way I don’t think anyone should be judge for thinking a bit differently .

        My son was born at home into my own hands so I was lucky not to experience this kind of thing, and my heart ache for the one of you who did!!!!!

  4. With my first I had a typical hospital birth with an obgyn and the biggest problem I had with that birth was when I told the nurses I had pressure and they wouldn’t listen and then my body began pushing. They told me I couldn’t push until the doctor arrived therefore they rolled me onto my side and 4 nurses held my legs shut until the obgyn showed up 10 LONG minutes later. I screamed bloody hell the entire time saying “help, i need to push.” It was downright awful and traumatizing and after I delivered my baby the first thing I said was “I’m never having another baby.” However after much research and realization that birth is not suppose to be like that, I am now pregnant with my second and looking forward to a planned homebirth with a wonderful midwife! It breaks my heart to see/hear what is being done to women in labor. America’s system of maternal care SUCKS!

    1. although my 2nd birth was 27 yrs ago , I can really relate to your story, went to hospital because my water was leaking slowlyabout 8:30 am , doc induced at 12:00 noon, who knows what it was then, didn’t even bother telling me. He told the nurse I wouldn’t deliver until late in the evening. I told my hubby I needed to push about 2:30-2:45 pm . ,told him to go tell the nurse. He comes back about 5 minutes later and sits down, I look at him and ask where is the nurse, he tells me she said I don’t know what I’m talking about. I said “you get her right now”. He goes to get her, she takes her good old time. Finally comes in and says “whats wrong honey”. I say “i have to push”, she gives big sigh and puts her gloves on. Proceeds to check me, and is very startled. Honestly ,I’ve never seem someone move her overweight body that fast before. She calls ther doc, I can hear her say NO , he needs to come right now. They haul me into delivery room, and I say I have to push, they say no pushing , just blow ( I’m thinking are you freakin kidding me). I say “no really I have to push. ” Well guess what, blowing didn’t work, my body pushed anyhow . Nurses seem to be panicing and Doc comes running in, puts on gloves, gives me an episiotomy ( I have no idea why) out pops my son, and doc now thinks he’s my knight in shining armour. Now this happened 27 yrs ago, and I can still remember every detail. Seems as if times have not changed much. They just should have let me push.

  5. Bravo to you for speaking up about this topic. I wish we lived in a world where this abuse didn’t exist and there was nothing to talk about but that, sadly, isn’t the case. I have nothing to add other than thank you again for being a strong voice for birthing women.
    Here’s a blog I posted about PPPTSD http://jjsheart.blogspot.com/2010/10/postpartum-ptsd-birth-trauma-in-us.html
    My prayer is that the more we get the word out, the more mamas, babies, and families will be saved.

  6. I had to stop and start read because this was so powerful it made me cry. It is horrible that this happens to women by peoples who’s vows say “first do no harm”. The winds are changing I think a birthing revolution will be coming to americans and things like this will become criminal offenses with jail time because you are right it is rape. I’ve been raped, birth rape may not carry the same sexual trauma but I’m sure the emotional damage of someone taking away all your power is exactly the same.

    1. Well said. Because of the trust relationship involved and the vulnerable position women are in when they are pregnant and laboring, though it may not technically be sexual, it is just as traumatic as sexual assault. I hope someday there is a legal term that carries that weight and criminal penalties for the perpetrators of these kinds of acts. No means no, and bullying, coercing or flat-out denying her doesn’t change that.

  7. I think you just made something click in my head over my first birth. It was horrible, I do not wish that torture(b/c thats what it was) on anyone. After ending up with an “emergency cesarean” I had PPD for 7 months. I don’t think I ever related my experience to PPD before, now it makes perfect sense. While my 2nd birth wasn’t AS bad…it wasn’t what I wanted. These two experiences, with two different types of care have lead me down a road that will end in our next little one born at home. The stories you added in today are heart wrenching and I send out virtual hugs to every woman who has been through this, because I now realize that I have too. Before this post I had not heard of birth rape. Thank you for posting this.

  8. This was an amazing post!!! My sis-in-law was a victim of birth rape and suffered such severe post-partum depression because of it…and is now going through pre-partum depression because she has such terrible fear of birthing her second child. She now believes that her body is incapable of birthing children and won’t even attempt a vaginal birth. I really want to send this article to her…but I’m afraid she’ll take it the wrong way. I think I will anyway though.
    Keep this up BWF…women like my sister in law really need to see this stuff.

    1. I had pre-partum depression with my second b/c of how hard my first was. I was told and convinced that my body could not birth babies. The key for me was education and support. Send it to her and be her support in this.

  9. Such an amazing peice I know I felt raped by my birth expereance and it was just a down hill slop it ruined my breastfeeding relationship and the first couple of months I felt miserable I thought that maybe I should adopt out my baby several times the first year because I thought she deserved better then me for a mother. I still hurt over it and she’s a year and a half. If I am ever blessed with another child I will have a water birth and it will be at home even if I have to do it with my sister to help!

  10. Until I read a few stories of this kind I had always thought the term
    “birth rape” somehow inappropriate. I imagine most people react like that at first.

    After reading so many amazing birth stories and many stories of violation and betrayal by carers, I understand.

    ITA too many of us accept as ‘normal’, treatment that would never, ever be OK in any other situation and should not be OK in birth. Women need to feel safe, respected and nurtured. Regardless of the way a birth unfolds, (and even in an emergency) a woman should never feel violated by her carers. She should be able to trust them and they have to live up to that.

    Whenever I hear the saying “healthy mother, healthy baby” to justify or diminish a woman’s traumatic birth I cringe – what is healthy about a mother who has been so badly hurt emotionally and physically?

  11. Thank you for this post! I was fortunate enough to have a pretty decent birth experience in the hospital naturally. My next birth will definitely be at home. I do not like being on other people’s turf. There were moments when I felt that they wanted to ignore my birth plan. My heart goes out to all the women who have been birth raped. This is one of many reasons I want to become a Doula. So I can help and educate women to be empowered by their births. I see a revolution happening before my eyes. It is amazing to see all the women taking their power back from people who put limitations on them. Power to all the mama’s and babies! 🙂

  12. These stories make me so sad that women are so disrespected during one of the most important moments of their lives. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced such wonderful midwivwes and OB’s during my 2 VBAC’s. My first birth however was horrible, an ‘elective’ caeser b/c my son was breech and big. I can kind of understand the breech part, but big? After OB delivered my son, he came into my room and declared that I was very lucky I didnt go into labour as he was very big (10lb 5oz) and even if he wasnt breech I couldnt have delivered him naturally. I believed him, it was my first baby, I beleived everything the drs said. My third son, delivered naturally and no drugs after an 11 hour labour and NO TEARING! Was 10lb 6 oz, I would LOVE to track that dr down and tell him this!!!!!

  13. SO well-said! Thanks for putting into words what so many of us have felt for so long. So often we are told, the goal is to have a healthy baby, it doesn’t matter how it comes, just as long as there’s a healthy baby in the end, and that we should focus on our healthy babies and get over our ‘difficult’ birth experiences. It DOES matter!!

  14. Thank you for writing this. I wish I’d known about your site before having my daughter. I’m saddened that so many women are having the same kind of experience I did. 🙁 Hoping for something different next time around.

  15. I hate to say this, but I’ve experienced this as well- however NOT during birth. I was in an exam to determine why I wasn’t getting pregnant (or keeping the baby) and the doctor literally raped me with is fingers. There was a nurse standing there while he did the entire exam. Afterward he told me to get over it, and that he had a $50,000 car and when something goes wrong, he didn’t ask the mechanic what was wrong, he just handed him the manual and tells him “fix it”.

    I was in pain from that exam for days and had nightmares for weeks. Unfortunately I didn’t report him. I felt so scared, and insecure like it was my fault and that I did something wrong (ha! victim mentality, right?) and not to mention my then husband was there too, watched it and didn’t say anything. I felt so violated, so it’s not just with birth, but anything with has to do with patient submission, particularly our most vulnerable parts.

    I am happy to report that I have since had 2 healthy children (with another on the way who will be a UC waterbirth at home) with midwives I loved and respected me, and discussed EVERYTHING that I asked before they touched me. Hope everyone finds care providers like that.

  16. It is amazing the outright LIES that doctors and staff tell women – Nubain DOES get to the baby, and can cause respiratory depression. Had I known this, I never would have requested it. I didn’t have much, though, and didn’t feel like this poor woman did.

    It is completely disgusting that women think this is normal – as if the only two people who are allowed near your vagina, for ANY reason, are your husband and your OB.

    ITA about saying something – ANYTHING – until someone does something about it. The reason more people probably don’t complain is because a) they think what they experienced is normal and b) the hospital doesn’t take their complaint that seriously, which I find horrendous. Even those doctors in N. Carolina who did a cesarean on a pregnant woman were basically given nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Doctors continue to get away with this because women feel that they can’t say something.

    But before you can do that, you need to know your stuff. Know your rights, and your choices, in childbirth. Know that much of what is done to you is NOT always for good reason, NOT always necessary, and that you CAN refuse. Be willing to put up a fight. But you need to be INFORMED. Knowledge is power.

    1. So true, and know that a better experience doesn’t necessarily mean UC. know that there middle ground and that some midwife and doctors are nice!!! you just need to do your homework and find them! I am the saddest for the woman who feel that there only option for a positive birth is doing alone, taking risks that don’t need to be taken!!!!!!

      1. I agree, there are great midwives and OB’s out there and mamas need to do their research and find them. I do want to point out though that having an UC does not automatically equal taking unnecessary risks. My UC was an educated decision between my husband and myself and it was personally MY SAFEST birth.

        1. And I am trully happy than everything went well.it is a bit like a russian roulette tho.it’s either fantastic of tragic, with little room for in between.

          1. That is absolutely untrue. If that is so, then you would have to say the same for a birth attended by a care provider as well. Having a birth where there is complete trust, faith, education and no unnecessary interventions (talk about russian roulette) is not risky. So I guess any birth…attended or not…is either fantastic or tragic?!

          2. I’m with BWF, my UC was my safest birth by far. Being induced at 37.5 weeks with Pit for no good reason and having a hemorrhage afterward because of it, not safe for me or baby. Having an unnecessary c-section because I wasn’t progressing fast enough when amazingly I was only in early labor if not prodronal labor, not safe. Being violated during both of my births by the same man that treated me like a dog on the table, not safe, or moral, or acceptable.
            Fast forward 7 years to my UC, after seeing 3 different practices who treated me like I was a ticking time bomb waiting to blow and discouraging me at every appointment, putting ridiculous constraints on me. I chose to educate myself and trust my body to do what it was designed to do and it did. It was the safest option, to listen to my body and birth naturally and unhindered. Ya’ll can check in the hospital and play a hand of “poke her” all you want, I’ll trust birth and be physically, emotionally and spiritually safer at home surrounded by those that truly have my best interest at heart and are honest.

          3. I would argue that going to the hospital is much more like playing russian roulette than having a baby the way birth was meant to be is. I have chosen to UC this baby not because my last births were traumatic but because they were completely unfulfilling and I knew deep down that was not they way birth was meant to be done. The more learning I did the more I felt that I was indeed making the safest and healthiest choice for me and my baby to just stay home and birth.

            @ Mrs. BWF, you rock!! Thank you for speaking up and saying what NEEDS to be said. I hope your message continues to spread and more and more Mamas really “get” it and that the frightening trend of traumatic and unfulfilling birth experiences becomes a thing of the past.

          4. that is PURE BS!!!!! I have never met a UC who had a tragic outcome NEVER!!!! all of the ones who encountered difficulties resolved them .that is yest ANOTHER mis-information modern medecine wants you to believe!!! we don’t need Docs we dont need midwives we need to trust ourselves and our bodies!!!! if childbirth was dangerous…we wouldn’t be here……wouldn’t we????????

        2. By safest you might want to say uncomplicated/uneventful….lucky…
          I respect everybody’s choice, but lets agree on the fact that UC is taking more risks than with an experienced attendant.No one is judging, not me anyway.

          1. “So I guess any birth…attended or not…is either fantastic or tragic?!”
            In a way yes…isn’t the point of this post??? the tragic part anyway….
            We don’t hear too much about the average/normal experiences, it’s either an orgasmic/estactic birth or birth rape.
            Unfortunatly those bad experiences push woman in places they might not be ready to go, but that is also part of life isnt it?, what you have experienced influence your choices, so if you consider your UC as the most empowering experience ever , think that if it wasn’t for your prior terrible births you probably would have never lived it.
            crazy when you think about it…

          2. @Morgan: I said exactly what I meant. No, I actually can not agree. For me, it was MY SAFEST birth. Period.

            @Penny: Regardless of why I had my UC, it was not risky or playing Russian roulette.

          3. Birth is safe, interference is risky! (Carla Hartley) Birth is messed with and that makes risk. Birth is as safe as life gets (Hariette Hartigan) there is risk in everything, sometimes babies die and its sad but majority of the time birth works. There are no stats on planned unassisted births. I felt safe during my uc, and would do it again tomorrow. This is birth without fear, furthering the lie that birth is riskier than not goes against Mrs BWF and the time and energy she has spent on this blog.

          4. Hey, just wanted to point out that many successful UC’s are not ‘uneventful/uncomplicated’. The ‘events’ or ‘complications’ are just handled in low-interventive ways that do not create more problems like medical solutions do. I experienced dsytocia with my large baby, but because I was able to remain calm and follow my body’s lead with no pressure from outside, he was dislodged by changing positions. A close-friend UCer has given birth unassisted to healthy babies while treating her pregnant diabetes with insulin. Another close-friend UCer has given birth after a week of ruptured waters, with bag continuously gushing if I’m remembering correctly, with seriously prolonged labor probably due to a cord being wrapped around her baby’s neck–two weeks overdue after two cesareans. What’s not high-risk or complicated about that?? There are more than just ecstatic or tragic UC’s, even if you don’t hear about them. Of course, the ecstatic or tragic UC’s get the most publicity.
            Sorry for the interruption…. Back to the birth-rape topic…

          5. I agree that every settings has its share of risks, no doubts about that.I just wanted to call a cat a cat .Most woman that I know of who have UCed never said it was risk free, and safe, they said they took the reponsability AND risks onto themselves.I have never intended to discuss if UC is right or wrong, it is the upmost personal choice.But just like I would say that hospital birth brings more risk of interventions, and potencial of birth rape…UC has it s own sets of risks, it is not an attack at all !!!!but saying it has NO risks isn’t accurate.
            I guess a good analogy would be driving on the freeway with your baby on you lap. in the vast majority of cases you and baby will be FINE.but I wouldn’t say it is risk free,would you?

          6. Penny, I’ve read through your comments on our blog and you always have something to disagree with, but say it in a passive aggressive ‘nice’ way. If you don’t agree with anything I write, then maybe this is not the blog with you.

            No, I do not agree with what you are saying or your analogy, but I am done and not going to debate or explain.

          7. If it wasn’t for you BWF I would have had my son in a hospital, and god knows what could have happen to me….You opened my eyes on the risks of hospital birth, on the true nature of OBs,and I could never thank you enough!!!
            instead my son was born at home with a midwife I found at 36weeks(its never too late to switch) it was an amazing experience, and the thought that I could very well be a victim of the attrocity that are written here make my eyes well up!!!
            Thank you for enlightening me and so many others!!
            when we get preggo again I think we are going to have a UP UC!!!

          8. Comparing a normal biological function meant to continue our species to a man made machine that kill thousands a year is just ridiculous. Birth is safer than not, intervention is riskier than not. A look at history would show you that quickly. The first obstetric text was written by a man that witnessed one birth, that book is still used today. The lie that birth is dangerous is a numbers game if the truth spread like wildfire the profits would plumet! The fearful birth attendant must do everything possible including assault/birth rape to keep themselves necessary! It may only happen subconciously but its done. Women have been deluded into believing they are broken, their sexual parts exposed and manhandled by everyone short of the janitor, then left blooded hurt and confused. That is scary, that is risky. A century ago babies were born at home. With the phenominal nutrition we have now I could promise you outcomes that are right now unattainable. Babies were made to be born, women were made to birth!

        3. I am a UC er myself and while I won’t say uc is risk free…..what is?? They were the risks I was willing to take.now everyone is entitle to their own opinion,I this penny has the right to feel the way she does,as long as she isn’t,or anybody else for that matter,judging me me personally!!!

      2. What I read in this post is that it is sad that anyone has to be push to do anything because of prior trauma. A woman should have never been disrespected in the first place.
        I agree you should NEVER feel like your option are limited by fear, How could you blame someone of wanting to birth alone when her only/prior experience was a birth rape??? she has all the reasons in the world to be scared!!! and THAT is unacceptable!!!!!!

      3. If I hear one more person saying UC is risky I am going to hang myself….just kidding…
        seriously , in my opinion a woman who willingly goes to a hospital to deliver takes a lots more risks than a UC mom who stays alone. at home…. No c section at home ,no episiotomies, no VE, no one to push interventions on you whne you don’t want them….no WORRIES!
        You have to be pretty uneducated to say such a thing, have you ever read a book about childbirth???have you ever talk to a mom who had over come placenta previa stage 3 and succesfully delivered a healthy baby at home alone when the entire world said she had to have a c section??????????
        do so and then you can come back here and tell us what YOU think about UC……
        wait a sec…we don’t give a d*m about what you think!!!!

  17. I’ve been date raped.

    My second birth, which was an unplanned hospital VBAC, was worse. (I say “unplanned” because I had wanted a homebirth, was only seeing a doctor for shadow care, and would not have gone to the hospital if I’d known I was in labour – I thought the labour pains were cramps from the severe gastroenteritis I’d had all day).

    The nurses were holding me down. The hospital looked up who my doctor was and summoned him, along with a neonatologist from another hospital, and the first thing my doctor did when he saw me on my back, naked from the waist down, was snap, “Well, I guess you get your VBAC!” (It was obvious by then that he’d never intended to “let” me have one anyway.) He then broke my bag of waters without warning, without asking permission, without even telling me why he was doing it, and “allowed” me to start pushing, all the while making nasty comments about macrosomia (my preemie was about six pounds, from the looks of her). The nurses – aside from the way they held me down so that I couldn’t get up or get my legs away, I don’t remember much of them, aside from one of them being rather nice and the others being slavishly worshipful of the doctor, probably because they were born in a generation when nurses were still basically ancillary figures who never questioned the doctor or had much of an opinion about anything, let alone initiative.

    I remember pushing so hard that my baby practically bungeed out of me, because I was terrified he’d cut an episiotomy – in one prenatal exam, he’d asked me point blank if I’d be willing to consider a c-section to avoid an episiotomy.

    I remember I was screaming and swearing a lot, and was getting nasty looks and hostile treatment from everybody there except that one nurse.

    I remember they whisked my baby away before I could even touch her, let alone hold her, telling me that I was dirty and germy and might be a danger to my baby, and they kept her at the nurses’ station until an ambulance came in a few hours to transport her little isolette to another hospital, one that had a NICU. I was not allowed to transfer to be with her.

    I remember that I did not protest. I was complicit.

    Like my rape, I had my sexual parts meddled with in ways I did not want, by a person I knew but did not trust or like. Like my rape, I had things done to me that left me feeling sore, bruised, and battered in my body and in my soul, and made me long for a shower to scrub myself clean.

    Unlike my rape, I did not protest enough, and I was left carrying a burden of guilt that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I did not turn into a raging lioness and demand to hold my baby for a few minutes before giving her over, I did not rage and fume and demand to be put in the same hospital as she was in. I allowed the professionals to take her away without even batting an eye. I have no maternal instincts.

    Unlike my rape, which was miserable enough but basically involved the forcing of an act that I would engage in hundreds of times again later in life, this involved something special and unique: the birth of my daughter Liesl. I can’t exactly birth her again.

    The next two times I gave birth, I stayed home, used only a CPM, and did not even avail myself of shadow care. I’d learned my lesson. Never again.


    1. Sarah, I am trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. I am wide eyed and heart is beating fast reading your story. I am so so sorry huh. (((hugs))) How can anyone say what you (or other women) have gone through is anything less than abuse or rape?! Thank you for sharing your story. I am going to direct mamas to come read it on our Facebook page.

    2. Oh God… this makes me want to cry, hug you, hurt people… this is just so wrong. All of it. How the HELL is this LEGAL? Social conditioning has a hell of a lot to answer for.

    3. Ever since i started doing research on homebirth, I’ve heard all kinds of diff stories, some positive. Some have made me feel hurt for the mother, disappointment for her, i’ve grieved for her, I’ve felt anger, disgust, shock.

      but never before have i felt all those emotions from one single story, and it showed in an outpour of tears. It’s women’s experiences like this, that make me want to change the way out hospital system view women in labor. i’m still trying to figure out how exactly to go about this, but i need to weep for women like you to stay motivated and find a way.

    4. So angry and sad for you and the loss of your empowered birth. So very wrong what happened to you, and I am so sorry. You are right that this is something that stays with women forever. Those that havent been through the experience can not understand. But I want you to know that your story matters and we are listening. I hope and pray that you can find some strength and peace for the situation. x

  18. My first birth was amazing and natural, occuring within 12 hours in a hospital. My second birth was more excruciating. The labor dragged on. I wasn’t dilating. My doctor gave me time to think about each choice, yet somehow I still felt rushed. He encouraged me to let him break my water, and a slow and lovely birth instantly turned into a painful and ripping experience. He didn’t force me. But I still cried. Because I knew that the clock had started ticking. So I did not push my son into this world. I blasted him out, terrified of further interventions.

  19. I’m a gestational surrogate. I delivered twins in 2009 for a couple that had no children and longed for a family. I wanted an unmedicated birth, as I had one with all 4 of my previous births. The doctor was reluctant and tried repeatedly to talk me out of an unmedicated birth, but it was my choice. Baby A came quickly and easily. After she was out, the doc decided Baby B’s bag needed to be ruptured. He also realized baby was transverse in my womb. Baby B was NOT in distress in any way, nor was I. However, instead of allowing time for the baby to come down and rotate, the doctor took matters into his own hands and attempted an internal version, as I screamed and begged him to stop. My husband was standing at my head, holding my hands, and also asked him repeatedly to stop. The doctor actually broke the baby’s left humurus while trying to turn him. Five minutes after the birth of his sister, Baby B was pulled out from my womb feet first by the doctor. His poor parents stood there in disbelief, not knowing what to do. What should’ve been a completely joyous time was overshadowed by fear and worry, as the baby laid on my stomach not yet crying. Thankfully, the baby is fine today. After the twins’ birth, the placenta was not delivering easily and the doctor pulled on the cord hoping to get it detached. I ended up hemorrhaging and needing an emergency D&C for retained placenta. I was traumatized for quite awhile from all that happened, but am now pregnant with another surrogate baby (a singleton this time). I am still scared, but I have also found a new care provider whom I trust.

  20. After my natural birth that I thought was going to be totally smooth turned out to be a total stress situation I was rethinking every choice I had made about how to birth my baby and what I’d do in the future. It hurt so much that I was praying for an epidural or a c-section or anything that would make it stop! But when I read these stories I am reminded of the horrors that can happen in hospitals. Fortunately I know now what birth is like and next time I hope to be better prepared!

  21. Sadly, I think almost every woman out there has experienced this. I can say that for the most part, I was just too stupid to know better. No one ever really did anything without my permission, but when the Dr or Nurse said “I’m gonna….” i had no idea that I could say “no thank you”. I was never really ‘asked’ though. That is with 3 induced births, 1 with no pain meds, then finally one home birth that went well.

    The one thing that stands in my memory is my very first was born in a military hospital overseas, I was 20 years old and terrified. I was induced, resisted pain meds, and then when I dared make noise while I was pushing (not screaming mind you, but grunting, moaning, the Dr told me to be quiet and use my energy for pushing. It infuriated me. But the thing that is worse than that is after he was born, I was sitting there, trying to adjust to this new little being in my arms, and the nurse RIPPED my hospital gown off my shoulder and shoved him to my nipple. Ok…I was timid and shy and I wanted everyone to leave the room so that I could try this new thing in privacy. To this day, that upsets me. I never complained to anyone…didn’t really know that I could when I was that young.

    EDUCATE OUR YOUNG WOMEN! Thats the only solution. Educate them so that they know that no matter WHAT they pick, they are in charge, they have options. They don’t just have to do what they are told.

  22. Thank you for this! I had my first child at 19 and was absolutely terrified of birth.(other mothers horror stories) and out of fear did not educate myself. When labor started I was starting to freak out and once at the hospital the on call doctor (my doctor was out of town) decided to speed up my labor and break my water. I told him no, became hysterical but the.nurses and the doctor held me down and broke my water. I felt like I had no say so over MY labor or MY body. I’m glad to see that I am not alone in the outrage and fear I felt. Even if a woman is fully educated or not if she says no stop the doctor should stop. Thank you for sharing this. This is why we should educate ourselves on our bodies, our rights, and for those like me all the facets of labor!

  23. I have heard so many traumatic stories from different women – membranes stripped w/o permission, intestines punctured during an “emergency” c-section, a huge episiotomy done that was 100% unnecessary , and on and on. My own story involves coercion to be induced, then a botched epidural, then the dr and nurses tried to literally force me to push when I knew it wasn’t time, like they grabbed me and forced me into the pushing position, the doctor put her hand where I did not want it and didn’t listen when I told her to get it out so I reached down and removed her, just terrible but not nearly the worst story I have heard.
    For those of us who do not have the funds to get great lawyers, what recourse is there? Statistically, most women who sue hospitals over things like this lose, I looked into it after own my experience but could not afford to pursue legal action.
    Also I have to say that although I do consider these offenses to be grave abuses and would use sexual abuse or assault to describe this, I wouldn’t use the term rape because I feel that clouds the issue.

    1. I am so sorry for your experience mama. You are right, it is abuse and it is assault. It is also rape.


      : to seize and take away by force”

      : an act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force

      : unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent — compare sexual assault, statutory rape

      : an outrageous violation

      The #2 and #3 definitions: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rape?show=1&t=1292051526

  24. After reading the blog and the stories in the comments I’m completely horrified and scared to death of setting foot in a hospital again. I just wanted to point out that it’s not just vaginal births that can lead to a feeling of birth traumatization and depression afterwards. My birth was not nearly as invasive as many posted here, but it was still traumatic for me just because of what happened during & after the c-sec. During an emergency c-sec, I woke up in the ER still cut open and screaming and NO ONE gave me anything to cope with the pain. My poor husband looking on horrified and helpless while they stitched me up. He’s still scarred from it today. How could he fully enjoy the experience knowing and seeing what happened to me?! Not having pain meds until well AFTER they wheeled me into the recovery room. Not being able to or wanting to touch my baby or see her because I was in agony. Having the nurses on the floor unhappy with me because I was screaming ‘NEVER AGAIN’ for nearly an hour, scaring the other women on the floor. Though they never touched my vagina, I am still traumatized over what happened. I still cry about it, think about it, beat myself up over it. I’ve been dealing with my feelings and coming to grips with the decisions I made during the last pregnancy and the helplessness I felt during the entire birth. Finding blogs and websites that have women sharing their experiences about birth, both good and bad, has helped me to heal to a point. I think the only way full healing will occur will be to have another pregnancy and birth on my own terms, with a caregiver who actually gives a damn and has time to explain and talk to me about my options & risks/benefits of anything that I choose or do not choose to do. I was told because of my uterine shape that I’d likely be more prone to breech babies, so another birth is almost too scary to even think of at this point because I’m terrified of having the same thing happen again. At the same time I know that will be the only way I will ever heal is to have another birth. I agree with the post 100% and just wish there was more we could do to stop this abuse from happening to women. There just isn’t an excuse.

  25. Russian roulette? Are you kidding me?
    Having a birth in a hospital in the US of A means a 1 out of 3 chance of having a c-section (which will most likely be unnecessary).
    That is playing Russian roulette with gun with only three chambers and one bullet.
    No thank you.
    You are far more likely to have a safe UC than a safe hospital birth. And I don’t UC.
    That is a foolish statement.
    I don’t gamble with my body or my baby. Especially with odds like that.
    And I don’t care what anybody thinks of it.

  26. I came so close to this with my second birth. It was almost at the hospital, as we were worried about the cost of a private midwife. I went to my first appointment, told the NM what I and my husband wanted for the birth; that we wanted it in the birthing centre at the hospital rather than the labour ward, that we wanted primarily midwife attendance, no pain relief, etc… she listened so sympathetically. Then it began: “Well… if we feel you need an epidural, you’ll get one.” “You don’t get to choose who births your baby, you’ll meet the on-duty obstetrician once you’re fully dilated.” “Darling, about episiotomies and emergency (UNNE)caesarians: sometimes you have to accept that we know better than you…”
    I was almost beaten, thinking to myself: I have to accept it, they’re the pros, I had my first in a hospital with a midwife and I was fine, sure it was a different country and my midwife wasn’t pushy and arrogant… but I’m sure it’ll be fine… until I hit the wall. This woman had her first baby bump under her belt and she was talking to *me* like this? Patronisingly telling me at this point how difficult breastfeeding a newborn is (I had no trouble personally) compared to a toddler, and that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into? The last straw was when my husband and I were driving home: I received a phonecall to tell me I was considered ‘rural’ and therefore could not give birth in the midwife-run centre but had to go to the labour ward… one floor up in the same building. Pardon? So… I had ‘no idea’, I wouldn’t even meet the fellow who was going to birth my baby until five minutes before he stuck hands up my jacksie and now I couldn’t even give birth where I wanted to?
    We phoned around and found a private midwife, we scrimped and saved and had our homebirth. We’re doing the same this time around.
    I would have paid the same money to be at that woman’s first labour.
    My heart goes out to all of you strong women.

  27. So just wondering what do you all think of women who choose to have a birth in a hospital? I have had my son in one and had an amazing experience, with awesome people. Who listened to me, except for the one who was pissed I didn’t want to breast feed, it was a choice and I know you all probably think im the devil bc I didn’t but I had my reasons. But I think having a baby in a hospital doesn’t mean you’re a failer at child birth or anything of the sort. Why do women HAVE to birth not at a hospital to have an amazing birth or that is the only way to be proud?

    1. No please don’t misunderstand. Amazing empowering childbirth happens in the hospital too, but it is not routine. Birth, the way it is routinely (un)supported in the American hospital, is damaging mothers and babies. I am thrilled when I hear of hospital births that are joyful because that gives me hope again. We need respectful care providers who truly support the mother-baby space. You should be proud and share your story with other moms to help stop the birth frightening that so many women are bombarded with. At the same time, awareness needs to be brought to the horrible things people get away with in the name of ‘safety’.

      1. Agreed…both mine were born in a hospital with a fabulous doc…honestly, I would not allow anyone else to deliver my babes. And as a side note, while many women are trying to sue doctors all over this country for the atrocities they committed against them mine was sued because he refused to induce a woman who was simply tired of being pregnant. It’s not just doctors that are the problem but also those who think that it should happen on their schedule.

  28. My daughter was born 5.5 hrs ago in a hospital attended by a CNM. I am STILL haunted by the experience. While it was happening, all I kept thinking was “why are they doing this to me?” “why does she hate me?” I knew very well it had nothing to do with birth.

    She would turn me over, move my body without talking to me at all. She would talk to the nurse and occasionally speak to my doula that she told me not to bring. She looked at the video camera once when she was preparing for an episiotomy that I told her not to do and she asked “Is that thing on?”

    They induced me under false pretenses and when the contractions were so overwhelming they just treated me like I was not even there and did whatever they felt like to me. In such a rush, they denied me an epidural because my midwife wanted to drive her son to school in a couple of hours.

    She decided to “stretch” me and hooked a finger from each hand in my vagina and yanked as hard as she could in each direction. All without asking permission or offering an explanation.

    She had short fingers and had a hard time checking dilation (which she did frequently without asking permission). She put me on all fours to expedite labor but then did all her checks and stretching without warning, permission or explanation.

    She would “check” dilation by ramming her hand into me while I was incapacitated by contractions. She would ram her hand so hard into me that she was literally pushing my entire body toward the head of the bed. I am not sure how she was able to check anything with that method.

    You tell me that isn’t rape just because I signed a hospital consent form when I walked in there. I have had flashbacks, nightmares, revenge fantasies and obsessed about that birth. Anyone who says it WASN’T rape is discounting the nightmare that I experienced.

    My second daughter was born in a peaceful, transformative UC.

  29. Thank you for writing this post. I am a victim of birth rape, and the memory of it dominated my world for the two years after my first baby was born. After a long (3 night) labor at home and 6 hours of pushing, my midwife transported me to the hospital rather than attempt the birth at home as planned. Once at the hospital, it became evident that the baby’s position had changed for the better, and I forgot about wanting an epidural–I just wanted to have my baby.
    However, the doctor had other ideas. The nurses yelled at me and berated me for pushing before she arrived. They took my husband away from me. They put a monitor belt on and refused to remove it even though it was very painful at that stage of labor. The doctor got out scissors and gave me a pudendal block. I yelled at her that I didn’t want an episiotomy, but she didn’t listen. She told me my baby was in trouble, and I believed her. So I gave birth with the episiotomy and required 36+ stitches to put me back together afterward. She wouldn’t even tell me how many, but my husband, then in the room, estimated. It took about an hour to do the repair, and they wouldn’t let me hold my baby. Oh, and the baby was never in trouble–she was vigorous and about as angry as I was. I guess fetal monitors aren’t infallible after all.
    When I went back to this doctor for my 6-week check-up, she told me she was going to check how I was healing. The whole experience of having what amounted to surgery on my perineum was upsetting to me, but that didn’t stop her from performing a vaginal-rectal exam without warning me first. It was horrible, painful, and humiliating. Even as I was screaming and trying to get away, she finished the “exam.”
    My midwife for my second birth gave me back my dignity. I now help women breastfeed as an IBCLC, and I hear many upsetting stories. I am also going to medical school as soon as I finish a short pre-med program. I have seen wonderful MDs training new MDs in how to treat a laboring woman with kindness, respect, and gentleness, and I will soon be able to do the same.

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  31. It is so difficult for me to read these comments. All I can think is, “I am so sorry this happened to all of you!” When did it become such a crime to have a wonderful and peaceful birth and to be proactive about your birth choices? I’m a flute teacher and I absolutely LOVE when my students go home and practice, then come to their lessons prepared! Shouldn’t health care providers love it when women go home, do their “practice”, become educated, and come to the birth prepared? Shouldn’t they LIKE it when women know what kind of birth they want? Wouldn’t that make it EASIER on them? I know as a teacher, the better prepared my students are, the better the lesson goes for ME. It seems to me that all these women did the research and made choices, but providers decided it was “wrong” and wanted to dominate and violate them into “forgetting” about their choices. Why is this? Why do they want to rob women of a beautiful birth? That’s what it looks like to me. They see a woman who has made choices, that if she were left alone, would lead to a beautiful, mostly unassisted birth-even in a hospital. And they HATE that. So they want to meddle and mess things up. They don’t WANT women to have that. I just don’t understand it.

    I do understand that there are great health care providers out there, but there are also truly rotten ones. There are many that make you think that they are great and then at the very last minute, change.

    I am so very sorry to hear these heartbreaking stories ladies.

  32. I’m so glad to see more information about this topic being shared. I wish I had known more about this before my last birthing experience. I don’t know if it would have prevented what happened to me, but at least I would have had some idea that I was not crazy for the reaction I had.
    You can read about my pstd on my last blog post.

  33. I am here because I enjoy the blog, I havent notice a warning that said “comment only if you absolutly agree”.” no debate is allowed unless it goes within the “exact” opinions expressed on the blog”.
    The only reason that I brought up UC, is because I feel that some woman are so traumatize by their hospital experience that they go to the opposite end of the spectrum. I have never judge anyone. It was just a general statment on MY feelings, not a personal attack on anyone!
    I am sorry to see that exchange of opinions aren’t welcome here…I am a homebirther, doula. I think we are on the same side.
    It is obvious that I am being judge for POLITLY expressing my opnions,that differe slightly from yours.
    I was under the impressions that comments where a place to exchange opinions learn from one another , not being shut down.

  34. geez…we all fight to be respected for our choices and opinions whether it is to homebirth or UC or any other way. I don’t feel that Penny has attacked anyone in particular, she just said SHE thought UC was risky, that is HER opinions.
    We are all here from different walks of life,but all on the same team, let’s not debate each others on our opinions, but stick together, and work towards a better health care system where woman are respected, and treated with the upmost reverence,so that the kind of horror we read here will become more and more rare to the point it NEVER happen again !!!!!

  35. It was never my intent to make you agree with me, I was just trying to express my feelings, that’s it!I don’t need any explanation, or a debate!

  36. That was one helluva post!! Bravo.
    “The thing is, birthing women are the ones who have to change this. It will not happen any other way.” It’s about time someone put this point blank into writing.

  37. I wonder how many of you have lost a baby at birth? My sweet little Laura lost her life at home due to shoulder dystocia, while I know my midwife did everything she could to release her shoulder, I do carry some guilt, guilt for not going to the hospital at the first signs of trouble.
    I would chose a horrendous hospital experience to hold my sweet angel in my arms today.
    I guess it al depends on your perspective…

    1. I am so sorry for your loss mama. It can happen to any of us in ANY birthing situation. Which is why I always say each mama has to choose the best birthing options/place/support FOR HER. (((hugs)))

  38. Perhaps what Penny is saying is that once you take the first pregnancy test, you should seal yourself in a bubble until week 40 hits and you’re ready to give birth. 😛 Maybe we should check into the hospital a month in advance, chained to our beds, to prevent something from happening? Like a precipitous labor in the car, perhaps, that is …. wait a minute …. unattended?!?!


  39. I hadn’t ever thought of my birthing experience as “birth rape”. It is hard to put “rape” and “birth rape” on the same level, as I am a victim of both. I don’t know that I would catagorize this a rape, however, these women, and I, were violated and taken advantage of, and if that isn’t rape I don’t know what it.

    While birthing my daughter, an induced, grueling 26 hour labor that ended in emergency c-section, I thought I was doing what was best for her. She had a two vessel cord, something they watched very closely and recommended that I be induced at 39 weeks, as this was healthier for the baby because the fluids can become toxic the longer you are pregnant. It was better for her, and at that point any mama-to-be will do WHATEVER is best for baby. I started my inducement at 0% effaced and barely dilated to 1, this should have been a sign that neither baby nor mama were ready, but I had to do what was “best”. I started with cytotek, which forced my cervix to soften enough to fit a foley bulb in and fill with water to force dilation. While inserting the foley bulb, my husband and a nurse had to hold me down because I was screaming and wrything in pain. I haven’t ever felt anything like that. I told them to stop, but I was told they couldn’t because they had already started and this is what would keep my daughter healthy. The stess of this caused her to flip and then came the back labor. 14 hours later, after they manually broke my water, my daughter’s heartbeat stopped, my body reacted to the pit and was having back to back contractionsand my baby couldn’t handle it. One emergency c-section later, I gave birth to a daughter who was on oxygen for the first month of her life because she was born to early and wasn’t ready to be here yet. All this time I was trying to do what was best, when really, your body was created to what needs to be done, and looking back, doesn’t need much intervention. I am scared to death to have another child because I don’t want to have to make those decisions again. It is very hard to say no to a dr. you want to believe has your baby’s best interest in mind.

  40. Is anybody reading Penny’s comments before attacking her? She’s not one of the bad guys, she’s clearly pro-woman, pro-empowered birth. I know this blog is in support of UC, which she acknowledged, but decided to leave her comment in the spirit of “women shouldn’t choose UC out of fear.” Isn’t that the title of this blog? For those women who feel they have no choice, birthing in that way could be Russian roulette. Why can’t they be supported and loved and given control while assisted, too? In her experience, a birth attendant is helpful, and keeps her birthing fearlessly. Because there are no good studies about UC safety, it is reasonable to conclude that birthing UC does not have the “safety net” having an unobtrusive birth attendant does, *just* as it reasonable to conclude UC is safer b/c of no outside stress interference, etc. Mrs. BWF, we agree on many things, but I don’t think the comment by Penny was taken in the right way, and she’s not one of the bad guys.

    As for birth rape, it happens. To pursue any lawsuit, though requires living the injustice everyday of your life until the trial is finished. If you’re doing it anyway, sue the slimebags.

  41. I do not feel that I was “birth raped” during my first birthing experience, but that does not mean that I was not traumatised, terrified and heartbroken by the way that it went. My Ob seemed like such a lovely guy – actually, I’ll rephrase that. My original Ob was an asshole, but thankfully I went way passed my due date and ended up with the on-call guy who was LOVELY. Like the majority of first-time mothers, I was completely naive about childbirth, about the hospital system – about everything. I trusted the doctor and the midwives and thought they knew better than I did. When my water broke the day I was supposed to be induced, I rang the hospital (thoroughly excited, i might add) to find out if I should come right in, and of course I had to. I live very rurally, and the hospital I chose was 2 hours away. So off we went. I had regular contractions all night – and of course they had me hooked to that bloody machine half the night, too, so even if I could have got some sleep between contractions, being flat on my back with a beeping machine right next of me kind of killed that idea. By the next morning I was in a lot of pain – I’d been (excuse the language) shitting my guts out all night, passing some mucus also, but the midwives were all really patronising, telling me I probably wasn’t even in labour yet, and my body probably hadn’t done anything. Anyway, the axe was hung over my head: if I hadn’t done much by a certain time, they were going to hook me up to that bloody drip. Turned out I’d done a lot more than they thought (they were surprised), but they hooked me up anyway. I wish wish WISH I’d known I could have said no! Because I know now why I ended up having (you guessed already, didn’t you?) that bloody c-section! To their credit, they “let me” labour for 33 hours before they mentioned c-section to me (although after reading a few things, i now know once they hooked me up to that drip there was no way my baby was coming out vaginally), but yeah. That drip. That’s what did it. That’s what fucked everything up.

    I am now 11 weeks pregnant with my second child. I can’t afford a home birth – independent midwives are the salt of the earth, and justifiably charge as much. But, I’m doing the best thing I can to ensure I am uninterferred with – I am reading EVERYTHING. And I have hired myself a doula. I’m also going to a hospital that has had quite a few VBACs through there, also the same hospital where my very own doula had HER VBAC. So, I’m feeling really confident and able to achieve my own empowered birth! I’ve never considered having a UC birth, but love that there are women out there doing it and setting examples for all of us. Thank you to everyone of you women out there, whether you agree or not for speaking up – the more we know, the more power we have! We should all be able to birth without fear!


    1. Miranda you truly believe that UC are setting and example for the rest of us?
      I think every woman sets her own example , there isn’t a better one or worst one just because of the choices she made!
      Your story is just as inspiring as any UC story! ;0)

      1. Yes, let’s not get carried away by the over romantization of that practice! an empowering Birth(and mama) is one that has a satisfying birth that’s it! no matter where she is! a mom that makes an informed choice and that is happy about it, THAT is setting the example,not JUST because she did it alone!

  42. I think in the spirit of debate many women here have overlooked the whole point of this blog. It’s to raise awareness. AWARENESS. Of rights, of consequenses of actions, and above all to share knowledge. There are many many many points on either side which are valid, the kicker is right here though: it depends on the woman. Nobody here is ‘telling’ anyone to do anything out of their comfort zone, in fact it is encouraged to stay within your comfort zone, as I believe one thing we’ll all agree on here is that a comfortable mama promotes a positive birth experience, whatever your inclination. For goodness sake, opinions are all well and good, but when they’re put across agressively (or passive agressively as the case may be…) whatever the intention, one must take into account that on the other side of the internet the reader cannot see facial expressions nor hear inflection.
    Now I keep and breed pythons, I love my reptiles, and there are a fair few people who don’t agree with that. I’ve had my fair share of people commenting on pictures of my ‘reptababies’ who seem hell-bent on (ignorantly might I add), describing just how disgusting they are, slimey, cold, etc etc… this is irritating. If I don’t like something my friends are comfortable with I will let it go rather than go out of my way to minimalise their passion. MrsBWF is a woman with a passion for natural birth, she has the education behind her (and the experience), to choose where and how she will birth, and I am sure she is intelligent enough to have covered as many bases as one can when taking labour into account. This is what is comfortable and good for HER. For others it’s a midwife. For others it’s a birthing centre. For yet others it’s an obstetrician…
    Whatever happened to tolerance?

  43. Hi all, Thank you for sharing your stories, I wanted to just say that it is not ok what has made you feel this way and that everyone deserves to be heard and to have control and information throughout this process. I am learning from your stories so thank you! i thought I would also put on here an amazing Brisbane based Birth trauma group for any Aussie mums or mums to be or anyone to access the online information and support. Birthtalk.org

  44. I had my second baby six months ago. I feel so very fortunate to live in the age of the Internet, and to have the option to research and subsequently to CHOOSE. Thanks to various portals, newsgroups, blogs, and such, I educated myself on many topics and chose to birth naturally. I got my husband on-board by taking a Bradley Method class. I continue to research parenting and nutrition, and feel that I have options in everything I do. Thank you for your work on this blog.

  45. At this point, no more comments about UC will be approved. I feel this has turned into an unhealthy debate about something that is not related to the original post. In doing this we are taking away from a very important issue…birth rape.

    I appreciate all of you sharing your comments and experiences. I have cried through most of them. I think this is a start. We can heal together and make changes. Keep talking about it, make different choices next time, find the right support, and allow yourself to heal!

    I have seen a few posts derive from this post and I ask that more of you share this post or write your own! This is a very serious issue and we need to shed light on it. We are the ones that have to make the change.

    I know there are many women who have and will read this that will see your comments/experiences and no longer feel alone. Thank you for being brave and speaking up.

    ~Mrs. BWF

  46. This blog captured my attention when I started reading it, relaxing after a very long day at a birth that I didn’t manage but was “elected” by the client I had seen during her pregnancy. I am truly sad for the women who have been demeaned/assaulted/victimized. These posts have been very good for me to read. I have questioned myself – have I ever manipulated or coerced women into doing what they did not want to do? I don’t think so – I learned as a nurse before becoming a nurse midwife from one of the doctors that examining a patient against their consent was assault!!!
    Have I ever reduced an anterior lip when a patient was in agony? Yes, but only with their permission. Have I ever put in internal monitors and intervened with amnioinfusions to prevent even more interventions, e.g., unnecesareans? Yes. Have I ever agonized over the right thing to do? Yes. Have I ever questioned myself after a birth? Yes. Have I ever prayed for women during their pregnancies and while they were laboring – almost every time except when it occurred so quickly and spontaneously that I didn’t – but I have always thanked God for the beautiful births and for the little ones and their families. I can share many positive birth stories that were surreal in their magnificence that occurred in the hospital setting. Typically these are very prepared women who have done their homework and are in charge of their bodies, minds, and spirits who tell me what to do for them rather than taking a passive role. Thank you so much for this very emotionally charged and motivating blog!

  47. I am absolutely horrified at some of the traumatic experiences shared in this blog and from the women posting on here. Then I got to thinking about some of my experiences and while I wouldn’t call them birth rape, they were traumatic never-the-less. My first labor I was pumped full of petocin and swollen EVERYWHERE! I was tired and because my son and I were exhaused and starving I nearly gave up on nursing (thank God for a wonderful and supportive mom who wouldn’t let me give up!) My second birth went fairly fast and smooth until all 10 pounds of baby got stuck (because he has broad shoulders). Two nurses went on either side of me and punched down on my uterus as hard as they could and he shot out, tearing me and causing him to pass meconium and requiring him to be wisked away without me getting more than a glimpse of my baby for 2 HOURS! Thank God once again that my son was ravenous (and not fed by the nurses) because he was a great nurser, and that is the only way we were able to bond at all! My third son’s delivery was really good compared to the other two and the hospital is now WHO certified so they are much more baby/mama friendly. I would still prefer to have my baby in a birthing center or at home though, especially after hearing how much worse it could be! Thanks so much for courageously sharing your stories and helping women to be more informed of their rights. As for the doctors, nurses and midwives who preform those atrocities… they will get theirs and often karma is very unkind.

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