Monday, August 17, 2015

Cookie Cutter Birth Expectations Apparently Cause PTSD

#birthrape is an actual hashtag that women have been using for a while when talking about their birth experiences. #breakthesilence started as a rape hashtag, and now it's evolved to birth. And now there's #birthrapeisreal and other variations. You can find an entire website dedicated to it here. (Facebook page here, #birthrape on twitter)

I was going through a bunch of the images in awe. Not because I was astounded at these women's birth experiences, but astounded that they think they can consider normal birth interventions such a violation to them that it is comparable to rape. There's a common theme of: unnecessary C-sections, unnecessary inductions, and episiotomies. It's unfortunate that these women felt this was so traumatic that many claim to have PTSD. I definitely don't want to discount their feelings, but I think the real problem is what people think the "norm" is for birth as well as not being educated.

But had she ripped instead, that would probably be the doctor's fault as well. 

This can't be postpartum depression can it? PTSD implies trauma.. 

Birth isn't supposed to be rainbows and unicorns. I thought all women knew birth was messy and unpredictable? Yet, there's this huge group of women out there that have the expectation that it should be rainbows and unicorns. The only thing beautiful about birth is that there's a baby coming out of it.

It has become a trend to have a "birth plan" written down. And that birth plan usually includes specific things like cutting the cord exactly three minutes after the baby delivers or getting lavender essential oil rubbed on you every hour. And it has become frowned upon to not have a beautiful "story" to share with everyone after. I've heard many of these birth stories from other moms; the "medication-free, home birth, favorite Enya song playing in the background, feeling the vibrations off the earth" kinda thing. It's becoming more and more about the "beautiful journey" of the delivery, which would be fine if women didn't get so get caught up in that. They're forgetting the most important part; the destination. A healthy baby.

When I see these images I get mad. Don't get me wrong, there are some that I agree are uncalled for, but I also don't know how much truth to them there is. The image above is very similar to my circumstance, and I never once felt I was violated or treated unfairly. It's just part of life. I also get mad because they are complaining about privileges many women of the world do not get. Lots of women in South Africa would give their right arm for a C-section. Both there and southeast Asia there is a high incidence of obstetric fistula that could be prevented with improved maternal care and *ding ding ding* the use of C-sections.

These women in the photos could easily solve their problem. They can have their babies at home. Or they can have their babies out in the middle of the woods with the birds. No one is forcing them to be in a hospital. Which is why it's unbelievable that they can compare this to rape.

Women need to stop with the rigid birth plans and start educating themselves on obstetrics. Because this is how it's going: They get mad if something doesn't go according to their plan. They have to get mad at someone, and that someone is: doctors, nurses, the whole damn hospital. All because they don't have control. If they wanted full control, they can see the paragraph above. Because doctors need to cover their asses too. If doctors listened to every idea their patients had, there'd probably be a lot more maternal or infant deaths. And of course, the doctors would be blamed. They're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Are you sure it wasn't "your baby is not head down like it should be, you might need to get a c-section"?

I do want to say that there are, of course, always going to be someone who ruins it for everyone. There are cases of malpractice out there, unfortunately. And do I think it's ideal that 1 out of every 3 births ends in a Cesarian? No. I do think there could be improvements. And I do think those improvements will come with time. For now, and for the most part, doctors are going to do what they feel is the best possible solution for any given circumstance. Decisions have to be made, often times on the fly, and those decisions are made to avoid serious problems.

Has any of these types of things happened to you during your labor and delivery? How did you feel afterward? Did you feel violated or disappointed or maybe just happy that you delivered a baby successfully? 


  1. Being a C-section baby myself I fully understand the importance of the procedure, I wouldn't be here without it. But having said that I feel the attitude that this is written with is a little jaded, if you really think that these woman are crying rape unnecessarily than I think you need to do some more research on the rising of C-section rates in the last 50 years. MANY of them ARE unnecessary, including lots of my friends that I know about, lets not even get into unnecessary inductions that result in c-sections, and that is a serious issue in our society today. The fact that we trust a man in a white coat more than we do our own bodies, often times those decisions that are made on the fly are centered around the dr "covering his own ass" as you yourself said, and not around what is best for baby long run. You're right, women DO need to educate themselves more. Why would we need time to change something we already know? That I do not understand. To me it starts with more women choosing midwives who statistically have higher rates of natural births, many partner closely with local hospitals and work with them in case of emergency. What we need to change is the mindset that birth is so risky, when in fact stepping into a hospital itself increases your risks of something "going wrong".
    Also I have to add I had a baby head down without a c-section and she was extremely healthy, so just because your baby is head down does NOT always mean you need a c-section, although I would have had one had I been in a hospital.

  2. Unfortunately, I see this post as showing YOUR ignorance on the birth culture here. The over 1/3 c-section rate is not the only unacceptable thing about our current system. It's also the fact that I am TWICE as likely to die in childbirth as my mother was 30 years ago when I was born. It's the fact that the US is one of only THREE countries in the world that has seen an increase in maternal mortality over recent years. It's the fact that doctors are still using interventions such as episiotomy and early induction that have been proven harmful. It's the fact that women do not feel like they have a say in what happens when they birth at a hospital and homebirth and birth centers are not available to all women (or even legal in some states). It's the fact that people like you perpetuate the "all that matters is a healthy baby" mentality which completely negates the other half of the birthing equation: the mother (who in almost ALL cases will also have her baby's interest in mind). It's the fact that we assume doctors are always doing what is BEST when we know most babies in hospitals are born during regular business hours Monday through Friday but those born at home are more likely to arrive during the night/early morning. Research and statistics don't lie: mother's today aren't setting their standards too high or failing at birthing, the system is failing them.

    1. Thank you Melissa you are SO right about all of the above!

    2. We are definitely... Definitely not TWICE as likely to die in labor as they were 30 years ago. Not sure where you gathered that fact but on CDC itself we are at an all time record low for infant deaths nationally.

      And the infant mortality rate we have is statistically taken within the first year of life. This is where many of the anti-vaxxers believe vaxes come into play, but who knows. Either way, this isn't exclusive to birth mortality. Another factor of this statistic is pre-term birth before 22 weeks, which would be normally considered a still birth, but the US includes it along with other births and gets lumped into infant mortality, unlike many other countries who do not.

      Simply; childbirth can go from routine to life threatening very quickly, and doctors always have to keep that in mind.

      There are women out there who would most definitely trade places with the women holding these signs.

      Please, check your privilege.

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  4. Fact: Your OBGYN knows more than you. They are indeed more educated and experienced at giving birth than you are, even if they are a man. If you want to risk your life and the life of your baby by thinking you are in control, think again. You never will be. I thought I was having a normal pregnancy, refused my doctor's recommendation to induce because I stubbornly wanted to give birth naturally. I read a ton of stuff, as new mom's do that made me think that was the right thing to do. 5 days after his initial recommendation, I agreed to be induced. By the grace of God, I gave birth to a healthy full term 4.7 lbs baby boy. Yes, you read that weight correctly. My pregnancy revealed a blood clotting disorder I never knew I had. Women with this disorder have a significantly higher risk of stillbirth. My son had intrauterine growth restriction because my placenta was dying from a clot. My doctor wanted to induce because my measurements were not on target. I thought he was wrong and he was not. In addition, you know what could have killed me? Hormonal birth fact it gave me several mini strokes disguised as panic attacks over my lifetime. Something I am sure most who want control over their bodies use as a means. I got birth control without my parent's permission from a clinic without proper medical oversight because it was my "right". I stayed on it for 10 years until the mystery of my degraded placenta, son born IUGR, and eventually a collapsed lung due to pulmonary embolism from resuming Hormonal birth control after breastfeeding revealed a medical problem. The Leleche leaguers also guilted me into breastfeeding, an endeavor that just wasn't right for me. I can see how some people want a choice. But of I was in the middle of my living room in a blow up swimming pool giving birth and something went wrong, as it did with me, THAT would give my PTSD. Moral of the story: advocate for yourself with your doctor, accept they know when the proper time to intervene is...their worst nightmare is complications for you or your child, trying to manage birth or your reproductive health without qualified medical oversight is dangerous. Goodness gracious.


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