Before I start writing this post out, I want to take a moment to warn my readers about a story that contains graphic birth trauma. This could be a trigger for those of you who have had trauma, or bad experiences. I encourage you to read with caution.
Yesterday afternoon I caught a tweet about Birth Rape from one of the women I follow on twitter. Emily had a c-section a little over a year ago, and as time went on was not happy with her experience. While her blog is mainly about her son who is super cute, she posts some birth stuff, like the birth rape post.
We have all seen some serious doozies when it comes to birth stories on websites like Baby Center, or The Bump, but after reading this one myself, I literally cried for the mother, and wondered to myself, how is this happening in the United States?
The actions of the hospital in this case were illegal, and it often makes me wonder what kind of ego a provider has to have to batter a woman in this nature. The mother, Dawn, had wanted a VBAC, and had changed providers several times during her pregnancy to ensure she would have the most VBAC friendly provider and greatest option of having a Vaginal Birth after a Cesarean section which people take fore-granted in many parts of the country, because for some women, they are simply not that easy to get at all.
When I read the title of the post “VBAC Denied, Horrid Experience” I knew I needed to read this in more than one sitting.
Dawn arrived at the hospital on January 30th, in active labor and dilated to 4cm. Within a short time of her arrival, her water broke on its own, and she was then dilated to 6cm. Beautiful progress for a mother, especially with a previous c-section. Something most VBAC mothers hope for.
She shares in her own words:
Since I was laboring on a birthing ball, the midwife wasn’t confident about the fetal heartrate monitor, it was showing decels, so I was asked to consent to an internal monitor (screws into the baby’s scalp during labor). I refused the first time I was asked, then consented the second time they asked. I consented because I thought my husband was beginning to panic and hoped that it would ease his stress. When I consented to it, I looked at my husband & said “That is medical intervention #1”.
Clearly she was informed about her birth, and really knew and understood what she wanted. She was not blindly going into the hospital, she had done her research and really knew what she wanted, and what would possibly set her back. Something all VBAC mothers should be doing.
But this is where the story took a turn for the worse. Again, this is a warning for mothers before I continue!
After consenting to the monitoring, she continued to share:
Before the monitor was even plugged in, we were told that we were going to be moved to the OR “just in case” while being monitored more closely. The midwife had called an OB to consult & we expected to meet him in the OR.
On the way to the OR, my husband was sent to a dressing area to change into scrubs & I was sent straight into the OR. My husband & I were seperated.
Another warning sign, but sadly many women don’t have any other options. It sounded like the mother was being prep’ed for a c-section but was not being told that. The only time a husband or partner is changed into scrubs tends to be for a c-section.
And then the worse imaginable form of mistrust I have read in a while happened…
As soon as I reached the OR, the staff began prepping me for surgery. I stated that I did NOT want a c-section. I demanded to see my husband and stated that IF I was to receive a c-section my DH & I would make that decision together. I was told that my husband was on his way. I was also told that my baby needed more oxygen & I was told to breathe deeply in a new mask because it had a better seal on my face (the oxygen I was breathing before was thru a smaller mask). The new mask wasn’t oxygen, I was gassed against my will. I am unaware of what was done to me from the time I was gassed up until I awoke in recovery. I am assuming that I only had a c-section. Any further details have not been shared with me.
Not only was she lied to, but she was put under general anesthesia without consent. Alone, with no support from her husband, not knowing what was going on. One minute thinking she was getting some oxygen, and then the next thing she knows she is waking up in the recovery room after major surgery she never consented to!
From a provider none the less that she didn’t know, or even have a name for!
I found out that my son had been born, and that I had been operated on, when I woke up in recovery. No medical professional came to me and spoke to me about my surgery. I have never been told WHY I required a c-section. I only know the name of the delivering physician because it’s on my son’s birth certificate. I never met him. He never came to talk to me before or after surgery. I also never saw the midwife again after I was wheeled into the OR.
I am not sure the details, of course we only know what the mother herself has said. But no matter how you slice this story… it is not acceptable treatment of any patient no matter what they want, including a c-section, VBAC, or what.
We have informed consent, and consent laws in this country for a reason, and this was a gross violation of patient rights on so many levels.
My heart has broken for this mother, and all she will have to go through now in the weeks, and months after the birth of her child, a time that is supposed to be happy, and is now filled with fear, hurt, and regret.
If you or someone you know has experienced some kind of birth trauma or birth rape, please give them the information for Solace for Mothers.
photo: flickr.com/marc van der chijs
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