A License to Rape

by Birth Without Fear on December 9, 2010

*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.

Share/Bookmark

{ 277 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

This is exactly why I became a childbirth educator and doula. It still breaks my heart that women are treated this way. If it’s not okay to do to a woman who is not having a baby, then it’s not okay at all… ever. Period and end of story.

Thank you for speaking up and sharing this for all to see. Love what you do! <3

Reply

Meredith December 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I finally got a copy of my records from the hospital. The doctor didn’t document his “manual dialation”/birth rape at all. My midwife says it is so common that that is probably why he didn’t document it. He put in the notes that my labor “stalled”….. well after birth rape I can see why it would have “stalled” in his mind….. ughhh I am working on a writing up a letter to read to him. I know I won’t get any closur unless I speak up and say something to him.

Reply

Mary Bennefield January 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Meredith …. as a professional I must tell you that regardless of how “routine” anything is; we have a legal obligation to document every single thing that we do!! First of all, he should never have done anything with your explicit consent so to have done this and then conveniently “forgotten” to document does not set well with me at all! I hope you give him a tongue lashing that he will never forget and (if it were me) I’d send a copy to the State Board of Medical Examiners too!! (Even if you doubt they will actually address the issue.) I am sorry this happened to you … makes me quite angry that women are treated this way!!

Reply

Sharalyn January 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’ve never classified my birth experience with my son as birth rape, but it absolutely was. I’m now planning and preparing for a home birth with my daughter almost 10 years later because of medical issues that have stemmed from that birth. Looking back, there should have been a lawsuit, but I was just so relieved to finally get *home* with my baby, that I didn’t bother. I wish now I had.

Reply

Christal January 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Can a hospital kick you out for refusing a procedure? I had a bad experience birthing my first child and will be delivering out second this spring. I want to have a home birth but it’s not possible, so I’m planning for a hypno water birth in the hospital. I want to be confident that I can refuse ANY procedure if I feel it’s medically unneccessary.

Can you be too bossy when it comes to things like this? I certainly don’t want a repeat of my last experience.

Reply

Mrs. BWF January 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

Hi Christal. No, I don’t believe they can kick you out. They can however make it hell for you and threaten you, etc. You just have to know your rights and have the right support there and it could be great!

~Mrs. BWF

Reply

LizzyMid April 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Hi Christal,

I’m currently studying a bachelor of midwifery and you can 100% refuse a procedure. It’s called informed consent. They must tell you why the are doing something, the pro’s and cons, risks and the outcome if you were not to go through with what they are suggesting. if you refuse you are well within your rights, they will document it and that SHOULD be the end of the story. Please do not feel bullied, they legally have no right to force anything on you.
Good luck for your birth
Lizzy

Reply

Sara August 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm

And that’s where they (potentially!) go and get a court order since you’re obviously completely irrational and a control freak and are jeopardizing the baby’s life. :/

Reply

Christa September 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

Christal,
First find a hospital and doctor who you know preforms hypnobirth and waterbirths on a regular basis. Do this by speaking to women who have had a successful hypno/water birth there. If you go into a hopsital wanting and refusing things they are not used to, expect to be miserable. I have seen doctors and nurses make a womans life a living hell while she was in labor because she refused pitocin and an epidural. There was screaming matches, bullying, lieing all going on while these mothers attempt to labor.

What happens is your body instively shuts down when you are afraid, thats the last thing you want when you are trying to prove to them that you can have this baby without any interventions!

Just do your research to make sure the hospital is not just “open to hypno/water birth” but they have seen successful ones as well!!!!! You will do great, good luck!

Reply

fr0nd January 24, 2011 at 10:13 am

I had a horrid second birth… finally caved in and got an epidural which took them two tries to get right… then they let the epidural run out when the baby was crowning. I went from no pain to the most a person can feel I think. It took forever for the baby to come out. I felt the two snips they did for the episiotomy to get her out.

I was so not bonded with my baby due to the whole experience. I lost a year of her life. Was I traumatised, I really think I was. Had to actually revisit and deal with the emotions I felt before I finally had a lovely birth with #3 – nonmedicated and done MY way.

I pity women who don’t get that second chance to reach a good birth.

Reply

A.M. January 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm

One of these stories sounds like what happened to me during my first birth. I was transferred from birth center to hospital. My midwife was a family friend I had known since I was in the 3rd grade. I felt like I should be able to trust her. OMG The things that happened in that hospital… I am lucky nobody cut me. I was so scared of the IV’s and the internal monitor, and was pushed into an epidural also. I didn’t want another baby after that. I had one half a decade later, and a perfect birth, no transfer. I will have my third soon, a homebirth, hopefully no transfer again. I know that my first birth sticks with me. My heart races and I sweat like crazy every time a Facebook friend posts hospital birth pictures, and I don’t think I could ever set foot on a labor and delivery floor again as long as I live. I never applied the term birth rape to it. I always thought it was birth trauma. I’m not sure if the term birth rape is appropriate to my situation (I thnk it’s up to the individual to say what applies to them. This is JUST me.) I just never thought of it that way before. I do know that it was wrong, though. No matter what term a person may apply to that kind of thing, I describe it in one word: WRONG.

Reply

Jessica February 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I was mutilated by an OB over a year ago..She performed a 4th degree episiotomy without my consent or knowledge. She had no idea how to stitch me up correctly, leading to such a severe infection that I almost died from it (I had to have an emergency colostomy to control the infection). I had a colostomy for 15 weeks and have had 5 surgeries since last January…see my whole story here:
http://www.whattoexpect.com/forums/birth-stories/topic/bet-you-39-ve-never-heard-this-one-before?page=1

Reply

Adrienne September 2, 2011 at 6:31 am

Jessica, just saw your story. I am so sorry. I had an episiotomy against my wishes almost 11 years ago. A 4th-degree laceration resulted from the cutting and mismanagement of the second stage (“Your baby is in trouble! She has to come out now!”). My baby was just fine and not in any kind of distress, but I was a homebirth transport, and I think that fact alone caused them to be prejudiced against me and my wishes. I have substantial scarring, and I had pain for years. Fortunately, I did not have the complications you had. How horrible.
I’m now back in school and applying to medical school next summer. I do not want to be an OBGYN: I want to catch babies as a family doctor and do whatever I can to ensure that women are treated with respect.

Reply

MamaBennie April 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

I didn’t get the birth I wanted with my first daughter either. My EDD was March 3rd….at 10 days past her EDD I went to the doctor (who had horrible bedside manner), and he gave me two options. He said, “We are getting this baby out, it is either a c-section or induction.” I was young and didn’t know any better because everyone told me to trust the doctor. Well, I told him where he could shove his c-section. At 12 days past her EDD my labor was induced. I wasn’t progressing fast enough for his liking so he was giving me incredibly high doses of Pit. It was so excruciating that I ended up being exhausted and crying my eyes out…so I got the epidural. 5 minutes after they put the epidural in my daughter was born. I felt like I had failed because I didn’t go into labor myself, and because I got the epidural that I didn’t want. I needed 2 stitches because I had a small tear, and he was very rough about it. He also pretty much pulled my placenta out and it was not comfortable. I made a promise to myself that I would never go back to him and my next birth would be different. It was and I got the birth I wanted the second time, but I am forever scarred by a horrible doctor. I had a small tear in the same place with my second birth and it was EXCRUCIATING getting stitched there. Ever since the first time I was stitched there, there has always been a small amount of pain at certain times.

Reply

Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama April 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

This is why we need to watch the births of other mammals… a doctor or an other mammal would not dare to come near a birthing gorilla or elephant…they are given respect, even by human doctors!

Reply

Kate September 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

As someone who has assisted with livestock births, I can guarantee you that you are quite wrong. Death during birth is quite common in the animal kingdom- they aren’t going to show you that on Animal Planet. There are a number of times where intervention could have saved one or both of the animals’ lives. I’ve been a part of that on multiple occasions.

They aren’t given resepct- a human doctor would have to be an idiot to attempt to assist a wild animal with zero training. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Reply

Megs January 16, 2012 at 4:43 am

Kate,

As someone who has assisted with livestock birth, also, you are not entirely correct. When left to their own devices, most mammals will birth normally and safely. If it were true that death was common, the animal kingdom would not have flourished as it had. Again, the interventions with animals cause the same problems as with humans. The best thing to do is sit in a corner and watch. Then, if something goes wrong, step in. Animals instinctively know how to birth. Growing up on my farm, when the animals birthed, with the exception of one goat and one cow, (the cow happened to be when my mom went to be with my sister when she was in labour the entire 15 years I assisted on my farm and my dad didn’t want to ‘waste’ money on a vet), all of our animals needed no assistance. We sat there until they finished birthing and then did the after stuff (giving mum a bucket of warm molasses water, dip umbelical cords in iodine, help get babies latched on if they were taking a little too long, etc).

Reply

Elizabeth April 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

My idiot Dr chose to manually stretch my cervix with my first child after 21 hr of labor I was at 8 cm and in my opinion progressing quite well, but without my concent he did it during cervical exam. I was going for an unmedicated natural birth and not only did it cause horrible pain, but he acctually tore my cervix. I did not deliver for another 2 hours. As a result of the tear to my cervix they are no longer strong enough to withstand pregnancy the way they should. Two OB specialist say that I have incompitent cervix. Since my oldest I have suffered 5 miscarriages and had 3 micro preemies (28wks, 25 wks and 26wks). All because this dr chose to violate my body.

Reply

Elisabeth August 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! Were you able to sue the doc or report anything? That is so sad.

Reply

Hannah April 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Wow. I just realized the birth of my 2nd child was indeed a birth rape.

Needless to say it was a hospital birth. I remember the hostility towards me as a laboring woman from my Dr. & LD nurses. It was a traumatic/sad and joyful time. It was the catalyst of change for my hubby & I and we would have our next 5 births at home.

What was said about PPD is so true, I believe that there is a correlation there.

I really appreciate this post and this site. Its so true, the model of “care” are lies, misinformation and fear. Its about controlling what is out of their (Drs) control…that and $$.

As women we must be knowledgeable of our bodies and the risks associated with various interventions. We all have the right to choose HOW & WHERE to birth, but until we look at “prenatal care” as a capitalistic enterprise, we cannot effectively protect our babies from these fear-based marketing strategies.

Thank you for writing this post.

Reply

Kelly April 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I often recall and compare the sounds of laboring women who are being traumatized during their labor/birth with the sounds of laboring women who are empowered and LEFT ALONE to do their “thing”. It is the sound of PAIN vs. the sound of BIRTH. Big difference. This is why I became a doula, after my own birth rape(s), then quit and became a homebirth midwife when I got my belly full of seeing women traumatized over and over in the hospital. Beautiful birth is NOT A MYTH! And every woman deserves one!

Reply

Jessie April 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I understand your anger with America’s birthing system. I am also very angry about it as well. I had my first child on January 8th, 2009. I was young and dumb (as Melissa Holstrom said). I wanted a natural birth but had no idea what that meant. I started labor around 1:30am and went to the hospital around 3am. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but painless. I knew I was having them, but they didn’t hurt me. They checked me and I said I was 4cm. Around 10am they said I was still 4cm so they started me on pitocin. I was on pit for 4 hours. During that 4 hours a very loud and obnoxious nurse came in to check me. With her fingers inside me she announced “I’m going to rupture your membrane!” and did this without telling me what that meant or giving me time to choose if I wanted that done or not. It hurt sooo bad!! She was asked to leave and I was given another nurse who I LOVED! They checked me around 2pm and said I was only up to 5cm so they were gonna break my water. Immediately after they broke my water, my contractions got really strong. I went from 5 to 10 cm in 15 minutes and was screaming the whole time. I didn’t know that Pitocin and having your water broken can cause stronger than normal contractions. I was serious when I begged my then husband to kill me! It literally felt like a butcher knife was being twirled around inside my stomach! My body started to push without me and the nurses were telling me not to push! I was thinking, “how can i NOT push?”. The doctor finally came in and I started to push. Pushing was the biggest relief for me and I am glad they didn’t have time to give me an epidural so that I could have a
“natural” childbirth, but the pain was excruciating! I pushed for about 30 minutes, or so I am told, and I had a beautiful baby girl…that I was not interested in. I was in so much pain that I didn’t really care about her. After they took her off my chest, the doctor asked if I wanted pain meds in my IV while they stitched me up from where I tore. I said yes, and they proceeded to stitch me up while the pain meds knocked me out. I was unconscious for 6 hours. I woke up in my postpartum room to a friend of mine talking to me. She works in the nursery at the hospital and she bathed my daughter. The words that woke me up were, “it’s horrible how you tore into your clitoris, honey, I’m so sorry that happened to you”. Yup, I tore into my perineum AND my clitoris. I was pushing so hard and so fast because I was in so much pain that I split wide open. I had 7 stitches. I finally bonded with and fell in love with my daughter in the hospital, but my joy of being a new mommy was soon put to a halt when 2 1/2 weeks after I had her, I hemorrhaged and was rushed to the hospital where I was told I was lucky to be alive. I had been severely sick after having her and found out why when the doctor said that there was placenta left inside me and I hemorrhaged because there was a hole in my uterus. I had surgery and shortly after, even after trying everything I could, due to stress, I lost my milk. I was heartbroken. Knowing what I know now, I feel that the hospital took advantage of a young, naive and ignorant woman. I feel violated and am extremely angry that I didn’t get to have a positive birth experience. I have guilt as a mother that I wasn’t interested in my child after I had her and I have been suffering with PPD ever since, which has led into prenatal depression…I am now 17 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and am planning a home water birth with a midwife. I am very excited and hope this is a positive experience, but I am still very fearful of childbirth. I am hoping that through my pregnancy with the knowledge and support that I now have, I can get rid of my fears.

Reply

Blake August 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I feel for you! My hospital did the same thing to me; they dug around inside of me for 2 hours! I am glad your okay now!

Reply

Jessica May 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I’d like to add another dimension to the “Birth Rape” factor. My first baby was breech and I was not given a choice. To my OB, breech = c-section. I was not asked nor was I notified; she used experimental staples on the skin incision. These staples backed themselves out within 9 hours of the surgery. The day we came home the incision opened up to the fundus layer. I’m 5’2″ tall and my full term pregnancy weight was 140. This should never have happened had she used something proven. My scar was huge, ugly, painful to the point I could no longer wear panties of any kind as well as certain pants. The incision did not heal right, needless to say.

I consider my first c-section to be a form of rape. She ruined my body and broke my spirit. She exploited me without consent.

Reply

Serene June 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Here in my little community there is a circle of midwives that practice a technique that they call “PowerBirth.” I would consider it birth rape.

I personally have known two people who have experienced this “PowerBirthing” technique in my area and both have been severely scarred by the experience. Mandala Mom says this about PowerBirth:

“PowerBirth is promoted by its founder and proponents as an empowering approach to birth in which mothers are encouraged to push when they have the natural urge. Ostensibly, it promotes listening to women’s bodies, instead of telling women to hold back and not “allowing” them to push until they’re fully dilated. If PowerBirth was a philosophy that encouraged birthing women to follow their natural pushing instincts instead of relying on external control and arbitrary policy, I would be a promoter of Power Birth. But listening to your body is not what PowerBirth is about.”

To read her PowerBirth story click here: http://mandalamom.blogspot.com/2010/12/power-birth-not-to-be-confused-with.html.

Women who have been birth raped or “PowerBirthed” need to speak out without fear!

Reply

Kathleen C July 10, 2011 at 3:00 am

Thank you so much for posting this! These horror stories DO happen!

Reply

Sharalyn August 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm

BTW–I had my daughter at home! 9.25 hour labor that went well. My midwife was awesome through the entire thing. She did have to massage out the scar tissue on my cervix from the OB manually (with something that looked like a crowbar) popping it over my son’s head 10 years ago. That hurt terribly, but I knew it was going to have to be done, and my midwife was awesome about it.

Reply

rachel loth August 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I had a very traumatic “rape” experience with an ER dr during a miscarriage last year. I had been bleeding heavily at home and passed out a few mins and was brought in by ambulance. The Dr was incredibly rough. He shoved in the speculum and started scraping things out with gauze without so much as a word to me. It was incredibly painful and violating. When I winced in pain he looked at me like I was ridiculous. When I insisted Id birth 3 babies without medication and I wasnt a wimp he practically rolled his eyes and carried on. I finally told him he HAD to stop and couldnt touch me anymore. He told me I could let him examine me or check out AMA. He left me sobbing uncontrollably. I never let him touch me again and my OB was called in – she was much more kind and gentle. She did the same procedure with gentleness and letting me know each step what she was doing. A year later I still cry thinking of that night. I know I should file a complaint but I cant bring myself to talk about it and defend myself to the hospital. We have to educate and empower women to stand up for themselves in these situations so there are less and less victims!

Reply

Selena September 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I’m so sorry that happened to you. Having a miscarriage is painful enough on it’s own. What a terrible man.

Reply

STEPHANIE August 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I am EXTREMELY offended at the use of the word “rape” in this blog. Anyone who has been raped or knows someone who has gone through it-having your birth of your healthy child is NOT the same. I think that a woman’s birth can greatly influence having ppd, but this is not RAPE or your new “term” of birth rape. I’d go with malpractice but surely not rape.

Reply

rachel loth August 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Stephanie – have you had a traumatic birth experience? Ive never been raped so I cant say they are the same – and no one is saying they are the SAME. But both are violating, both involved forced, unwanted actions against our bodies and both are traumatizing. If you read a page back, in the comments, BWF posted the definitions of rape and it most certainly fits situations like the stories that have been shared.

Reply

Jen August 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I have been raped. Held captive in my own home for days and repeatedly forced down and violated. It was horrific, terrifying, and left me a serious emotional mess for a very long time. The physical injuries were bad, but nothing compared to living in fear for years (and, still some extreme anxiety if I’m ever home alone, which I avoid). It has been years, but just typing this still spikes my blood pressure, send my heart rate through the roof, and leaves me completely nauseous.

That experience does not make me less willing to consider what happens to some women during the births of their children to be any less horrific. Take out the matter of who is doing it or the setting, and it comes down to the same thing. When a woman is restrained, her orifices violated (especially while she screams for them to stop or begs the violator not to), and she is drugged, coerced, or threatened to keep her under control so she can be treated as someone else wishes without concern for her bodily autonomy, that is rape.

Rape survivors need to stick together, not nit-pick whose experience was really rape. That’s the same approach that has created a situation where victims get told they brought it on themselves, they were asking for it, they survived so it’s really not that big a deal, or any of the other millions of horrible things people say that trivialize the horror of what was done to rape victims.

Reply

Amber T August 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I am so sorry for what you went through. I’m honestly amazed at how perfectly this comment sums up everything I feel, and some things I didn’t realize I feel. I have always supported the use of this term, because who am I to tell someone what they felt? Or do try to determine the validity of something so powerful that happened in another persons life. I don’t think I realized I was fighting for the right to someday admit that this is what happened to me.

I wrote my birth story, in most of it’s harsh truth, but even then I never would have used this term for myself. I felt my experience was not horrible enough to have this title. I ended up getting away from my midwife to have my daughter naturally in a supportive hospital, so I felt I had no right to complain. But as I read your description of what rape is, I couldn’t stop crying. I remember a pain so intense I lost my humanity. I felt closer to a wild animal than I ever thought possible. I didn’t care what I looked like, what I was doing, consequences, or what anyone thought, I was only trying to escape. I tried to kick my midwife, I thrashed and tried to get away, but I was pinned by the pain. I screamed and begged, too horrified to cry while laying in my own bed, with those I love watching and not knowing what to do. She tried to get me to take sleeping piIls, insulted me, and made me feel weak and pathetic, I welcomed death if my daughter could survive. I never thought I would use the word rape to describe something that happened to me, but I can’t think of another.

Thank you for sharing your experience, and for writing what you did.

Reply

kinny August 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Rape is the unwanted penetration of a woman’s body, whether it be with a penis, fingers, an object. The stories here, in my opinion are most certainly birth rape. It’s no one’s place other than the woman to define what the experience means to her. I’m sincerely sorry that you have experienced rape, it is a soul destroying event. But for many women the rape is perpetrated by professionals and it is also soul destroying

Reply

Nikki August 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I was raped. I had a horrible first birth experiance. Dispite the fact that I had a care notice on my file was left feeling more vialated after bith than when I was raped. It was when I read the book survivors give birth I realsied why this was. I wrote a 7 page letter to the hosp concerned and was told that I was lying about the event that happed during my labour. I can never forgive the NHS for the way they treated me. I have since spent 9 months on day care at The Priory. My second birth was at home, in a pool with a private midwife. Thankfully I had an amazing experiance 2nd time round. I know everyone is differant. But for me personally this artical couldnt be closer to the truth. xx

Reply

Kristy Alger January 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Rape is about power. It is never about sexual pleasure, it is always about power. Rape is a term that is applicable here, as most of these health professionals are acting in a way as to dominate their patient, and to overpower them, whilst penetrating them, whilst they are at their most vulnerable. I feel I was birth raped with my first child, and that with my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies there were occasions it felt very much like an assault during routine check ups. This is unacceptable, and the sooner we stop shying away from the term rape, and staring the facts hard in the face, the better for all women!

Reply

Blake August 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I was due 4/29/11 and I had dilated 2 cm, well the week before my due date I sprung a leak! I was SO excited I thought YAY time for this baby to roll on out; but NO such luck!!! They kept using the STUPID little PH testing strips and it tested positive for amniotic fluid 2 times so they said I had a small leak in the back of my amniotic sac so they said just be sure to drink plenty of water and if it leaked enough for me to need to change my pad every hour come back! Well it never did that! So at my check up on 4/29/11 I was check again and I was still 2cm dilated and 75% effaced! So they set up an induction date of 5/6/11!!! I was a nervous wreck! So at 7:00a on 5/6/11 we show up at the hospital and check it! As I am getting undressed and into my gown my nurse Mary-Kate walks in with a doctor named Dr. Kelso (now remember that NAME because she will play a MAJOR role in this horror story)! Anyways Dr. Kelso is holding a foley catheter in her hand said we are going to use this to manually dilate you are you ready for your epidural? I Said NO thank you I want to try this with out it! So they put the thing in and blew it up with water to make it dilate me to 5CM.I did fine with it NO pain at all; then the dreaded pitocin comes into play they hooked me up and turned it way UP! I started walking around the LD ward; making laps, I must have walked that hallway at least 100 times! They kept asking me if I wanted any pain medicine but I said I was fine, which I was I wasn’t hurting at all! Well after about an hour of the catheter being in place they pull me into my room and tug it and it easily falls out so they lay me down and check me I am a stretchy 6CM I was SO happy! So of course they JACK my pitocin way up and I go on a walk again! Well this all keeps going till about 6:00p when the Chief Resident comes in and checks me, he said that I was just at 5CM that the “Student” (yes I said student can you believe that??) that checked me was WAY off! So here I sit feeling totally defeated, when he says okay now your going to feel some pressure as he breaks my water without asking! So then the labor REALLY began; however I didn’t feel any pain! So once again my new Nurse turned up the pitocin and inserted an internal monitor to check my contractions! Well I was doing so good I was walking and talking and then about 8:00p they came to check me again and Taylor was facing the wrong way (which most people say is when they have back labor??) so they told me to go out in the hall way and hold on to the railing and rock my hips back and fourth which would encourage her to turn! WELL MAN DID she turn that is when my back labor started when she was the RIGHT way! I tried laying in the tub while my sweet husband poured warm water on me after an hour of that I got into the bed (it was around 10:30p). After an hour of HORRIBLE tear jerking pain I asked for my epidural (looking back now I wish I hadn’t). Earlier in the day I had signed the papers just in case it became time for the epidural and I was hurting to bad to hear everything and sign for it! So the DR came in and he had another girl with him?? I thought HMMM whatever just get this thing over with well she says Hi my name is Sydney and I will be watching Dr.Rick today! So anyways they are getting everything together and ready, they I hear him say now your going to feel a sharp sting from the numbing medicine well I jerked but; not really hard! Then they started to put it in BUT MISSED IT so I got another sharp sting and they missed it again and they another sharp sting and then they missed it, again! Well it turns out she was a STUDENT and I was just a practice for her, they didn’t ask my permission for it and she did it 3 times and missed! My husband finally told her “That is enough”!The 4th and final attempt was done by Dr. Rick and he finally got it! Our hospital has a 2 stick rule for EVERYTHING but; evidently they didn’t care! So I get my epidural around 11:45 pm a procedure that should have taken 20 minutes took almost an hour, I was so scared that I didn’t feel any contractions during this time so that was a plus so around 1:00a I felt relief!!! I tried to sleep because I knew that it was going to be a rough time pushing if I didn’t rest but; the blood pressure cuff going off every 15 minutes kept me awake! Around 5a the nurse come in to check me and she says “Honey you are still just 5cm I think we may have to do a C-Section let me go find the DR.!” So I am crying and sulking for about 20 minutes then when I finally can kind of grasp the idea of a C-Section, I feel this urge to push around 7:00a and I page my nurse she comes in and I said I need to push and she said “Honey it has only been a little over an hour since I emptied your bladder and checked you , you are going to feel pressure!” I said NO I need to push so she check and SURE enough I was 10CM and 100% effaced READY to go! By this time it was about 7:10a and she said “Now you can go ahead and push if you want but; it takes most first time mother anywhere from 1-3 hours pushing. SO you can lay here on your side and rest for a while okay!” I told her NO I need to push so she says well we will do some practice pushes I push ONCE and she runs to the phone get Dr. Spence in here for delivery around 7:15a (GO KEGALS) Dr. Spence comes in and I pushed 5 more times and I hear them yell call NICU and then all of the sudden a nurse in street clothes comes running in and pushes my husband out of the way and jumps on my TUMMY which sends Taylor flying out! She had her shoulder stuck she was a BIG girl 8lbs 10oz (her daddy was 8lbs 9oz and they had to break his collar bone to get him out) so they are tending to her and I am terrified until they tell me what happened. So Dr. Spence looks at the other DR with her Dr. Kelso ( did you remember this name??) and says I have to go deliver another baby you stitch her up and let her deliver the placenta but; don’t pull the cord it is very weak and will break! WELL her ding dong butt stitches me up ( I only had 2 internal stitches) then pulls the cord!!! It broke, and instead of turning up my pitocin and rubbing my stomach to let me deliver the placenta she goes SHOULDER deep inside of me and pulls it out! Evidently she left some inside of me because I started to hemorrhage really bad! They had to bring 4 more DR’s in there to help they used a banjo hook inside of me for 2 hours trying to dig this all out! Anyways I lost 6 units of blood during this time! They finally finish and my room looks like a murder scene, they left blood everywhere! They gave me 2 doses of fentynal (the strongest pain killer there is) I was so doped up that I didn’t want to hold my daughter and my blood pressure dropped to 68/36 I was so scared I was going to die! They kept coming into my room and mashing on my stomach constantly, the next day I had to have a blood transfusion! During my transfusion Taylor started gagging up black stuff! We freaked out and paged the nurse she said she swallowed a little bit of her poop during delivery!Which they neglected to tell us! On top of all of this I HAD (notice the past tense of the word) a horrible phobia of needles! During my lovely 4 day stay at Hotel De’ Hell I was stuck 44 times! Anyways that is my HORROR story! Sorry it is so long =(

Reply

Nicole Hernandez August 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

When I was young, pregnant with my first child, my OB had been doing cervical checks for every office visit during the whole pregnancy. I didn’t know any better. At 36 weeks he went to do one of these checks, and instead of normal, which normally there was a female assistant in the room, he was alone and he JAMMED his hand up my vagina. He kept pushing and pushing and RAMMING and JAMMING his hand in my vagina as I screamed bloody murder begging for him to stop. Eventually he just stopped and walked out the room. I sat there and cried and bled. I immediately felt totally violated and raped. Later that day, as I was still crying and bleeding from what happened, I saw streams of liquid and thought my amniotic sac was broken. I went to the hospital. I was “tested” by litmus and told that it was pee. Pee that just kept going and going, and oddly enough didn’t smell like pee or feel like pee. So I was sent home and eventually the “pee” stopped. I was told at the hospital, who had called my OB, that he had “stripped my membranes” that day. I didn’t even know what that was. The actual childbirth was more traumatic, I don’t want to write it all here, but the baby got trapped in the birth canal, I had 2 epidurals. The nurses where horrified by the violence that they saw, and I begged to be killed. After a giant episiotomy, his arms were into me mid forearm to rip my baby out from the birth canal after all three vacuum sizes failed. I came close to needing a blood transfusion, and needed oxygen because of all the meds. :( It still haunts me.

Reply

Jer August 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm

When I was pg with my second (working for a VBAC), my medwife did a vaginal exam at 40 weeks, and judging from the spotting and cramping that followed, I suspect she stripped my membranes without telling me– much less getting my permission. That was also the day she informed me that my baby was “too big” for her to deliver at her birth center, and that I had to go a local hospital where she had privileges for an induction. On her orders, I went home, took homeopathics around the clock, had some really lousy sex, and drank an entire bottle of castor oil. One week later– again, at her insistence– I submitted to a hellish induction that ended, predictably enough, in a CBAC. She did not attend the proceedings, of course; I saw her a couple days after I was released from the hospital, so she could comment on my “humongous” baby. She crushed me, threatened me with a dead baby, filled me with fear, poisoned the last weeks of my sweet son’s gestation.

Rape? I don’t know. She took my power. She twisted me until I did what she wanted. She violated my body. Healthy baby? Thankfully. Healthy mama? Not so much.

Reply

MJ August 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

You’ve posted this link many times, and I’ve resisted reading it until now. In my first birth, both the nurse and doctor violated me. I had been labouring for more than 24 hours before being admitted. Almost immediately, the nurse administered the absolute worst pelvic exam of my life. I’m certain that she was attempting to manually dilate me. Without a word. I cried, said “OW OW OW OW OW THAT HURTS!” and she didn’t seem to care. I went to the restroom and the toilet was completely red with blood, as was the bed when I came out. Shortly thereafter, the doctor broke my water to try to get things moving, and there was meconium in it. They put an internal fetal monitor in, but my baby had a full head of hair and it wouldn’t stay. It took them 3 tries to actually get it in, and during the last, I was having a contraction. I screamed at the doctor, told her she was hurting me, and said “Get your hand out of me!” Her response was that they had to hear my baby’s heart. I, who hah wanted a natural birth, who was so terrified of an epidural that I had to leave my childbirth classes to vomit in the bathroom when they were discussing it, ended up with both demerol that made me out-of-my-wits high, and an epidural because of these birth attendants’ behaviour. It was terrifying, demoralising, and almost 14 years later still makes my heart race and is difficult to talk about. It’s time women everywhere demand better treatment from whoever they decide to birth with. There is NO excuse for these things to happen in child birth!

Reply

Christy August 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

What a horrifying collection of heartbreaking stories! Thank God I don’t have any to share, but I have never birthed in a hospital, so go figure! I had my first at a birth center, and they did cause me to wind up with an episiotomy due to them having me get on my back to push, which caused baby’s heart rate to get too low and the need to get him out fast. That and the immediate cord clamping I didn’t want are my only disappointments. Still, a minor example of how interfering with the mother leads to complications. My next 2 were homebirths and we are planning an unassisted homebirth any day now. The midwife didn’t arrive in time for my last birth, but even at the one before, she was very unobtrusive, so no interferences, and all was well.

I detest our current methods of “managing” labor, birth, and after birth from the time the woman walks in the hospital doors until she is finally free from “prison.” Most women are so unsuspecting of what awaits them or have just resigned themselves to a miserable experience to be endured. Most have no idea how incredible birth is when mom and baby are left alone. And safe and empowering, not scarring and traumatic.

I don’t know what can be done to solve the problem. Thankfully, there are many women choosing alternatives to hospitals, but I really don’t see a massive overhaul to the way things are happening any time soon. In my opinion, hospitals are just not a safe and healthy place to birth unless you have a true emergency reason that would then cause the risks of hospital birth to be outweighed by your need for their emergency care.

Reply

Adriane August 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Stephanie this is indeed rape. Inserting an object or body part inside my vagina against my wishes is flat out rape. Just because I have a baby in my arms afterwards does not change this fact.

Reply

Ashley August 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm

When I had my son my iv was almost ripped out of my arm twice, I was told that if I didn’t get myself under control I would be responsible for killing my baby because I was hypertension, I was punched in the face by the attendant who wasn’t paying attention and forcefully pushed an oxygen mask onto my face, I was strapped down and disrespected when I couldn’t sign the crash cesarean papers because I was given no pen and couldn’t lift my arms w.o being untied when I woke up I was wheeled into a recovery room where I was left alone in the complete darkness and wasn’t spoken to by a nurse for almost twelve hours my son was sent to a hospital out of state and my husband and midwives had to fight the insurance company and hospital because they initially refused to transfer me to be with him a nurse came in and pushed on my belly hard enough I was crying and shaking and I told her to stop and she pushed her fists into me and withheld my pain medication for over 17 hours the morning after my csection! I felt raped and alone like no one cared about me when I had my daughter less than a year later the hospital tried to prevent me from vbacing even though I provided numerous studies and even had an incision ultrasound proving my scar was strong I was given the dead baby card numerous times until my midwife and I told them to kiss our asses with informed refusal paperwork

Reply

Ashley August 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

my cousin michelle had her first at fifteen she labored for four days straight WITH PITOCIN they wouldnt allow her to eat or drink anything well anyways they let her go through all of this and on the first day during a gigantic contraction they heard a crack her PELVIS had broke from the repeated stress from all the contractions her son went into distress and she was given a cesarean section he was overdue and his head was too big to fit into her child sized pelvis they stapled her shut messily didnt let her see him for hours and on top of it all she caught a staph infection from the hospital in her wound and almost died!

Reply

K August 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Wow… I was so drawn into this blog because of lack of Tv. I am so GLAD I did read it! I have birthed one child MY way and am at peace with her birth. I was informed, un medicated and made each choice as I saw fit. I was able to move and have contractions and work my way through them. Not one of them left me screaming and un aware. I was given pitocen spelling? as I was being induced. But every time it was changed I was informed. I was checked once when my water broke and It was blackish and asked the nurse. My midwife asked me again if she could check me 4 hours later due to the mecemonium. I agreed, it wasn’t in the plan and it sure hurt and made me question an epi. I got through as she reminded me to breath through it. 4 hours later after a visit from a nurse every hour I told her my baby was coming I had to push, I was told to not push until I was at 10 I told them she was here. And 30 mins later some lube I pushed my baby girl out of me. I had control of all of my body. I was able to stop pushing when she told me to so she could cut the cord. It was wrapped around her neck 2x, I was told to push again but hard now and out came her shoulders and then she was given to the pedi and a nurse to look over, I could see her, yes I wanted to cut the cold later on and hold her on my chest. But it was clearly noted she needed oxygen. I rested and delevered my placenta. I was never rushed, my midwife looked at it as it was my baby and my husband was amazed. She noted it was perfect, i’m assuming intact. lol. She told my husband how it was the organ that my daughter lived in. I loved her for trusting me to birth my baby my way. After 3 hours I able to hold my baby, I was still in the same bed just a new jonny and the bed was longer and more relaxed. I was allowed time to myself after her birth, people came and cleaned up. I didn’t need any stiches, but because I was 26 she said could see doing one if I was ok. I had spray numbing gel, and that was done. Peeing afterwards was the worst but shortly after in cam my husband and my girl and she bf instantly for over an hour. I couldn’t wait to get my shower done with so I could get back to my baby girl. That was good

This is now the bad, after I had a miscarriage during my 6th week I opted to let it be and pass on my own, I never did and found my self very sick and high fevers. I was told I still had tissue and needed a d AND c. THAT was RAPE. I was given ativan, and a Dr. I didn’t know violated me in the worst way ever that same day I begged my husband to get a vastecomy so this would never happen again. Now I MISS having a baby. I want one in the worst way. I have a 10 year old son, who we adopted and my 2 year old daughter. But I have a unisex name picked and I want a baby. I hate that Dr. that I never could see his face. I will never get over that d and c. To me that was rape. I begged him to stop and he didn’t, he never kept me informed of anything but came in and before I could look up I was in extreme pain. Little did I know a man was in front of me violeting me.

Reply

Cassie August 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm

As a survivor of sexual assault, I find it insulting and ridiculous when women compare their births to rape. Birth trauma, PTSD, absolutely. I have been handled very roughly and spoken to with no respect, stripped of my dignity during childbirth, but that was not a violent attack of a sexual nature meant to humiliate me. Call it assault if you will, but it’s NOT rape.

Reply

Amber August 31, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I was told my midwife would do an exam on me as a contraction hit and I was unable to refuse. She shoved her hand into me and began forcing my cervix back, despite my crying, screaming, and begging her to stop. I was pinned by pain and exhaustion and tried to fight as hard as I could. I tried to get away, to kick her, to do anything to save myself. Someone held my legs down. The pain was so intense my vision began dimming around the edges. I was insulted and mistreated and left to feel like somehow it was my fault. This was done over and over again. I watched her look at me and the blood she had caused with disgust. I welcomed death. If you ignored who was doing it, and why, the story would most certainly be considered rape/sexual assault. The ‘who’ does not change the ‘what.’

As mentioned by another poster, women need to be coming together to support each other. Pointing fingers and devaluing the strength of someone else’s experience does nothing to help them, or yourself.

Reply

Lisa H August 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Birth rape? I think the word “rape” getting tossed around like this is seriously uncalled for. I work with rape survivors. This would not make a lot of survivors happy. I see where you are going with this…some women hold their birth experiences as “sacred moments”, and when they don’t go as planned can cause “trauma”. But- to liken unhappy/emotionally painful birth experiences to RAPE that is nothing short of over reaching..I can see using the word “trauma” or “painful experiences”…but RAPE?? You are comparing apple to oranges. I ended up with an emergency c-section and didn’t ask for it…but I never felt raped or violated..I wanted my child to live!! Sure my experience wasn’t what I “envisioned” but to say I was “birth raped” would be completely deluded!

Reply

Mrs. BWF August 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I understand what you are saying Lisa, trust me, I do. However, there are many, many sexual rape survivors who disagree with you and feel that it is very comparable. :(

Reply

Lisa H August 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm

There are many, many sexual rape survivors who agree? I am very interested in hearing about these rape survivors who agree! I would love to share this with my colleagues. Please post a link to the peer-reviewed research/study that has documented there is such correlation. I eagerly await your reply!

Reply

Mrs. BWF August 31, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I am telling you there have been many women who have commented on this blog post that they are sexual rape survivors and they agree. You don’t have to, but others do.Talk to women that have suffered both. Why don’t you link me to peer reviewed research on this topic of birth traumas/rape and we will go from there. I eagerly await your reply!

Reply

Jen August 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Percentage-wise, I have no idea. I do know that I have gone through both and definitely consider them comparable and have heard many women in similar situations say the same. I think the issue may be point of reference. I’m sorry you had an unplanned c-section, but an emergency creating a need for a change in plans that you are okay with, while still often traumatic, is not at all the same as when a competent adult that is fully capable of giving or refusing consent is forcefully restrained, drugged, and penetrated, then deprived of her child while being called names, talked down to, exposed to strangers, threatened, tortured, and all of this while she begs people to stop, cries out for help, and otherwise makes it clear that she does NOT consent. And the assumption that this is for the good of the baby, or even regularly ends with a healthy baby and/or healthy mom is flawed.

To say that you had a birth that didn’t go as planned and it doesn’t feel like a violation to you, so it isn’t like that for anyone else is a bit offensive. That strikes me a bit like when people say they’ve had sex when they weren’t really into it and they don’t go crying rape, so women who are forcibly violated, beaten, and their lives threatened must be drama queens looking for attention when they report their experiences.

Reply

Elizabeth September 1, 2011 at 9:01 am

As a rape survivor I fully agree with the term birth rape. To be violated without your consent regardless of whether or not your holding a baby afterwards is indeed rape.

Reply

chelle May 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I have experienced both. I believe that being held down against your will while, crying, begging for them to stop shoving their penis, or hand, or object repeatedly up inside you no matter the location, a hospital or a back ally, whether the actions are committed by a stranger or someone you’ve been dating or someone you’ve seen regularly over the past several months who just happens to have a M.D. after their name… when this is done to you it is RAPE. I was molested for years (8+) by my step-father as a child…I was held down and sexually raped by someone I barely knew as a teenager and I was birth raped when I was 30 years old while giving birth to my 1st child….are you keeping records Ms Lisa? for your statistics? are the women responding to you ‘peer’ enough for you?

Reply

Christine March 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I am a rape victim and what these ladies describing is indeed rape. Someone forcing themselves upon you against your will is rape. Someone fingering a woman against there will it is rape. Someone forcing medical devices into someone is rape. Someone performing a medical procedure inside of a woman without the woman’s full informed consent is rape because it is against her will. Just because there is no penis involved does not mean that it isn’t rape.

Reply

Jennifer September 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

I agree with you, Mrs BWF. As someone who has, unfortunately, experienced both, I find it absolutely accurate to call what happened to me birth rape.

Reply

Cat September 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

Lisa, I am a survivor of a horrible sexual assault and I have no problem whatsoever of the word rape being used in these situations.

Rape is about power and fear, not sex. A rapist isn’t looking to “get off”, they want to make someone powerless to stop what is happening, and this is most certainly what is happening when medical “professionals” commit these heinous acts on women. It’s forcible abuse and because it’s happening to a woman’s sexual organs, it becomes forcible sex abuse which is just a fancy way of saying rape.

Reply

Abby October 27, 2011 at 7:10 am

So, I was held down by two people, screaming “NO!”, one shoved their hand in me so hard, causing excruciating pain. I was told to be quiet and stop being a ‘silly girl’. I was left injured and violated. What do you call that if not rape? I have been the victim of sexual assault and I consider them both as damaging as the other.

I find it very offensive that you so easily dismiss what has happened to me and millions of women around the world. Just because it’s done in the name of medicine does not make it any better.

Reply

Jupiter August 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm

My first birth was absolutely a birth rape. It took me years to come to terms with what happened. I was a teenager, planning on giving the baby up for adoption. I was verbally abused by doctors and nurses,my basic needs ignored and was treated like a piece of meat . I can’t even recount everything that happened during my 13 hours of labor. At the end of it, the dr decided I needed an “emergency” c-section. There is nothing in my medical records that indicates it was necessary.I was screaming hysterically for them not to do it and fighting.I could feel that I was ready to push and was actually pushing. The baby’s head was crowning. They restrained me VIOLENTLY and then drugged me (I still cannot be medicated w/ anything stronger than Tylenol. I’m terrified I’ll be taken advantage of and my control revoked).According to an operating room attendant, they had to push the baby back IN to rip him out of my uterus when they cut me open . The scar I have is atrocious. Doctors & midwives who have seen the scar, even now 20+ years after are always shocked by it. One OB-GYN told me it looked like I had been butchered. Someone overheard the doctor who performed the c-section commenting about how he did the procedure that way to teach me a lesson. Thank the gods that man is long retired now and also that somehow I was still able to have successful VBACs.

Reply

JLE August 31, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Just because you are trained to submit to abuse, does not justify the abuse.
Just because you did not have the right word to describe the violation, does not lessen the violation.
RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT are very appropriate words for the “standard of care” for pregnant and birthing women by the ACOG!

Reply

Cassandra August 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I totally agree with this, and after reading a few stories like this i am beginning to believe this is what happened to me, i still suffer from Depression over my son’s birth and he is 2! There are parts of my traumatic experience i cant even remember and i dont know why, not to mention my child being taken away from me for hours on end after birth when they knew i intended to breast feed! When asked why, i was told because all the nurses are on lunch so there is no one to tend to you and your baby! All i can do is thank my mother for screaming at them and grabbing my son and putting him to my breast! It has put so much fear into me that i actually have decided to wait to have more children when originally i wanted my children close together!

Reply

Frond August 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Cassandra, my horrid birth has significantly affected my relationship with my daughter up to today and she’s turning 8 soon. So don’t feel alone in this… just work it through one day at the time. *hugs*

Reply

Cassandra August 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

It has definitely affected my relationship with my son aswell, people around me especially my Mum doesn’t understand, as i have always be great with babies and children and was around them alot as my mum was a in home Nanny for many years when i was growing up. I am trying to work through it, but it is so difficult some days i could scream and sometimes do! Thankyou so much for your supportive comment, it really does make me feel that little bit better to know that i am not the only one out there! If you would like to share your birth story with me one day please feel free! I can do the same in return (the parts i remember) if you like? My email address is cdm85@live.com :)

Reply

nikki August 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm

As a doula I have witnessed birth rape. If what happened to my client had happened on the street or in a home, it would have been understood as rape and prosecuted as such. She also feels she was raped. I was able to stop it, thank God, but the word “rape” is owned by the person who was raped. Not for anyone else to judge. I used to work with a religious fellow who somehow got on the topic of marital rape with us. He said “There is no such thing as marital rape. If you are married, then you must submit to your husband when he wants sex, so there can be no rape between husband and wife.” Marital rape was not recognized as a crime until very recently, when people began to speak up about it, and now it’s a crime, although with a lighter sentence in some states. Do you folks who don’t believe that rape can apply to birth also agree that marital rape isn’t a crime and doesn’t really exist? Is the word “rape” the problem? Would you rather say “birth assault” since rape must involve a penis, or something? If you got finger banged on the street by a masked man, would you report that as a rape, or not?

Reply

Janie August 31, 2011 at 10:13 pm

This happened to me with my first also, the doctor told me my son was to big at 39weeks and if I didn’t let her induce me she would have to take him by c-section later. At 6:00 am they broke my water and gave me pitocin. My contractions were terrible… She told me I couldn’t relax enough and made me take an epidural.. When I was an 8 she started to “manipulate” my cervix to get it to dialate faster.. My son was born at 1:20 that afternoon.. He was 7 pounds and had trouble breathing which she said was due to me not being able to relax… My second son I tried to do a homebirth. Well the last run I got nervous and my husband took me to the hospital. My husband told the doctor that we were going to do a homebirth and as soon as he said that the doctor started basically calling us bad parents and such because we wanted a homebirth after our first experience (Different doctor).. now with this baby’s due date aproaching I’m terrified.. I have no idea what to expect, but hopefully I can have a peaceful birthing experience without mean doctors.

Reply

Chelle August 31, 2011 at 11:15 pm

OMG – when you think you ahve seen it all – some whining pain in teh ass who thinks there special & the world owes them starts anothe rload of crap!!!! I strongly feel RAPE is taking this way to far ! If you have actually ever been RAPED you would understand how downright insulting this is! I dont care how pro homebirth at all costs & how anti doctor you are – to call it rape is an insult. Yes a woman knows her body ra ra ra BUT at some point of time you need to consider a doctor has spend 6 YEARS of there life studding the inside & out of women & birth – they deliver so many every day & SAVE lives!!! Sometimes you need to trust they know better & stop carrying on… Yes its birth it hurts!!! And yes if they ahve to get in there it will hurt!! Its NOT RAPE. This whole debate has been taken too far……… To call it BIRTH RAPE is like calling a woman who insists on a hoem birth & her baby dies a MURDERER <—- Now how horribly offensive is that???? Awful isnt it?? Crazy even to say that?? What an awful comparison that never should have been made – Now step back & think — to accuse someone who has dedicated there lives to help women & save babies lives of RAPE in any form – its the same !!! Horribly offensive , awful, & downright crazy!! Its a bad joke been taken way to far – people need to pull there heads out there ass & stop whining , making every part of motherhood into a furious debate & slander match!! Wether its bf vs bottle, home vs hospital, vb vs c/s, home school or other….. all of this is CRAP just LIVE & LET LIVE – get over it – enjoy motherhood for the magic it is & stop taking everything so darn personally!!! Ive given birth twice & it hurt like hell, i had doctors take over ect ect & you know what if they haddnt my kids may not be here!!! so allthough i said stop it hurts – n they kept going – i understand they did that to save my baby & get them out!!! And im glad they did!!! I certainly did not call them rapists or get post traumatic stress over it …. seriously!!!! comon people think about what you are saying!!! I know a lady who was that scarred from being actually raped she killed herself – There is your reality – its THAT BAD – she coudlnt live with what happend!!! – there was no cute baby at the end for her – just a brutal horrific rape – something you wouldnt wish on anyone!!! That is RAPE . ……. Find another word for your whining people as your a just insulting people who have actually experienced this horrible thing……………. and while your at up STFU & stop scaring expectant mums out of hospitals – you should be charged….

Reply

Mrs. BWF September 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

I can not even take your comment seriously. It’s hard enough to read with all the typos, but you just make no sense.

Reply

annastacia September 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

I tried to get through it taking her serioulsy…but with all the STFU’s…it kind of reminded me of a 15 year old ranting on about someone gossiping about her? Seriously, did you even read through the comments and the stories other women opened their hearts to share? This has happened in hospitals and at HOMEBIRTHS. She isn’t trying to scare any one away from a hospital birth. She is trying to give women the power to protect their birthing rights! If you do not think a Dr forcing his hand into a pregnant woman to speed things up is close to rape, then you need to rethink some things.

Reply

Serenity's Mama September 1, 2011 at 1:24 am

Wow! Did you even read ANY of these horrific stories. I’ve been raped and it wasnt even as violent as some of these birth stories (“They had to bring 4 more DR’s in there to help they used a banjo hook inside of me for 2 hours trying to dig this all out! Anyways I lost 6 units of blood during this time! They finally finish and my room looks like a murder scene, they left blood everywhere!”).
I wouldn’t wish ANY kind of physical violation onto another human being or discredit what someone feels is rape. You have no right to ramble on like you have any idea what these women have been though. And really your yadda yadda yadda attitude about your own birth leaves me to believe you are full of it.

Reply

Mrs. BWF September 1, 2011 at 1:50 am

I’m assuming you weren’t responding to me, but to someone else? ;)

Reply

Bianca September 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

Who are you to dictate what rape is to someone? Sadly there is no point debating anything with you because clearly you are uneducated, have lost touch with yourself and frankly a vile person.

Doctors are human and they make mistakes like everyone else and like everyone else there can be “bad apples”. Just because they are a Doctor doesn’t automatically mean they are always right and know everything. Every year people are misdiagnosed and every year lots of people die directly because of incompetent Doctors.

I really can’t be bothered with you, come back when you can add something intelligent to the discussion.

Reply

B September 1, 2011 at 1:19 am

I have been raped and I do not find this post insulting at all, in fact I support this post and the BWF blog 100% What I do not support is people posting a rant that is impossible to follow due to inconsistencies and spelling/grammar errors. I actually feel more stupid for having tried to read your comment. Thanks Chelle for further convincing me that hospital births are mainly chosen by uneducated people.

Reply

Amy October 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Wow. Way to lump everyone in together, B – just like Chelle did. I especially like how you say that you support BWF 100%, and then belittle the education and choices of others. Support for the informed decisions of others is pretty central to Mrs BWF’s views, according to my reading of her posts.

I’ve done my research. I’ve chosen my care providers very carefully. I have support people who will be at my birth to speak on my behalf and help advocate for me, if necessary. I have chosen a hospital birth because I see it as the safest option. My brother is a pediatric EEG tech and deals with the aftermath of birth center and homebirths daily – babies who have suffered brain trauma during birth that went undetected for hours or days and now have permanent damage. While trauma of this type can happen at any birth, the likelihood of it going undetected is much lower in a hospital.

I understand that the majority of home and birth center births are uncomplicated and result in healthy babies, however, reducing the risks of long term damage to my children is much more important to me than my own birth experience.

Reply

rachel September 1, 2011 at 1:35 am

lol; this made me laugh out loud

Reply

Jupiter September 1, 2011 at 6:27 am

My 1st pregnancy was a rape conception. Soooo…..I know what rape felt like and yes, that experience I had was like a rape.Physical violations, often violent. Taking away a woman’s power and control. Rape.

Reply

Jupiter September 1, 2011 at 6:29 am

Sorry..this reply was meant to be posted under Chelle’s comment. Need coffee…

Reply

simone September 1, 2011 at 4:44 am

So I have to ask, what would you call it if a 12 year old girl was at a doctor’s office and they asked to palpitate her stomach, got consent, but then continued to put their fingers in her vagina, to poke roughly without asking, and when the little girl screams, they have a nurse hold her down. Her protesting mother is herded out of the room by another nurse, being told this is best for her daughter. Is that not rape? What if she was 16? Is it still rape? What if she was pregnant, does that make it better – it seems it should make it worse, violating an almost child in a way that would be perceived as sexual as most. Maybe you take issue with the age. It isn’t the same thing if you are a full grown woman, right. Try to tell a woman who was raped in a more traditional fashion that it doesn’t count because of her age.

What about date rape? A situation where a woman has given permission for one action – perhaps taking off her shirt and having her breasts touched, but then the man holds her down, and roughly penetrates her repeatedly with a sex toy, tearing her, making her bleed. Is this okay if its a man with a college education, or in a public place? Is it okay if others help him hold her down, or if its an intravaginal device used to make her bleed inside?

Are these things okay if you have been “ruffied”? What if your dentist molests you while under sedation?

If a man who happens to be a doctor came into your house, held you down, put his hand in you, made you bleed, made you SCREAM, is that rape. Why is it okay to have the exact same thing happen in public? Because of what the man is thinking? In this country we don’t criminalize what is going through someone’s head more than the physical action. So it should be okay because it isn’t “about sex”, right? Have you spoken to a survivor who’s been through counseling? Because the first thing they will say is that rape isn’t about sex, its about power.

Who has more power than a doctor? A policeman? Is it okay if a cop searches you and feels inside you without asking, or even informing you of what they plan to do?

If you will contend that NONE of these are rape, I will accept your argument that birth rape isn’t rape. But I think a lot more women would be offended that their abuse, degradation, date rape, resisted penetration, and molestation was not considered rape.

If you still say none of these are rape, perhaps it is because of the pregnancy, implying that a woman has diminished capacity because she is pregnant. You know, people used to think that disabled and coloured women were unable to act in their own best interest, and until 1976 some were given forcible sterilization during birth. Most sociologists would argue that that was a form of rape, since rape is something forced on someone in a power struggle; it becomes sex instead of assault when a vagina, anus, (and in many states) mouth or breasts are involved. That’s why date rape is still rape, that’s why marriage rape is still rape, that’s why molestation of a child is rape. These things have different names because people recognize that they’re very different experiences. Being plied with alcohol until you lose the ability to consent in college and then being forcibly penetrated is rape, as is being in locked in your house and repeatedly violated by a parent as small child – but they are different, thus our differing names for them.

You are welcome to contend that if such things happened to you, you personally would not consider them to be rape, but please allow other women to make that choice for themselves.

Reply

emilynne September 4, 2011 at 5:14 am

Thankyou Simone. I have read to your comment trying to collate my thoughts to make clear that rape is debasement of a human being thru violation of private power. The who, how many, where, what with are all irrelevant. If any person is attacked for whatever reason and violated and feels powerless it is rape. my first pregnancy and birth were a form of mental rape where all my choice were removed one way and another as well as having my body handled by nunerous starngers who treated me with contempt or indifferencce. Recovery is long and hard, still dealing with it 40 years on. My concern is that it is only after a woman experiences a form a birth rape that she feels activated to take a stand against the different levels of abuse. How do we prepare women to conceive and birth so that they maintain their power and integrity through the whole process?

Reply

Amber September 1, 2011 at 7:26 am

This is not just women who were forced into interventions they did not want complaining. It is women who were held down, drugged, and abused by strangers. Womens whose bodies were violated while they were restrained and screamed out against it. Some womens bodies were irreversibly damaged from the assault. It’s having someone reach inside your body, ignoring your pleas, insult you, dehumanize you, cause you pain so severe you beg for death, then walk away in disgust. If it was anyone else doing this calling it rape would be glaringly obvious. Getting a cute baby at the end does not justify torture. Women get babies from rape as well, does that make it okay? Really??

Reply

Juli September 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

Yeah seriously, did you read any of the stories? This is extremely traumatic for many women, they get PPD and PTSD, and some DO commit suicide. And you know what, I’ve heard from a lot of women who have been sexually assaulted before in their lives and they will admit that it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as birth rape.

If a doctor or MW is manually dilated you for no reason and without your permission, and you’re screaming at them to stop, it’s birth rape. I think it’s a very appropriate term, and most doctor’s and MWs don’t realize they are doing anything wrong… but when you take charge of a woman’s body, when you violate her body without her permission it is birth rape. It’s not about the pain… it’s about the force and violation.

Now if the baby is in danger the care provider needs to kindly say “I need to do ‘this, this and this’ to get this baby out, or else he/she will die” then wait for the mom to give her consent. The reason these doctor’s and MWs aren’t saying that is because they are doing in regardless of if the baby is in danger or not… they do it only to speed up labor, it’s ridiculous.

No offense, but it’s really bad taste to tell women that what they went through wasn’t real and they need to stop whining. Grow up.

Reply

Kitty Craig September 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

This comment to me is extremely offensive. I have been raped, repeatedly, by the same man, over and over. I had nightmares, anxiety attacks, depression and was suicidal for year. I went through therapist after therapist, drug after drug, Dr after Dr. The trauma I went through after I left that unprotected hell hold was more than my mind and body could bare. That being said, my birth of my son over 5 years ago caused the exact same physical and emotional trauma that was caused to me by that man violating me again and again. How dare you! How dare you say that my pain or anyone else’s pain is not comparable. You have no idea what I went through in my experience with rape or childbirth. I was young and uneducated, because of that I felt I had to do what I was told because it was the best for me and my baby, and I was a nurse. I think the fact that I was a nurse made it even worse. I was expected to do what the Dr said. What if you were to wake up with a persons hand shoved completely up your vagina, you have never met this person, you weren’t asked or awakened for it. Your husband wasn’t told what was going on, and didn’t know what to do when you were in tears because of the violation. Or even felt that after your delivery he couldn’t touch you for months because of the visual images he saw. And you don’t want to be touched by the one you love because of the feelings of guilt and violations that occured. How dare you dictate my feelings and my emotions. I was raped! Both by a man and by the assumption that the medical community “doing what’s best for me”. I highly doubt that if I would have been told what would happen to me both physically and emotionally, that I would have ever concented to the “procedures” performed. I should have known what was going on, and the guilt of knowing that if I had I might have actually been a good mom for the first 2 years of my son’s life wouldn’t be there. So you can STFU!

Reply

Elizabeth September 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I love that she says she “can’t get PTSD” over it, like that’s ever a choice. *eye roll*

What you are saying WOULD be right, if every doctor was a hero, if every doctor actually understood and respected birth (rather than manipulated it), and if every “birth rape” was just a doctor saving a baby. BECAUSE this is not true, “birth rape” exists. So… “get over it” yourself. You’re being a dismissive and ignorant.

And yes, for some people, it’s so bad that they have a hard time living. For them, birth rape doesn’t just end in the hospital. They are also robbed of the beautiful experience of motherhood, consumed with terror and grief, unable to bond with their babies, etc. What should be a peaceful, sweet time is marred with flashbacks or even just overwhelming depression. If you didn’t know that, now you know.

But maybe brutal, horrific rapes would be better if a baby were presented at the end. Hmm… There’s an idea. Good consolation. But, since free babies aren’t plentiful, do you think the rape victims would take a cute puppy instead?

Yes, BWF, you should be charged for telling real stories of real women who were hurt by the system, since now people will be skeptical of hospitals. Likewise, altar boys should be charged for telling their stories, because now people will be skeptical of churches.

In other words– victims, be quiet! Your message is really inconvenient for me and my limited mental capacity cannot process anything other than convention without undue outrage!

Reply

Stephanie September 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

Riiiiiiiight……………….

Very well written mrs bwf, thank you for sharing!

Reply

Bec September 1, 2011 at 1:10 am

All i can say to the the immature people having a sook about this post is GROW UP! No where does this post make the assumption that ‘Birth Rape’ is the same as ‘Rape’ it simply discusses the feelings of many women who have felt violated, degraded, forced & abused during child birth!
The term ‘Birth Rape’ i think is actually very fitting and like someone above said the term ‘Rape’ belongs to the person that feels like it has happened to them. You have NO right to judge or tell them they were not ‘Raped’.
To all the women who have been ‘Birth Raped’ I am so very sorry, no one should ever have to experience this and i hope you are all able to move on and heal from it.
To all first time expecting parents, this is not a post meaning to scare you and drive you away from the hospital it is simply helping to educate you so you are prepared to say ‘NO’ and control your birth healthily!
The greatest power we have is knowledge & education! So educate yourselves and own your body and birth!

Miss BWF is a fantastic educator and if you don’t like the blog then don’t bloody read it!!!

Reply

A G September 1, 2011 at 1:16 am

I’m pretty sure if ANYONE sticks their hand up my NA-NA when I said no, it’s rape, whether it’s a licensed dr. or midwife or not.

Reply

Bec September 1, 2011 at 1:29 am

I’m sorry i know this in definitely NOT a laughing matter but when i read your comment i had to giggle at NA-NA!

Reply

rachel September 1, 2011 at 1:36 am

I agree completely with that!

Reply

Rosie September 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

LOL yeah had to giggle at the NA-NA too! But seriously, I almost kicked a Nurse Practitioner in the face for a painful exam, when not pregnant. And they saw that the foot-to-face almost happened to them, and that I was serious, and when they went back in they were so much more gentle! If that happened when I HAD given permission, I know I would’ve let it connect if it had been without permission. I can’t imagine.

Reply

This_womans_birth September 1, 2011 at 2:04 am

I am shocked that there are people who despite reading the article, despite reading the comments from many women here can stand back and say “Nah… no such thing. Didn’t happen… you just see it that way… but you shouldn’t!”

Lets go over this one more time for the REALLY thick crowd (You are American after all… hahaha). RAPE is by definition the forceable application or stripping of one’s rights and abilities through penetration, violation or despoliation by physical force.
Sometimes it is sexual (The antagoniser receiving some sexual benefit from the act), other times it is for the pure assertion of power.

In the case of birth rape we are dealing with the kind of rape that is for assertion of power. REGARDLESS of whether someone has consented to give birth with that caregiver, in that place with those expectations placed on them – if they revoke their permission over ANY part of their care, they have the right to have their wishes respected. Even if that caregiver had permission to insert whatever into their vagina at the start. If the woman says NO. No means NO!

If my husband inserts anything into my vagina and I scream at him to STOP, if he doesn’t respect this directive, that I have revoked his permission to do this – it is RAPE. Regardless of whether he was doing it for sexual pleasure or was taking my temperature or checking my dialation (All things he has done in the past for me).

If you can understand THIS why would you not understand all the experience that these people are putting out here in their stories? Mine is one. Would you like a fully articulated case of Birth Rape in action? See MY blog http://www.thiswomansbirth.blogspot.com and read about my 1st birth. I also explain that I was repeatidly raped and molestered by 2 men when I was between the ages of 5 and 9. I have experience with this also and can speak as a survivor of both areanas.

To answer one of the previous poster’s replies about “Where is the evidence based research, collated reports, etc”. Let me tell you why outside these stories (Which may be hard to access out here on obscure blogs, but are not in short supply as we’ve seen in the comments here!) you will find no research on this area…

Drs are the ones that perform the research.
It is already well documented in Dr’s training material that a reliance on the power imbalance in labor and birth is one of their main methods of coercian to achieve their personal outcomes. Why on EARTH would they reveal the true effect this has on women and then be forced to stop doing it?
They have worked bloody hard over the last 100 years to ensure that this power imbalance exists in the first place. They have victimised women who birth at home, they have removed their MW’s previledges and have in turn restricted their professional development potential (Seeing and working with births of all kinds hands on, to the point where no-one knows how to deliever a breech birth).
In the end who does this profit and who does this disadvantage?
Always $ for the Obs and always a slap in the face for the laboring women.

Try asking for rainbow coated unicorns before you ask for something as impossible as an un-biased or un-realistic study to be completed by ACOG’s little cronnies…

Reply

Racheal September 1, 2011 at 8:37 am

This Woman’s Birth – thank you for making that point of ‘if she revokes that permission at anytime’… b/c ABSO*FREAKIN*LUTELY. If a woman meets a man on a ‘lets get together to do dirty things’ sight & makes plans to have dinner & then go back to a hotel room. They get back to the room after dinner, he gets undressed & then as she starts to she realizes ‘WTF am I doing!?!… I gotta get out of here’. Does he still get to do what he feels is right b/c that’s what ‘she agreed to’. Or would it still be rape? I think all these people who are saying ‘it’s birth, they are your dr… get over it’ really need to stop missing the point. I had an unneeded c/s (ftd “fast enough”), did it cause severe lasting emotional damage, yes… was it rape, hell no, it was the system screwing me over as it does SOOOO many women. But there is a big difference between what happened to me & what happened in many of these stories. These women aren’t complaining about ‘oh the contractions hurt… oh I had to push a baby out & that ring of fire sure is painful’… no the things that happened to them go far beyond what is natural or even what is needed. As my first OB put it ‘even if the baby is dieing inside of you, nothing can be done WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION’. So for these people to say ‘well it was all for your baby’ is irrelavent. ‘Well ma’am, apparently kidnappers told him if he didn’t break into your house & rape you then they’d hurt his kids… so we aren’t gonna prosecute him cause it was for the greater good.’

Reply

Robin September 1, 2011 at 2:06 am

I am a rape survivor. When I was 13, I was molested by a close family member, who until then I loved and respected more than anything. My innocence was ripped away and my spirits were drowned. Since I lived with this person, I felt fear every single day that it would happen again. I still have nightmares 11 years later.

That being said, both of my births I experienced birth rape. I’m not quite ready to even talk about my 1st. Summary: ended with a c/s that I was not numb for and my husband was made wait outside the OR. I advocate about better birthing all the time because of the abuse and negligence I fell victim to during that labor.

Armed with info on VBAC’ing and the support of the staff at the hospital everything went great…until a nurse who was doing a routine exam grabbed my cervix and yanked it because after 12 hours I was only 3cm. She did not tell me what she was doing. I kicked the crap out of her to make her stop and we were sent walking-thank God!!! When I came back she told me my cervix was posterior and I told her quiet frankly that she was not EVER to do anything like that to me especially without telling me first, and send some one else if she thought something needed to be done. I was really deeply disturbed by this and felt very violated. When someone penetrates your vagina and does things that you do don’t consent to it is rape, even during birth. It does not matter if is a penis, hand, medical tool, or a broomstick! Luckily for me, once I put my foot down to this staff they didn’t pull any crazies on me anymore.

Had I not been a victim of sexual abuse with very good learned coping skills all these years, I would be a total wreck right now, as this does really bother me. We women are strong. Bad things happen. If we take offense to other women’s pain and suffering, then there is seriously something wrong here. Rape is real. Birth Rape is real. Neiter can be minimized. Having a healthy baby does not erase violation, not even close.

Reply

JoJo September 1, 2011 at 8:45 am

I’m an expectant mom and it is not scaring me out of a hospital. In fact, if you do research and educate yourself BEFORE you give birth, you will be prepared and know when the doctor is trying to rush your birthing experience or try to steal it away. This blog is not insulting to others, even those who have been sexually assaulted. Birth rape is real. @ Chelle, you have some issues and assuming that is scares expectant mothers out of the hospital is stupid. Instead, it teaches and prepares us. I am giving birth in the hospital, this is my first child, and I am feeling confident and prepared to be sure I have a natural birth in the hospital. I have no choice since my husband is active duty marine. My husband also taught himself on all of this so if I’m in too much pain and they are trying to manipulate me, he will be my supporter and tell me what they are trying to do so I don’t feel cheated out of my natural birthing experience. I want a natural birth, I will do one in the hospital, and I will not let any doctor try to hurry my labor or I will take my foot and kick them square in the face. Keep the needles and instruments away from me or you will walk out of the room with a broken nose. I was made a woman and women are made to give birth naturally. It’s rare to ever really need a c-section but doctors LOVE throwing it out to women like it’s candy along with with the epidural, pitocin, and water breaking. Can’t fool me on this, I’ve educated myself on this. Good luck to every other expectant mother. & Chelle, one last thing, learn to spell if you want to look intelligent rather than ignorant. XoXo Much love women.

Reply

Robin September 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

JoJo- It is so great that you have educated yourself. So many first time mom’s don’t. This article was written to let you know this sort of thing is real in any birthing environment. And, as you may have read in the comments some people couldn’t stop the OB or homebirth midwife from violating them. It isn’t meant to try to scare you out of a hospital birth. In fact, I think it is wonderful that your husband took part in learning what should and shouldn’t happen..if this happens, it should be followed by____. You’re birth experience should go great because of a knowledgeable support system to back you up.

Reply

Robin September 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

JoJo- It is so great that you have educated yourself. So many first time mom’s don’t. This article was written to let you know this sort of thing can be real in any birthing environment. And, as you may have read in the comments some people couldn’t stop the OB or homebirth midwife from violating them. It isn’t meant to try to scare you out of a hospital birth. In fact, I think it is wonderful that your husband took part in learning what should and shouldn’t happen..if this happens, it should be followed by____. You’re birth experience should go great because of a knowledgeable support system to back you up.

Reply

Christy September 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

As someone who was raped several times one night by two men as a teenager, I’d like to respond to the people who are upset at using the term rape in connection with birth. What these women describe in these comments along with other stories I’ve read and heard from friends is far more horrifying than what I went through. Rape doesn’t have to involve a penis to be called rape! I have two friends who had (male) doctors insert their arms clear into their wombs after birth to remove the placenta. My one friend had an unmedicated birth, so with zero pain relief, her doctor actually had BOTH arms inside her vagina right after she had given birth. I don’t want to be raped at all, but if I had to choose, I’d pick a penis any day over arms! At least my vagina is designed to fit a penis, but certainly not arms! Both of these friends never had more than their one child, and I have several other friends who had no more children after a traumatizing birth.

I really don’t understand some people being offended by calling this birth rape. If a man broke into a pregnant woman’s house and assaulted her vagina with his hands and various medical tools while she screamed at him to stop, would it not be called rape even if he never involved his penis in any way?

Reply

Christy September 2, 2011 at 12:09 am

I have worked in an OBGYN office for over 10 years…Our drs are all for a birthing plan..They recommend that even if you chose to have a home birth with a mid-wife that you also find a dr to go over your plan..This will help in the off chance that a hospital is required then you have covered all your bases,that way a DR can be called, that knows you and your plan and can stick to that plan as close as he can in an emergency,to have a healthy happy baby and momma..This way you are comfortable with everyone in your plan and hopefully this type of thing will hopefully stop happening..I had my babies in a hospital but had very good births nothing i would change …but everyone should have their own plan of what they want as long as it is safe to momma and baby.

Reply

Robin September 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Sadly, the majority of OBGYN clinics do not follow the same great model your’s does.

Reply

Mim September 29, 2011 at 9:51 am

11 years ago we had our 4th child. The last appointment with the doctor before the birth I came away from distraught, shaking and crying and I told my husband then that I felt like I’d been raped. (I’d been molested as a child, and that was the word/feelings that doctor — a female — triggered in me).

I didn’t do anything about it … didn’t even change doctors. Just played the victim and let that same doctor turn my birth experience into what was for me a painful nightmare.

My next birth was at home with a midwife that I trusted implicitly, but even at that, I was an emotional wreck. And, now, unexpectedly pregnant with our 6th child, and in a different state with different laws, I am forced into a hospital birth situation once again, in an area known for it’s medicalization of the birth process. I went into a deep depression for several months when I found out I was pregnant and as I get closer to the time for this baby’s arrival (I’m 38 weeks now) and experience the signs of pre-labor, I have found myself constantly fighting severe anxiety.

I stumbled on this blog entry/site yesterday, and I cannot tell you what a difference it has already made. Although I knew the previous birth had had an impact on me, I was unable to acknowledge fully, even to myself, the extent of that impact. I had never heard anyone else describe their birth experience as rape, and I felt guilty using that term myself. But as I read other people here speaking out about their own experiences, it is finally helping me to find my own voice. That is empowering, and I need all the empowering I can get right now.

Thank you.

Reply

Mrs. BWF September 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

(((hugs))) mama. I am so glad you found your way here. :)

Reply

Abby October 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

This was a hard read…..the blog post and comments.

During my daughter’s birth I was held down and ‘examined’. It was one of the most painful and humiliating experiences of my life. It happened after hours of other humiliating interventions.

I suffered from PTSD for a long time after her birth. The whole thing played over and over and over again in my head…..I was very suicidal and had times when I couldn’t be left alone. I don’t remember the first 11 months of my daughter’s life and it has impacted my mothering life. these ‘care’ providers don’t see the effects of their assaults. It’s just another day, another ‘birth’ to them, but to the mamas the wounds run deep. I know my children and husband have been effected by the birth rape.

I have since had two amazing homebirths, one that ended in a transfer due to a severe blood loss (unconscious and convulsing), but that in itself was quite empowering. As soon as I was conscious I spoke up for myself and refused to have th doctor do whatever he wanted …which involved a very deep and painful pelvic exam. Because I asked him to remove his hand from me and refused his ideas of ‘treatment’, he refused to treat me. Although I would’ve preferred just to stay at home, I was empowered by being heard…to a point…and having a voice.

Reply

Ashlea January 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

I just read this blog entry and some of the comments, well most of the comments and as an expecting mommy first time mommy at 18 wks and only 22 years old, I am so glad I found this information and now can be well informed for when I do go to the hospital to have my baby. I have also decided to tell my boyfriend who will be with me the whole time, I hope, to make sure that nothing is done to me without my consent even if I’m in too much pain or exhausted to fight for myself, I will make a plan that he can make sure all the staff stick to. Before reading this I thought that the most I had to worry about was if the staff gave my baby a bottle and he/she got a flow preference for the bottle over the boob. I told the boyfriend to make sure that no matter what happened to me that the baby was not taken away unless he/she required going to the NICU and to make sure no one gave came near the baby with a bottle. I’ve been mostly terrified of an accidental baby swap or just missing that first bonding experience. Now I understand that I should be better informed and need to ask lots of questions. After seeing my best friend’s easy birth I never thought of how my wishes could be ignored or how I could not be informed of what the Drs would do to my body. I thank you so much for this information and I am very sorry for the experiences that some of the ladies have had to endure, it is disgusting that events like this happen.

Reply

Joy Bordn January 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I know how they feel. I give birth six months ago at a hospital and after I delivered my son the doctor didn’t want to wait for the placenta so he reached in a pulled it out. I have had a IUD put in but I have been bleeding every since after birth and I have only stopped for like maybe two weeks this whole time. I wonder if that’s the reason for my bleeding. So I decided that my next child will be born at home with my family and loving midwife.

Reply

Ashley January 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I had planned all natural child birth. I made the birthing plan and everything. I did want to be at the hospital to make my family atease with the birthing. She was the first grand baby. I lost my pawpaw the day before my due date. I went to he funeral pregnant and ready to pop. I was big enough that when EMS came to pick him up from my mom’s house, they thought they were there to get me to the hospital. I was looking so forward to having my baby naturally, even with people telling me I was nuts. I found out the OBGYN I was going to did not do water birthing, so I went to a midwife. I thought I could trust them to help push the natural child birth, but I was wrong. My last visit they said they were ready to have this baby. This was after the scare of when they sent in a specailist to tell me I had been leaking fluid, and had a chance of a dry birth. My baby was fine, and so was I. I knew when they took me and my parents back into the room what they had to say. I wanted to wait for my husband to make it back first before I allowed any words to be spoken. I cried, and just looked at my parents for comfort. The first thing I said to them was, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to go there now. All they will do is surgery, and I don’t want it.” My husband came in, and then the midwife. All she had to say was that I was being admitted to the labor and delivery floor that day, and in the morning they would induce. I got woke up every hour to take a pill to soften my cervics. At 7 am, I got a lovely IV to start induction. I tried to relax, but inside all I could do was cry. I was afraid of the downward spiral that comes with interference of laboring. I had my father tot my IV poll around the hall for hours. I got to 5cm and still walking. I was told that after 4 hours at 5cm that I was not going to waterbirth. I was so upset, and the induction aid that was still coursing through my IV was making it harder for me. 7pm. I decided I needed the epidural to get through the birthing if I was going to be doing it on the bed. My husband tried to talk me out of it, but after she broke my water (and it isn’t supposed to hurt, but it did) I felt it was over for me anyways. Before they got there with the epidural, she came back to tell me I would be having a c-section. I had just sent my father and husband off, telling them i would be awhile before the baby got there that they should go take care of a few things and my mom went to get a drink. I was alone when I was told the most horrifying thing you can tell a laboring woman. The baby and I were in no danger, so why? I just laid there and cried. Everyone came back immediately. The anesthesiologist was trying to put in the epiduarl during contractions( I know that is a no no). He punctured me causing a spinal fluid leak. I didn’t even get to enjoy hearing my baby coming out. I was in and out of black outs the whole time. I was shaking so bad that the nurse kept pulling my arms back out to the sides. My husband tried to hold my hand, but I kept pulling my arms into my chest. I thought I was dying. The midwife went to pull the curtain down enough so they could show me my baby, when they yelled at her not to. How was I supposed to feel then? Not only was everything taken from me during labor, but then I couldn’t even see my baby. My husband knew I wanted him to watch over her, so he went with our bundle of joy, but was told not to look at my body. I was out cold for an hour in recovery before holding my baby. My baby was 6lbs. 10oz. I lost over 7 lbs before leaving the hospital. The following week at my check up they decided to talk to me about my surgery. I was borderline blood transfusion. I was dying on the operating table. My fluid levels dropped so bad, that I was still on an IV until the day I left. I was having to take iron pills and eat a special diet while I was there. We had our second child 8 1/2 months ago. I was considered high risk, because at 8 months along I had a car accident. I had been t-boned on my side. I was in the hospital 4 times with off and on contractions. I couldn’t even think of trying to do a VBAC after what I went through. I just scheduled my c-section, and it was easier, but I felt like I had no hope of feeling the birthing no matter how hard I tried. I atleast got to relax and see her when she was born, and I even got to see a monitor to watch her as they cleaned her up.

Reply

Amber January 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I just realized that the birth of my son 5 years ago was “birth rape.” I was 19 years old, with little support from my family & ex-husband. I had this idea that I wanted a natural childbirth but I was convinced by everyone that I was crazy and NEEDED an epidural, etc. I had to transfer doctors in my last trimester because we moved across the country and I only had one option for doctors due to my insurance regulations (my ex was in the military and we had to use a military hospital). I was treated like crap from the beginning, called a liar, and my choices/opinion were not even given a second thought. I was treated like dirt.

When I was 10 days after my due date, I lost my mucus plug. I did not know what was going on and I was scared. My ex was at work so I drove to the hospital and they laughed at me and sent me home. I went home, folded laundry and when I stood up my water broke. I drove myself 45 minutes to the hospital to be checked (for the second time that day) and when I walked to the labor floor I heard a nurse say, “What is she doing here?” The ward clerk then told her that my water had broken and I was being admitted.

About an hour after I was admitted I was given an IV, and Pitocin was started. A couple of hours later an anesthesiologist came in and told me he was going to give me my epidural. I was scared, uninformed, and alone so I signed the paper. The epidural never did work and I felt everything. I was panicky the whole time because I did not have anyone to calm me down. My ex was just as scared as I was and he was pretty much in tears himself.

When the nurse (the same hateful one from admission) came in to check my cervix, she proceeded to insert a finger into my rectum. I screamed in pain and told her if she ever did that again I would punch her in the face. I know that was not the nicest thing to say on my part but I was scared, hurting, & being ignored by every member of the hospital staff.

18 hours later my 7 lb 15.2 oz baby boy was born. I only had a slight tare & my little boy was healthy. But, something was missing. I told them I wanted to breastfeed and was given little support and the nurse was really rough trying to get my son to latch on (which he never did). I was told to give it up and give him a bottle. I felt so defeated.

Still to this day, when I think about my sons birth I think about all of the traumatic things and not the joys of birth.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: