Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Mother's Birth Rape

Last week I wrote about recognizing birth rape and how it is an accurate way of describing some of the treatment that women experience when birthing babies in hospitals and with professional birth attendants.

This week, I was sickened when I read an account of one of the worst (or best, depending how you look at it) examples of birth rape. Warning: some graphic detail that left me feel utterly repulsed by this doctors actions.

The mom will remain anonymous for her privacy. During the homebirth of her child, she realized that she needed some extra support when she reached the pushing stage of labor. She decided to transfer to the hospital to find that support. Upon transferring, she encountered an agressive OB. Her story continues as follows:
This doctor yells for me to stop pushing and get on the bed. I tell her no, and she yells for the EMT guys who are still in the hallway to help get me on the bed. I give in rather than be manhandled. Another contraction hits and I push, and of course, baby’s crowning. She (doc) yells at me to stop, grabs that nasty betadine stuff and starts scrubbing me, then literally throws a cup of mineral oil over my crotch. My husband and kids walk in then, just as L’s head pops out. One more good push, and there’s her body. I start to say, “give her to me,” doc yells, “THICK MEC,” and cuts the cord before I can even finish saying it. They had her off, and I demand for her not to be suctioned. Believe it or not, they listened. However, at this point, doc grabs the cord and starts yanking, and says that the placenta is having a hard time detaching, and I need to push. I give a tiny test push, and know it’s not coming, so I tell her NO! STOP PULLING! STOP! STOP! STOP! I’m screaming by this point, because she’s pulling with all of her might. I grab my belly where I can still feel it attached and beg her to stop, telling her it’s attached, STOP STOP STOP! My husband is saying the same thing…then it comes out. She tries to pull it away, but I scream at her again. She then says “Your placenta looks odd. You may have had a collapsed fibroid come out with it.” At this point, I’m getting tunnel vision, and a ringing in my ears, and say that I’m gonna pass out. You guessed it, this bitch has pulled out my entire uterus.
Aside from gross medical negligence, this is the essence of birth rape--a woman who is not consenting, in fact yelling NO, STOP, exactly like a rape victim, when a doctor continues to perform an procedure or action that is inflicting more pain, above and beyond the pain experience during a nonmedicated birth.

The mother almost died from losing over 3 liters of blood, and was lucky that the doctors who performed emergency surgery were able to reinsert the mother's uterus. Hopefully, she will be able to have another child and she will heal physically.

Knowing my own experience of PTSD after chilbirth, I would be very surprised if this mother does not experience extreme PTSD symptoms and will face an emotional recovery very similar to that of a rape victim. I pray that she is able to emotionally cope with her experience and gets the support and love from people that she needs.

A sickening this about this story, is that this is an extreme example, but similar things--performing procedures without the consent, in fact inspite of their refusal-- are being done to women EVERYDAY by doctors and midwives, who then turn around and act like they saved the mother's life (paraphrased from mother's birth story).

The mother states that she intends to not let the OB get away with that treatment and intends to pursue legal action and file formal complaints against the OB.

Updates report that, "It turns out there were two things that occurred simultaneously when the doc put traction on the cord. 1) the uterus was inverted, which was not in itself life-threatening, 2) the placenta was yanked out, which caused significant bleeding. They took her to OR because the doctor who pulled the uterus out high-tailed it out of the room, and they took her to OR for general anesthesia. She was not, however, cut open (thank God). They just pushed her uterus back in there. She later received two units of blood to cover what was lost in the placenta removal. She's in some pain, but is moving around well, and there doesn't seem to be any major future implications re her uterus."


Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't believe how similar her story is to mine. I felt so alone, but I really beleived that my situation was a one-time deal. I didn't believe that this was happening to women all over the country.

What makes the doctors believe that it's their right to do whatever they want? Why don't they understand that it's the mother's hooha, and nothing should go in it or out of it without her permission. Birth, or not. Epidural, or not. Hospital, or not. A woman is entitled to body integrity. It's wrong. Legally and morally wrong for them to behave in such a reprehensible manner.

Jenne said...


I'm sorry to have taken so long to respond. I can offer a new resource for moms who have experienced birth rape/a traumatic birth.

You are welcome to post there and share your experience, gain and give support and understanding.