Birth Rape

Ez - posted on 09/08/2010 ( 70 moms have responded )

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This article popped up on my FB newsfeed today, and I thought it would spark an interesting discussion.

http://jezebel.com/5632689/what-is-birth...

The phrase has been circulating on midwife and childbirth blogs for several years, but is starting to gain force. Here's how a blog devoted to the topic, Birth Trauma Truths, describes it:

A vulnerable woman, who is powerless to leave the situation, is at times held down against her will, has strangers looking & touching at private parts of her body, perhaps without appropriate measures being taken to acknowledge her ownership of her body or to preserve her comfort levels. Perhaps she has fingers or instruments inserted without her consent, and sometimes against her consent, invading and crossing decent boundaries. She is fearful of what is happening to her and perhaps for the wellbeing of her baby, and receives no reassurance that either she or her child are ok. That is a violation, no matter how you look at it. Even IF this treatment is given with no malice and the intent of attempting to assist her with birthing her child, there is NEVER a reason to forgo common decencies that will enable her to maintain a role in the birth, some autonomy over her body, to be involved in the decision-making, to be informed about what they want to do BEFORE they do it.

It also angers those who don't want to see rape associated with a natural and profound experience like giving birth to a baby. One blog cites a commenter who had a visceral response to a comparison of "as long as you and the baby are healthy" to "at least he didn't kill you":

It is NOTHING like a rape victim being told they are lucky to be alive! Your baby did nothing wrong.. when someone is raped it is a crime, it involves malice and perverted behaviour. Your baby needed to get out, and you needed it out. That doesn't even compare!! I am saddened by the fact that some women actually feel this way. As i have never, and never will. i DIDNT put my hand up for a cesarean, but it definitely isn't the worst thing that could of happened to me or baby.

There are a lot of really thoughtful comments in the thread below.

So how do you feel about the word 'rape' being associated with birth trauma? I think it's important to point out (as some did in the comments) that the medical practitioners intentions are not what leads to the use of the word. Those who talk about birth rape are not suggesting any sexual gratification on the part of birth attendants, but rather the bodily autonomy that is sometimes overlooked during hospital birth.

I'm actually torn on this issue. While I believe birth trauma is very real and can have a lasting impact on both mother and baby, regarding it as 'rape' just makes me cringe.

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Sharon - posted on 09/08/2010

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Um seriously ??? WTF?? Bitches give up the control. You cannot control every fucking thing. Childbirth is one of the more unpredictable things in life. Its also a crapshoot. Your child might be perfect it might not. Your birth might be as you DICTATE it to be and it might not. Geezus h. christ. fucking bullshit to compare medical, life saving procedures that they choose to subject themselves to with rape.

Ez - posted on 09/09/2010

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I can completely see how labelling birth trauma with the word 'rape' would be insensitive to victims of abuse and sexual assault. This is partly why I don't like the terminology.

The fact that everyone's perceptions are different is the very reason why we can't discount someone else's pain and feelings. I watched a birth doco recenty where the woman used the gas - and still screamed - for an internal. Part of me thought, 'man my internals didn't hurt like that! WTF!!'. The other part realised that I don't know this woman's history, her life or her pain. It doesn't mean she is 'weak', it just means her experience was different.

Ez - posted on 09/08/2010

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Emma you really don't think someone doing or continuing with an internal after you have refused is a violation? You really think it's acceptable for a mother to be cut after she has explicitly told the doctor that she does not want a 'routine' episiotomy?

As for the suggestion that 'bitches' should give up control of their bodies purely because they are in labour, I just find that utterly ridiculous. Do things happen unexpectedly during birth? Of course. But does that mean all sense of dignity and choice goes out the window?

Amie - posted on 09/08/2010

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While I'm torn on the terminology, I like Katherine's post calling it assault rather then rape.



It is something that should be talked about. It can happen and probably does more then we know.



No one ever has the right to poke and prod at a person without their consent. Not once have I ever had a doctor or nurse stick anything inside me during my labor and birthings without first letting me know what was going on.



I would be extremely upset and more then pissed off if they just assumed, just because I was in labour, that they had a right to do whatever they wanted to MY body.



Sure some of these interventions save lives of both mother and baby. The mother is still entitled to know what is going on at all times.

Katherine - posted on 09/09/2010

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I didn’t have a birth plan but I had a LOT of things done which I don’t think needed to be done but I wasn’t given the choice they just did it.

That's what this is about. Not having a CHOICE. By law you have certain RIGHTS. I don't think women realize this and of course a doctor isn't going to tell you.
Quick little history lesson: Rape comes from the Latin word Rapere which means to seize. So really we made the definition of the term, but that really isn't the true meaning.

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Stifler's - posted on 09/10/2010

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gosh carol that's awful i never knew people were strapped down at all. the hospital i went to was pretty into natural births i think, no elective cesareans, no epidurals unless you have a cesarean. they told me i didn't need an internal and just kept my fluids up and kept me walking, i got gas for a bit but abandoned it in favour of the shower and hot packs and massage and they talked me out of pethidine. could have been because i was low risk too. there was no food restriction either i got food at meal times and ate lollies all night.

[deleted account]

Again neither of those are rape. They are kidnapping, holding against will, GBH, torture, maybe even attempted murder (of the mother) and I'm sure there is a plethora of other crimes they could be charged with.

I read about an actual birth rape (where the women was raped while in labour just to be clear) last year, I have been searching for the article but I can't find it to post it. The gist of the article was her b/f was abusive before and during her pregnancy, he expected sex every night if he did not get it he took it (rape). On the night she went into labour he demanded sex before he took her to the hospital, she refused, he raped her then took her to the hospital. THAT is birth rape!

JuLeah - posted on 09/10/2010

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A woman in labor does better walking around, if she is able to change position, if she has less restricted movement, so yes, if she is held to the bed with IV's and fetal moniters, she is straped down - least that is what it feels like

We had planned a home birth. Chose a mid wife with a good working relationship with a doctor (cause ya never know) and did have to transport.

With out a word, nurses started in with IV's (standard practice they told us) and moniters ..... we hollored NO

The doc came in and backed us up. He too felt birth ought to happen at home, where a woman is more comfortable and felt he was only there if needed

He told the staff, this is not the birth they wanted, we will do our best to met them half way

Standard practice means, they cover their asses for insurance reasons, not that it is best for mother or baby

So, no IV, no moniter - baby was monitered with a hand held thingy that was not inserted

The food restriction is just in case a C-section is needed, so your stomach is empty and doesn't react with the drugs they give you, but ice chips as your only food is not actually the best thing for mother and baby, so food was brought in

Healthy baby was born

I learned too that in hospital, there are many standard tests done that are painful, invasive, and not really needed - we objected to that too, whcih the doc agreed with

We interviewed many doctors before picking this guy. We wanted someone we could trust and someone who would trust us and listen

Petra - posted on 09/10/2010

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I think that those behind labeling this as 'birth rape' chose such a loaded word for it because they wanted to sensationalize what many women feel is disrespectful, callous treatment at the hands of medical staff. However, having this phrase taken seriously means tossing the word rape around for things that are in NO WAY rape - call it what it is: medical effing malpractice. If you want to lessen the seriousness with which rape victims are already treated and cloud the issue of actual sexual rape, then by all means, start having the word apply to any instance where you feel your bodily autonomy has been taken away. Oral rape at the dentist, foot rape at the podiatrist, butt rape at the proctologist, etc.

If you want complete control over your birthing experience, have a home birth with a midwife or a doula you trust. If that spirals out of control and you have to go to the ER, they are going to do whatever is necessary to deliver that baby because that is their job. If you planned a hospital birth and find that the staff is quickly turning on you and ignoring your wishes, doing things you completely don't agree with and not informing you of what is going on, lodge a formal complaint or press charges. If you want to raise awareness about the feelings of violation and being railroaded by medical staff, then by all means, write about it on blogs or websites. Leave the term "rape" out of it. You can draw all the parallels you want, but whatever awful things doctors and nurses do to pregnant women during delivery is not rape unless they hop up on the table and actually rape you.

Ez - posted on 09/10/2010

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I think most of us have agreed that the term 'rape' is probably not the best choice when referring to birth trauma. I think it stems from the idea that rape is about power, and having someone conduct medical procedures on you against your wishes is also an exertion of power. From what I've read, that's how the term 'birth rape' has developed recently.

Toni, good for you for making a complaint. And Shannon, I hope you reported your case as well!

[deleted account]

But a violation of your rights in that kind of way (injections against your will) is NOT rape. I have experienced something similar to that myself, when I was pregnant I suffered a heavy bleed (where I thought I had miscarried -luckily not), while at the hospital the doctor tried to take a few viles of blood (as they do) but after 3 attempts of sticking the needle in and waggling to try and hit a vein he had still NOT got any blood (he tried in really odd places - halfway down my forearms on both left and right and the back of my thumb). I was in agony and so refused him permission he went mad at me and then attempted to stick the needle in again against my will I moved my arm and told him in no uncertain terms that my permission was removed he was not to lay a hand on me again. Yes it was a violation (amongst many other issues I had with this particular hospital thank goodness it was not my local) for which I put in an official complaint but a violation is not rape.

[deleted account]

Wow Carol thats horrible for any woman who experienced it.

Erin, Exactly. It's such a fine line.

I was given pethidine against my will with my 1st child in the same manner as the person you know of and thats a violation of rights and thats where the issues start.

Johnny - posted on 09/09/2010

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Up to the mid 60's it was fairly common practice to strap women to beds, medicate them into unconsciousness and physically push the baby out. Women would awaken hours later to find out that they'd had a baby who was being cared for in the nursery. This was called the 'Twilight Sleep'. It left women with no memory of the birth of their child and made breastfeeding initiation next to impossible (often never even offered as an option in the hospital). I know that my mother's mother had 3 of her 5 children in this manner here in Canada in the late 40's and early 50's.

Ez - posted on 09/09/2010

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I don't think women are literally strapped to the beds anymore. Maybe what Juleah was getting at was that, with the rate of intervention, many women are confined to the bed because of EFM and IVs?? I'm assuming that's what she meant. That, in and of itself, would certainly not qualify as birth trauma IMO, as it is standard practice in many hospitals and should be either prepared for or alternative arrangements made.



Highly interventional birth, while not desired by many (myself included) is not what this is about. As far as I can understand, birth trauma is when a birthing woman's bodily rights are violated against her will. Many women are absolutely fine with every intervention in the book, and not the least bit shocked or distressed with that experience because it is what they have discussed during their prenatal care. And yes, sometimes birth does turn into a true emergency, where all efforts to resolve the situation must be undertaken swifty, perhaps without time to have long discussions with the labouring woman and her support people. To me, birth trauma falls somewhere in between. Someone I know was given a shot of pethidine against her wishes (it had been offered, she had declined, the midwife did it during a contraction anyway). That is just one example of how someone would feel violated during birth by having their choices ignored. That is birth trauma.

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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I've never heard anyone say they were strapped down during labour either. Has anyone on here been strapped down?

Katherine - posted on 09/09/2010

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They used to strap women down.....I haven't heard of it happening in the States.

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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Strapping people to a bed is a restraint and requires a doctors order and reasons for the restraint. Since when do they restrain women during labour??

JuLeah - posted on 09/09/2010

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Our mid wife told us that the birth is (usually) easier, smoother, safer, when the mother is in charge, when she is comfortable in her body/with her body, when she is educated about the process and the options in the event of ....



When the mother is frightened, traumatized, disempowered, uneducated, ashamed of her body (naked in front of others) there are more complications, more trips to the ER, more C-Sections, more babies die, more mothers die .....



Our mid wife said the facts speak for themselves - most women in her experiance are having an easy labor until they arrive at the hospital and all control is taken from them, they are strapped to a bed, IV's given, instruments inserted .... then they freak and it goes downhill



I never thought of putting the word rape to this. I am not sure it is a good fit, as the word implies a complete lack of empathy, a need to dominate/control/cause pain



Doctors are ignorant about so many many things, but have proven over time that they can learn - think of labor in the 1960's - improvements have been made because women have found and used their voice ... we need to keep talking

Katherine - posted on 09/09/2010

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My second birth was a nightmare! I felt totally violated and disrepected and ignored. I'm still not over it. I don't call it rape by any means, but by the definition I just put up, the true meaning of rape is to seize. I definitley felt taken over. I kept telling the nurses and doctors that I couldn't BREATHE and they ignored me. I had a deep mucousy cough, which they also ignored. I could barely WALK, I was coughing so hard I was peeing my pants. The next day I went to my PCP, and low and behold I had pneumonia. Should I get over THAT????? I should have raised hell. They did a lot wrong in that hospital. Am I scarred for life? No. Am I pissed? YES.

Should I suck it up? Hell no, and to say "Oh just let them do what they have to do." Well, again it's all circumstantial.

[deleted account]

Emma thats right it is.....But women need to be informed and have the choice. I never wanted full control over my labour but i wanted to know what they had plans of doing and for them to discuss it with me not have them Just do it because they apparently know better.

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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Whatevs. Labour is a violating experience in itself. You can't control everything.

[deleted account]

So a woman who feel violated during labour should just get over it and move on just because she was in labour and Dr have to do what they have to?
There were no emergencies for me and yet i feel mildly violated during my most recent labour and i have never had "prior Traumas".

I Didn't realise i felt so strongly about this thread until now :s

[deleted account]

these doctors are who they are to make sure they get the baby out safely and mom as well.. im sorry but i would like to believe that most ob's will do what they need to do to do this and im sorry for these women who probably have had some prior traumas, sexually, but these are issues that they need to work out b4, or during pg so they can have a chance at having a nice birth, even with complications, it happens people! with my first son who had troubles getting out i was like do what you need to do which was an emergency c,

[deleted account]

Hmmm... Emma that is a fair point and I can see exactly what you mean, although I hardly think the women using the term would feel like they are joking about rape. It is a powerful word that describes an horrific and absolute degradation and violent, physical assault; I wonder if it is in fact the very power and strength of the term rape that leads some women to use it to describe their birth experience rather than them using their experience to remove power from the word. One of the posters in the discussion on the original article wrote something that I think fairly effectively sums up what I am trying to say, (I do not agree when they say we should use the phrase all the time, but do agree with the sentiment they express):

"If the phrase "birth rape" raises awareness of the trauma women pointlessly suffer in childbirth at the hands of others, we should all use it all the time. Using the term rape gratuitously is horrifically insensitive to the victims of actual rape, but that is not what is going on here."


Just like when one of the other commenters to the article tells of her experience as a previous rape victim who during her labour was held down by nurses to perform an unwanted, unnecessary standard procedural cervical check while she screamed no over and over and refused consent verbally; when she says that felt no different to being raped 10 years prior, who am I to tell her she has no right to use that term. There are other women who tell similar stories and I am sure there are a silent few who have shared experiences like this. I have no doubt that they do not wish to remove the valid power of the term rape or to be dismissive of rape victims experiences, but I do think they have a right to their own perceptions of their experiences and that the very visceral meaning of the word rape probably allows them to ascribe a known description to an otherwise difficult to encapsulate emotional and physical experience.

[deleted account]

Rape is when a person is forced to have sex against a their will. Traumatic labours although horrendous are NOT rape and to say it is is disrespectful to true rape victims, you cannot compare the two events.

Personally I feel that birth plans are to blame for many traumatic births (not all), as women set their heart on one thing, be it a water birth or a full epidural birth, without being open to the reality that labour cannot be predicted and our plans have to be flexible and open to change. If women allowed the flexiblity of their birth plans I feel they would be less 'traumatised' with negative outcomes (obviously excluding unforseen medical emergencies).

[deleted account]

Sharon i usually love what you have to say.

"My guess is those weak willed, uninformed, uneducated, women talked sunshine & roses and pink cheeked babies until they were as high as kites without ever discussing the nitty gritty shit on yourself, scream for help, see shit through a fog birth story with anyone, much less their doctors."

I am in NO way a weak woman for starters. My bad birth experience happened with my 3rd child not my 1st or 2nd so how was I uninformed and weak willed?
I am very open minded when it comes to birth and everything has to go with it. My Dr and I discussed EVERYTHING even with my 1st I didn’t go in thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. But with my 3rd I am very disappointed to how it went. I didn’t have a birth plan but I had a LOT of things done which I don’t think needed to be done but I wasn’t given the choice they just did it.
Dr’s DON’T always know best. I wish women would realise that.

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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No they shouldn't. Calling uninformed unconsented medical procedures rape is like joking about rape when someone jumps on you. If it's not rape, it's not rape.

[deleted account]

Sharon, I don't think that a woman who expresses herself and tells of her pain and trauma experienced during a traumatic birth should ever be accused of whinging or glory hounding or ever told to shut up. She is possibly just attempting to reconcile her feelings or seek reassurance or compassionate understanding regarding her birth and I think all women who feel the need should be given the chance to debrief about their experience and offered opportunity to heal themselves emotionally, for their sake and the sake of their children. The telling of their experience (should they wish to share) also puts out more information for women who wish to be informed of possibilities and adds to the knowledge of malpractice and unacceptable treatment outcomes which can only contribute to ensuring these are minimised for future women. You don't want to hear it, fine; don't listen, don't read the stories. But calling women weak-willed, uninformed and uneducated and telling them to grow up just adds insult to injury to someone who may have already experienced a horrible event. You are putting your own perception onto their experience by implying that the majority of women who had poor birth experiences brought it on themselves by being unrealistic.

Like I said, I don't agree with using the term Birth Rape as an official term when discussing birth trauma either, but each individual should be allowed to attach any term they wish to describe their personal experience. If any of you have read any of the comments that followed the original article in the OP, you will find a few stories there that to me perfectly justify the tellers application of their own terms to their experience. No matter our own experiences and perspectives, we have no right to callously deny someone the right to own and attribute a title to their personal experience. We can agree that it is ineffectual to use their term as an official term, but not criticise them for their perception.

Morgan - posted on 09/09/2010

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I dont like the saying "birth rape" at all!!
but I do think some people are treated unfairly when it comes to giving birth.
I was 25 when I gave birth to my daughter but I look about 15, and for that I feel I was treated very poorly, the birth of my daughter was very scary, none of the doctors or nurses would answer any of my questions, I get teary eyed just writing this They were all very rude. They tried to give me the epidural 17 times after I said I no longer wanted them to try again they said to suck it up that being a mother was hard and if I had to have a c-section they would have to put me to sleep and I would miss the birth of my daugter, he heart rate dropped soon after and they made the choice to fill me back up with water to stop the cord from being pinched,
the nurse but my cathader (sp) in wrong and I begged and begged for them to take it out and put it back in properly they refused and after 6 hours in horrible pain the new nurse finally took it out and put it back in and guess what I felt fine, 48 hours later when I was 10cm I pushed for 4 hours with no luck I begged and begged for a c-section the nurse replied "you got yourself into this mess" I had been married for 2 years and my daughter was very planned so I dident understand all the rudeness it was new to me I had never givin birth and by this time I was terrified, They then came out with the forceps and said we have to get her out, I asked how it worked and if there were any side effects they said we dident have time to discuss it.They then had to try another 4 times to give me the spinal my back was black and blu by this time, but they finally got it in right.
My beautiful daughter had a 3 inch gash in the back of her head due to the forceps, the doctors respones was "well maybe you should have tried harder to push the baby out". My baby spent 6 days in the NICU and I had 33 stiches due to the forceps, I wasent givin any pain meds and was looked down on for not being able to make it every few hours to the NICU to feed the baby, I spent 9 days in the hospital and feel like I was treated like a child. It was very trumatic but still not rape.
lol sorry I went on and on and to Sharron I totally understand that we as mothers have to go through things we dont want to to have our babies........... but we should still be treated as humans.

Sharon - posted on 09/09/2010

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I think there are extremes to everything. There are doctors who will be rude and condescending and possibly assault you using their position as a physician. But most of the stories I read her are just bitches whining about not getting their way. Their stories will change a half dozen times and end with "well I didn't want to go into all the details..." while whinging about their birth rape. SHUT UP. Stop glory hounding. Grow up.

I have probably read ONE real traumatic birth that could be compared to rape and strangely that woman lost her legal case.

Didn't we just pretty much agree a persons' perceptions of what has happened and a different persons' perception of what has happened often and can and does greatly differ from account to account?

My guess is those weak willed, uninformed, uneducated, women talked sunshine & roses and pink cheeked babies until they were as high as kites without ever discussing the nitty gritty shit on yourself, scream for help, see shit through a fog birth story with anyone, much less their doctors.

Rosie - posted on 09/09/2010

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i think likening it to rape is definitely wrong. ask a woman whose been raped and see how she feels about the comparison, wouldn't go over very well i bet.
and about episiotomies, i do think the doctor should tell you what is going on with that one. with my first child she had told me to stop pushing, didn't really explain why, so i didn't stop (i wanted him OUT). she was trying to prep me for an episiotomy, and it didn't happen and i ripped from my pisser to my pooper. i was in pain for months afterward. jagged tears DO NOT heal better than clean straight ones. i got infected, and basically when i had sex for the first time 10 months later it still hurt. if only i had gotten the episiotomy.
i definitely feel that birth trauma can be real, calling it rape is not right at all.

Jessica - posted on 09/09/2010

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The impression I get, and this may or may not be wrong- is that the kinds of birth experiences that this article references are NOT your typical experiences. I can totally see how sometimes, for whatever reason, a woman has a very traumatic experience that goes beyond "normal" protocols in delivery, and could be very akin to rape. That is a strong word to use, but I can see the intent. I've read some pretty sickening birth stories to be honest. I absolutely don't think women should "give up control" of their birth experience just because it has the potential to be risky. Women should always be able to have some amount of autonomy and control of the situation- which includes things like being informed of what is going on throughout the process, of risks, and yes being ASKED before she is checked internally. When you take away those few simple aspects of respect I could see how the situation could quickly turn traumatic.

I don't consider my son's birth traumatic, but my doctor did give me an episiotomy without asking or telling me. I didn't know until after- I guess I didn't feel it because of the epidural. I was too overwhelmed at the time to be pissed, but when I thought about it afterwards I sure was! I had no complications during delivery and had only been pushing for a HALF HOUR. I highly doubt he NEEDED to cut me. But it was over and done with, and now I'm seeing midwives and going to a birth center where they don't do things like that automatically.

Petra - posted on 09/09/2010

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I'm totally harshed out by this... When taken out of context, having things/hands inserted without your expressed consent or understanding sure sounds like rape, but come on. No one would liken a pap smear to a sexual violation (even to a young teen who doesn't know what the eff is going on), and childbirth almost always results in being subjected to foreign objects going up your hoo-ha. Some doctors thought, and some still do, that an episiotomy will assist in getting the job done. They may have to break your water for you and stick those things up there to do so. These are the kind of things you discuss with your doctor in the multitude of appointments leading up to your delivery. I understand there are going to be exceptions with unduly cruel doctors & nurses, but for the most part, these people know what they are doing and though they may not ask you if they can stick something up there, they will tell you that they are going to. You are in an extremely vulnerable position and you might not be in a position to refuse or to even grasp what it is they are saying to you, but to correlate that with rape? Tell that to an actual rape victim and don't be surprised if you really piss her off.

Unless your birth plan works out to your satisfaction, you are likely going to be traumatized. Childbirth was the single most humiliating, painful, undignified, and yes, traumatic, experience of my life, but I left that feeling in the delivery room. To turn around and say that it is a violation of your body is just... I can't even find the word right now. I have friends, family and acquaintances who have brutal horror stories about childbirth but no one has gone anywhere near the words "assault" or "rape". They chalked it up to a really shitty birthing experience and moved on. I can't lend this idea any real credibility - the exceptions need to be treated as such, but childbirth is brutal and invasive and being subjected to hands and other things frequently going up there is pretty much a given. If you're contracting and in pain and they rattle off what is going to happen and you don't catch it and later on you get mad because it happened to conflict with your birth plan, tough. I think we've already got enough labels and categories for people to stick themselves into when they are unhappy and want to blame someone else for it and get special treatment because of it. This whole idea of "birth rape" is going way too far. Unless something really f'd up happened, just move on.

Tara - posted on 09/09/2010

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I disagree with the use of the word rape, I believe it minimizes the actual act of rape as defined by a dictionary. Women who have been raped suffered more than just having fingers or objects inserted into them.
I think using that term is insensitive to those who have been raped or sexually abused. Birth trauma and feeling as though you weren't allowed enough autonomy is one thing and it's a horrible thing, but they ought to name it something else that pertains more to the actual events and less to an event that has such violent and negative connotations.

[deleted account]

About the episiotomy i was told by the doctor they were going to do it and i said NO.Then he looked really mad and pist of and i said OKAY IF I REALLY NEED IT.

Doctor said okay next contraction i will cut..the midwife said in a stern voice "she said no,looks at me and says "you said no".."do you want it"?..i said no actually i really dont want it.



I never needed it,she came out perfectly..just grazed me and one small cut.I was delighted to have that midwife stand up for me..as i would of had to recover from a bigger cut if she had let him on..:-)

Tracey - posted on 09/09/2010

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The dictionary of rape is the unlawful compelling of a woman to have sexual intercourse through physical or mental force. So no, giving birth is in no way rape, assault, GBH in extreme cases but not rape.

Kimberly - posted on 09/09/2010

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I find that using the word 'rape' to describe child birth very troubling and a bit thoughtless for the women who have actually been rape! I had wanted a drugfree birth and ended up having a emergemcy c-section, I had never wanted one or planned for one but when they said my baby wasnt coming out any other way, everything else changed and I just wanted my baby safe. Yes its was scarey and you dont know everything that is going on around you but I would rather be told some things later and have a safe healthy baby then take the time to tell me everything and loss my child. There is always a chance with ever birth that it might not go to plan and it could be stressful/tramua no means is that rape

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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I don't think it was bitchy. I'm just saying they wouldn't suggest or recommend these things unless they thought it would make things easier for women giving birth.

Ez - posted on 09/09/2010

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lol no worries Shannen. Your post didn't seem out of place to me, and I certainly didn't think you were a bitch!
And you're right - COMs is a friggin joke right now.

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Grrrr COM is frustrating atm. When i posted there hadn't been any dialogue between Emma and Erin, even after i had refreshed it, Sorry guys looks like i was just being a bitch but i wasn't.

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Emma, If i had a Dr telling me i needed and episitomy i would have told him where to go. I don't really give a flying rats arse what his credentials are. With my last child i had 2nd degree tearing due to how fast he came out and the pain from that was bad enough i'd hate to have to deal with an episiotomy instead of a tear from what i ahve heard they are 10 times worse pain wise and take twice as long to heal.

Rape is way to harsh of a word to use but there has got to be something to describe it. I feel that my last labour almost falls into this catagory. I in no way feel like it was "rape" But i feel i was over handled and made to do things ididnt really want to do all because Dr and Hospital guide lines say that it is how a woman with GDM needs to be dealt with.
If i ahd it my way and lived where we had Home midwives then i sure as hell would have opt for a home birth where i would have been in control but with guidance of a professional.

Ez - posted on 09/09/2010

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In talking about birth trauma (I won't call it birth rape) I'm certainly not questioning the credentials, or even intentions, of medical staff. I think they do the best with what they've got, and are working within a set of restrictive guidelines dictated by hospital policies and insurance companies.

Sarah - posted on 09/09/2010

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I don't think it should be called rape. It isn't rape. Assault? Maybe, but certainly not rape.

I actually refused an internal while in labour. When I got moved to a different hospital, they were trying to say that I'd been "uncooperative" and had refused it for no reason. I had to tell the staff at the new hospital that the reason I'd refused it was because it had HURT (imagine that in 10 foot letters with flashing neon!) it was like having a red hot poker put inside me. When I refused though.......they respected that.

I personally never felt pressured and I was not forced to do anything (although I had a lot done)

I don't think that women should be forced or pressured into procedures they don't want, but I do think that they should be offered them and be made aware of the risks of having those procedures or not. While I do think that *some* women have a natural instinct for these things, I also think that these doctors and midwives have trained for a LONG time, they do have a pretty good idea of what is going on! :)

Stifler's - posted on 09/09/2010

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It must be really different in the USA I guess. I've heard people say they have to see their OB/GYN all the time and I never saw an obstetrician once during my pregnancy. Or during the birth lol. They do seem to have a lot more medical intervention than here.

Ez - posted on 09/08/2010

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Not in Australia, but routine episiotomies are still done in the US and other places. Again, if this is something that a birthing woman and her doctor have agreed on, good luck to them. But there is no way a woman's vagina should be cut without her permission.

Ez - posted on 09/08/2010

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I actually did have an episiotomy, because I had a forceps-delivery. Obviously I consented to that. But if I was having a normal vaginal delivery and a doctor said they wanted to do the episiotomy I would be asking why.

Ez - posted on 09/08/2010

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Suggesting that an episiotomy is necessary is VERY different to going ahead and doing it without getting the mother's consent. If your doctor advises you that they want to cut, and you agree... great! Informed consent is a wonderful thing. The term birth trauma or birth rape only gets thrown around when a woman's right to choose gets undermined.

Stifler's - posted on 09/08/2010

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I think the only reason you'd be held down and stuff, is in an emergency or high risk situation (making it necessary). I was low risk and no doctors even came in during my labour except to put antibiotics in my hand through an IV. The midwife checked my dilation once and left me to my devices walking around to make it come faster, gave me gas when I asked and told me to get in the shower even though I didn't want to it was better for me that doing whatever I was doing at the time and kept hounding me to drink water. I had the baby in the bathroom sans gas and she put baby oil on my vagina to prevent tearing (without asking if I wanted it) and the baby came out when I stood up. If they'd said I needed an episiotomy I'd have had one.

Jenny - posted on 09/08/2010

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I don't have much patience for birth trauma stories. The most important part is to get the baby out. Everything else is gravy. * I best add a disclaimer here - there are ALWAYS circumstances that do not apply. If you are offended, I didn't mean you.



I had my heart set on medicine free labour too and had prepared myself for 39 weeks to go that route. 6 days before my due date I found out my girl was frank breech and I was getting cut open. I broke down big time when my doctor informed me. But I re-evaluated the situation and moved on.



I have two healthy children and one giant scar. Nothing to complain about in the long term though.

Amie - posted on 09/08/2010

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Are you serious Emma?

I was told twice, with two of my babies that I "had" to have an episiotomy. Both times I told the doctor to get bent. With my first I had one tiny tear which resulted in 3 stitches, the next I had no tears at all.

Doctors do not always know best and it is still the mother's choice.

As for refusing an internal during labor, if the nurses (who were the ones checking me most often) had not asked my permission beforehand they very well could have tried it during a contraction. At one point my contractions were coming so fast I had one during my internal check, it was not pleasant. When asked each time after wards and I felt a contraction coming, you can bet I told them no. They respected my wishes as well.

[deleted account]

Yes, birth trauma is very real. Yes, medical professionals do occasionally overstep their boundaries and act inappropriately. When a woman experiences treatment that causes her birth trauma or feels she has been assaulted in the process of medical treatment/intervention during labour/birth that can be devastating and have long lasting effects for her. I think in that circumstance she is entitled to give whatever name she wishes to the feelings she has. I may not choose to call birth trauma, birth rape; but I have not experienced anything like what these women may have and as such do not feel justified in telling them what title they may or may not assign to their situation.

It is not an issue of relinquishing control, it is an issue of women being informed and involved in their own care and being allowed the right that every human being has to informed consent in their treatment.

Doctors and nurses are bound by codes of ethics and practices as well as laws that require them to ask for consent whenever they need to touch a patient, sometimes that consent is difficult to gain (ie: unconscious patient, non-verbal patient other extenuating circumstances) but it needs to be realistically expected that every patient is informed of what is going to be done and that if verbal consent cannot be gained that consent is implied in such a way as would be understood by any reasonable person or peer of the medical professional. If you and your doctor have reached a point where you are trusting of their practice and they feel they have your implied consent, they may not ASK you for permission every time they touch you, but they will (should) inform you of their intentions so you have the opportunity to refuse if you feel the need.

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