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Anyone have history of abuse leading to birth trauma?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well I am not going to write my whole story right now but someday I will (DS is already 10mos!) but the bottom line is, the worst part was having the docs try to 'check' me. I couldn't let them do it, and after 18+ hours at the hospital I ended up having to have an (unwanted) epi just so they could check how far along I was. The epi led to more unwanted interventions and in the end the whole birth ended up being so traumatic for me (& for DH & even DS!). Nothing went as I wanted or planned and now as DH & I are TTC #2 we are both soooo nervous about the birth of our not-yet-conceived second child. I just don't know how to make things go better next time around. I have a history of sexual & physical abuse and for some reason the cervical exam is absolute terror for me. When I had the epi was the ONLY time I was ever able to let anyone do a proper exam (and even then it was hard for me) -- I've never had a pap or anything. To tell you the truth, sometimes I'm shocked I was able to even get pregnant with DS...

OK so I'm sorry this is disorganized and all, I guess I just want to know if anyone has ever gone through something similar, or knows of a non-intrusive way for the docs to check how labor is progressing, or has any ideas or can at least relate??? I feel like a total freak & a failure.
post #2 of 8
I am so sorry.

My take on this:
Checking for progress is rarely important. I am furious/saddened/etc. that your care providers placed such an importance on a cervical check as to convince (coerce?) you to have an epidural. The reasonable course of action would have been to let you labor in peace, with no checks necessary unless there was a particular reason to worry.

I don't have a history of abuse, but I made the choice to birth at home because I was in control (as far as any person can be, anyway). I did not wish to spend my precious energy and peace struggling with hospital staff and policies. My midwife did do cervical checks, but I was totally free to refuse, and if I had told her I had abuse issues she would have worked with me on that and assured me that she would not even bring it up unless she had a particular concern.

I am so frustrated that you had such a significant intervention (and following cascade) just to let them check your cervix. What were they thinking?? How important could it be??

I hope my comments were helpful and not making you feel more frustrated. I think the key is finding a HCP that practices evidence-based medicine and places your safety (emotional safety definitely being a huge part of that) at the top, far above convenience, control, etc.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you.

I can't entirely blame them... there were other issues, like I couldn't just go home because they were doing work in our neighborhood & had turned off the water for 2 days (couldn't imagine laboring with no bath/shower!!) and I had severe back labor and hadn't slept in 40 or so hours and I think they were just generally concerned... but when they basically say that they NEED to check me or else I'll need a c-section... I guess that is coercion. Anyway. I really wish I had the courage to birth at home but I just don't think I could do it. My DH would freak and after my DS was born not breathing I would be paranoid that something would happen to the baby the second time around... I guess what I'd really like to do is have a midwife instead of an OB and get discharged ASAP after the birth. But I don't trust the midwives either, I guess I should try to find a good one first and go from there. I am glad at least to hear you say they would have let you refuse the exams! But the other thing I'm worried about is could I do it without the epi, ahhh I am sooo second-guessing myself on everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #4 of 8
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post
But I don't trust the midwives either, I guess I should try to find a good one first and go from there.
That's exactly right, you find the care provider that honors and respects you, and practices evidence-based care.

Hiring "a midwife" is not enough - there are many awful midwives who don't care about their patients and force interventions on them. And of course there are wonderful doctors out there. But honestly, in terms of raw numbers, I'd think a CPM would be your best chance, but again, not just any CPM.

My midwife would have let me go without an exam. Even if she had reason to be concerned, she would have expressed her concern and explained her thought process, but I had the final say. Not all midwives are the same, though, many would have coerced you. Finding the right HCP is everything.

I guess I'd also recommend researching birth in more detail if you decide to have another. If you understood the specific risks and complications, you would feel more comfortable making decisions about them. If you don't know what's going on, someone can say to you "we have to check your cervix or your baby could die" and you would simply be afraid and not have any idea what to do except comply. But if you had more knowledge, you could say, "why, what is your specific concern?" and if they mumble something about "failure to progress" you can wave them off without fear. On the other hand, if they say "your baby's heart rate has been steadily dropping and I'm concerned about cord prolapse" you can make a more informed decision.

You said your labor was back labor? Honey, that is the worst. (Not speaking from experience). If you could do that, you'll be fine without an epi on the next one - but of course that's up to you to decide, and you can make that decision at the time. But once again education also helps, because as you know an epidural carries risks and often leads to other interventions.

Were you laying in bed during your labor or moving around? If in bed, that's considered to be excruciating for most laboring women (a few find it comfortable, at least for some time). Was your labor augmented by pitocin? Also excruciating and not comparable to natural labor.
post #5 of 8
For me, the key was finding a care provider that I trusted. Once I had trust, I could relax enough to let them check me. It's not comfortable and I need my hubs there to hold my hand, but I can do it. We've gotten to a point with my midwives where we can actually toss around some jokes about how tense I get... comments about how awesome I am at Kegels, the faces I make, etc. (by the way...the midwives didn't start any of that, my DH did, and for me the laughter helps).

You need to be able to refuse cervical exams, and have care providers that are understanding and respectful of your choices. I am so sorry you had such a traumatic birth because of this.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
The first day I just went about my business, but by nighttime the contractions were so bad I couldn't sleep, that's when we went to the hospital. The whole night & next morning I walked, showered, used the birth ball, etc. but I was getting so tired I needed to lay down. They gave me some med that made me all loopy (they thought this would help them to check me without giving me an epi but that didn't work) and I slept between contractions and couldn't think straight, that was one BAD med. Then it wore off and the contractions got worse and finally they gave me the epi and checked me & I was at 6cm and they broke my water (without asking/warning me!) and then started pitocin (again, without asking) and I had to stay laying down & a few hours later I was pushing & his heartrate was dropping with each push so they used the vacuum, I tore a ton, I was still out of it, DS was whisked across the room, away from me, but that begins a whole 'nother story... I do think if I don't have back labor with the next I'd be fine as long as they don't check me but if it's back labor again and 40+ hours of labor I don't think I can do it without the epi, that whole thing really destroyed my confidence in my body & my pain tolerance and everything.

I will have to get some MW recs...

Thank you so much for all your thoughts on this, it feels so good just to talk about it & get some feedback
post #7 of 8
That sounds REALLY rough

If it makes you feel ANY better, what you described is basically the apex of pain. And definitely traumatic.
post #8 of 8
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