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Have you heard the term 'obstetric violence'?

by lizzi (follow)
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Have you heard the term "Obstetric violence"? What questions and images does this term conjure up for you?

#Childbirth
#Obstetric violence
#Birth
#Medical
#Violence
#Feminist
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Yes, I've not only heard it, I've lived it. It's the reason I've become a birth activist and writer. No woman or baby should ever experience this insidious violence, and we need to raise awareness about it because it happens all the time. Often women are so traumatised they're unable to speak about it, and if they reach out they are silenced and told to be grateful for their healthy baby. But healthy babies need healthy mothers. Mothers and babies are an inseparable dyad, and we can not expect traumatised mothers to care for babies without support.
Here are some examples.

There are over a hundred more stories like these sitting in my inbox. I am working up the courage to start writing a book with them.

Examples of obstetric violence
by meggf
meggf, good on you. It's people like you that make a difference. :)
by Vee
Never ever heard of it!

I can not think what it is or means?

I'll Google it.
I would like to Thank You! for this most important question.

I have read on it, and now see I have been a victim of this most dreadful practice.With all three of my sons.
And two babies I lost also.

It has answered a great many questions for me, and 'why' I felt as I did.
I just can not believe this.....I took it as the 'norm', but deep inside me I was suffering.
It makes me very upset as a Mother and Woman!
It happened to me starting 37 years ago and 22 years ago.

This has been a profound reflection for me.
by jonaja
I think that obstetric violence is so common that many women do simply believe it is "the norm". It's sad that we've been taught that it's normal to be treated so poorly by people who are supposed to be caring for us. I'm sorry that you have experienced obstetric violence, but please know that you are not alone. x
by lizzi
I hadn't heard of it before but now I have, I realise that I and most of the women I know have been a victim of it in one way or another. From your Obstetrician trying to make you have an unnecessary c-sec to your mother-in-law nagging at you to have more ultrasound scans that you need, to your neighbours telling you that they will call the police if you have a homebirth, everyone thinks that they have more right to tell you what to do when you're pregnant or a new mother than you have. Any form of coercion like this, mental or physical, is a form of violence, but it's so prevalent that a lot of people will not even notice it happening never mind realise that it is a form of abuse. And something that you are entitled to demand a stop to.
For me the term obstetric violence conjures up so many images and feelings from my 2 pregnancies and births. Feelings of incompetence and not being able to make decisions for myself and my baby, fear of what will "be done" to me in hospital, being told (with absolutely no evidence!) that the baby and I will die if we leave the hospital, being told that I must want a vaginal birth more than a live baby (again, no evidence to suggest bub was in any danger), being told as I signed the consent form for my second caesarean "No more trying for vaginal births for you, some women just aren't designed to birth their babies" and finally being told that "We accidentally tore your uterus vertically. But I fixed your external scar so it will look better now". My experience of obstetric violence is not as "violent" as many, but no less damaging.
Thanks lizzie :) x
by jonaja
oops sorry finger did the 'e'...bad finger lol
by jonaja
LOL that's okay - my name is supposed to have an e on the end - I'm not sure why it didn't happen in my profile. x
by lizzi
No, it sounds terrible! Don't really like to contemplate what it means - too horrible!
What?!! Never. I can barely pronounce it without getting my tongue twisted.
Yes, I've not only heard it, I've lived it. It's the reason I've become a birth activist and writer. No woman or baby should ever experience this insidious violence, and we need to raise awareness about it because it happens all the time. Often women are so traumatised they're unable to speak about it, and if they reach out they are silenced and told to be grateful for their healthy baby. But healthy babies need healthy mothers. Mothers and babies are an inseparable dyad, and we can not expect traumatised mothers to care for babies without support.
Far out. I hadn't heard this term before, but I could imagine what it could mean - women being disrespected during pregnancy and/or labour by health professionals, labouring women being forced into making choices they would otherwise not make, intimidating a pregnant or labouring woman. I skimmed meggf's article and was horrified. Important question. Thanks for asking it lizzi.
by Vee
Don't think I have ever heard the actual term before. But always realised the disrespect that women are afforded during pregnancy and birth. Saddest part of it all is that the disrespect etc. is usually done by females to other females.
Queer isn't it ?
by fran.
Totally. I don't understand it.
by Vee
I would love to name and shame the first hospital that I gave birth in, but fear that I may be sued for defamation. It's such a horrible experience because these so called experts, who don't always show a great deal of care, can bully a woman into having a birth she doesn't want using fear and guilt. From the research I read when I looked into it, hospitals and obstetricians stand to make a lot more money out of a Cesarian birth than a natural birth. There are theater fees and all sorts of drugs that wouldn't be needed for a natural birth. Also, she stays longer in hospital as the recovery time is greater. If you have private health insurance, watch out because you're a bigger target. Sadly, people don't always look into this kind of thing until after a bad experience, and having one Cesarian can make it more difficult to get a doctor to agree to a VBAC, setting them up for further cesarians down the track.
I also learnt about this unfortunate concept birthing my first child - with the second, we avoided the hospital all together and were much happier for it.
by Lucy
To me this conjures up the all too common stories I hear, of women who are robbed of their dignity. Women who are coerced and forced to birth according to someone else's agenda, who are treated with disrespect and dishonesty.


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