On the subject of traumatized women…my two cents
When I was 22 and pregnant for the first time, I had an innate fear, more like terror really of going to hospital for the birth. I don’t know what drove me to so actively avoid a hospital birth but I just knew that it would be an experience that triggered feelings of being assaulted and overpowered. It was my during my booking visit when the male doctor lifted my dress and casually remarked “I’m just going to feel your breasts now” that I realized how disempowered all women are in this process-one which belongs to them ironically enough! I saw the midwife cringing in the corner, feeling acutely aware of his insensitivities but speechless and feeling powerless to act in my defense. He (the doctor) just seemed to have no idea that you actually need to get permission from a person before you cross into their private spaces, and that something of a respectful rapport is useful (he had spent the previous 10 minutes chastising me for my fear of needles and sternly telling me that I “had no choice” about having blood tests for this and that reason. But back to the carefree hands bit…I sat bolt upright and said “no your not” I decided then and there that I didn’t not want any interference because it was inherently disempowering and the doctors attitude patronizing. I knew I needed encouragement, nurturing, information and most of all, for the experience to transform me I needed a healing birth experience. Any woman who has experienced sexual trauma (and let’s face it…that’s a lot of us!) will always need gentle handling. The tiny snippet of hospital based care I saw was definitely not that!
Now when I listen to “mainstream birthing” women talk about birth, I hear the language of submission. “My ob decided such and such” or “they told me I had to…..” or “they made me birth on my back”. It is always something “being done” to her; she rarely describes herself as the active participant. It actually makes me feel sick to hear it. By and large women just aren’t making their own choices and most of the time I suspect they are not supported by partners, doctors or even midwives when they do. When are we all going to realize that the choices made on our behalf, about our bodies and our babies are sometimes made by someone with conflicting interests, a different agenda and really bad, archaic research to back it up? My experience of hospitals (and I work in one as a nurse, not midwife…yet) is that often we nurses still don’t have the confidence to challenge the old medical dinosaur. Women need good information and solid back-up from their midwives (I know that I am preaching to the converted here). And midwives need to do that boldly, shamelessly and confidently, or we give women the idea that it is “naughty” to have a different view, or to challenge the status quo. Had the midwife I spoke of earlier had the guts to say pull the doctor up on his insensitivity at the time (do they hesitate to tell us when they think we have erred?) I may have had more confidence in the system. But as it turned out my choice was a good one and the older I get the more convinced I become that the machine we call “maternity care” is not “care” at all. We might as well call them “baby factory units” because the reality is; they are more like factories than places where women are cared for holistically.
The changes that we are seeking here have boundaries that stretch far beyond the walls of any maternity unit. We women still face sexism in a multitude of ways that we either try to ignore or pretend don’t exist. However this has to be one of the crucial battlefields for women in the recovery of their autonomy and freedom. It will take a long time…but I am prepared to see it through. And in the mean time I recommend independent midwives and homebirth to any one inspired by my beautiful, healing homebirth. Some times I hesitate to tell my story because it must appear blissfully utopian in contrast to some women’s experiences. But maybe those traumatized women want to hear that such a birth is possible, so I tell it as plainly and gently as I can-always hopeful that they might have the confidence in themselves, their bodies and their babies to birth without interference next time.
[EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
On Behalf Of Janet Fraser
Jo, you're speaking from my heart as well. I was at a meeting last year of women working to support others in birth trauma. All of us had been suicidal at one point, myself included, none of us had had any support from careproviders.
I'm always happy to share my journey but it rarely scores a comment on ozmid. What this means I cannot judge but it makes me fear for other women in my position if we can't talk about it with careproviders. It's not about blame, it's about responsibility for our actions as consumers and a hope that our careproviders will also take responsibility for their actions. We really need everyone to be be truly "with woman" on this one, not with protocol and not with status quo.
- [ozmidwifery] Post cs support Dean & Jo
- RE: [ozmidwifery] Post cs support Dean & Jo
- Re: [ozmidwifery] Post cs support Janet Fraser
- RE: [ozmidwifery] Post cs support adamnamy
- Re: [ozmidwifery] Post cs support Andrea Quanchi
- RE: [ozmidwifery] Post cs support Mary Murphy