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#1 of 23 Old 11-30-2008, 11:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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At the beginning of my pregnancy I knew next to nothing about pregnancy and birth. I instinctively knew that it was natural and normal and that I didn't want any interference, but I had no idea of how to go about that, or how difficult it is in this day and age.
At about 10 weeks into my pregnancy I scheduled an appointment with an OB - I knew I was 'supposed' to go to see a doctor, though I didn't see any need I gave into external pressure, from DH and others. It was an awful experience. I was expecting to be able to 'interview' her - sit down and chat about things, like which hospital she worked at and what to expect over the next 6-7 months. Instead I was ushered into a cubicle by a nurse who spoke no English and who told me by sign that I was to take my pants off there. So I had to meet this OB naked from the waist down - no chatting here. She brusquely motioned me up onto the table, proceeded to do a very rough internal, then without saying a word gave me a PAP smear and did a transvaginal ultrasound. I was in utter shock. It was my first time 'seeing' my little baby, but under such horrible circumstances. And to make it worse one of the few things I knew, that I had just read in my new pregnancy book, was that PAP smears are not recommended for pregnant women - the results are rarely accurate and there is a 1 in 100 chance of causing a miscarriage of an otherwise healthy fetus. This UAV had just decided to take that risk without even informing me of it. (It still makes me sick to my stomach to think I could so easily have lost my wonderful daughter - I'm shaking as I type this).
Well, I left her office in tears, shaking and feeling totally violated and knowing that this was wrong. I had a vague idea that doctors were not supposed to do things without informing their patients of the risks first. So started my quest for knowledge. I hit upon the term of informed consent and when I combined that in google searches with 'childbirth' I opened a huge can of worms. I became absolutely determined that I would never be treated with such lack of respect by another doctor - that I would learn all that I could and do everything within my power to make my pregnancy and birth safe, gentle and respectful for me and my baby.
I transferred to another OB, as I still hadn't hit on the idea of homebirth. This OB didn't do any internal exams until the 36th week, though she did insist on doing an ultra sound every visit. Not ideal but better. I started asking her questions about natural birth and my birth plans, and very quickly realised that she had no respect for me either. She would fill me with utter lies - some of the best being "Epidurals have no side effects and always speed up labour". "You have red hair - if you don't have drugs you'll bleed to death". I continued seeing her as I was required by work and for maternity leave to have medical records.
I continued to research and research and by now was a veritable walking encyclopedia of knowledge about birth and particularly about all the useless or damaging things done routinely by doctors and nurses during the birthing process. It infuriated and scared me at the same time.
Then I came on the possibility of homebirth. I had been told by lots of people that it was illegal here, which I had a hard time believing, but it was very difficult to find information. Finally I found a midwife group in Prague and contacted them. They agreed to take me on. I continued to see the OB as I had already paid her in advance for all prenatal care, and figured it was as well just in case. I liked the main midwife - she seemed like a nice motherly type of woman and supportive of natural birth. I didn't interview her as thoroughly as I probably should have, looking back on it, but there seemed little point. These were the only midwives I'd been able to find who attended homebirths, so even if I wasn't totally happy with them I had very few choices. Something that should have raised red flags for me was any time I asked about hospital transfer, she would just brush it off. "I only transfer in a real emergency" " You don't need to worry about that" and so on, so I never got a clear answer from her as to which hospital we would transfer to if needed or under what circumstances. The one thing she was clear about was that if we did need to transfer she would come with me and act as a doula.
So I relaxed and put my trust in my body, and in her.
We had some difficulty - first I had a run-in with my OB. I told her flat out that I was planning a homebirth. She lost the plot - told me it was illegal, that she should call the police, that I and my baby would die and it would serve me right. And, of course, that she would no longer see me (despite the fact that I had paid a lot of money for complete prenatal care). This happened at 36 weeks. Then I went over. The midwives started doing NSTs every other day, which was starting to stress me out.. I was also really worried about going over 42 weeks, as I know in most countries midwives can't attend homebirths after that. But I guess as homebirth is so uncommon here there just aren't laws to cover it and so my midwife agreed to keep attending me as long as baby was healthy. At 43 weeks she had me come for a NST very early in the morning. Baby's heartrate was lower than usual - I wasn't worried as she was always very quiet in the mornings, but very active overall. But the midwife panicked me and insisted that I go straight to a hospital for an ultrasound. (I should just mention that midwives have no privileges at hospitals here and no backup OBs or doctors to work with - homebirth is really frowned on here way more than in the US even). So I get in a taxi and go straight to a hospital where I am unmercifully bullied for planning a homebirth and for being 43 weeks. They couldn't find anything wrong on the ultrasound but kept me there for hours without food or drink, bullying me, refusing to let me go until I'd signed some sort of waiver saying that I was killing my baby by refusing to be induced straight away. I started quoting stats from Henci Goer's "Obstetric Myths vs. Research Realities" and they looked at me like I had two heads. I finally got out of there at 5 pm after having gotten there at 9.30 am that morning, and I promptly went into labour.
The rest I've written about already.
Suffice it to say that my midwife was totally unsupportive - never did anything to help me, like offer water, made nasty comments, never noticed that my baby was posterior, bullied me into transferring despite my better judgement, drove me to the hospital and then abandoned me to be tortured and raped for having attempted a homebirth.
I have done huge amounts of research since and know 1) that what they did was utterly wrong as they never obtained informed consent, even if it had been necessary 2) even if it was necessary they went against all normal protocols 3) what was done to me was almost certainly totally unnecessary.
At the time that it was being done to me I already knew 1) and 2). Learning about 3) since has just made me even more angry.
I know too much. If I had just gone along with what I was supposed to I wouldn't be traumatised. I wouldn't know how things are supposed to be and how unnecessary and wrong what was done to me was. I would be just one more of those women who think "My doctor saved me and my baby. We would have died if it wasn't for him/her".
But I know better. I know that almost certainly I would have been able to birth my baby safely by myself. I know that even had some interventions been necessary (as they are, very occasionally) those interventions should have been clearly explained to me and I should have had the option of consenting or not, even if they thought I was totally wrong. I know that everything they did to my poor baby was totally unnecessary, harmful and against all evidence.
I know too much and it makes me angry and sick inside.
And I wonder how I can possibly make another birth better. Other women who have traumatic births went into them without a lot of knowledge about birth and the politics of birth in hospital. They can say "Well, now I know better. I can do better." (Not that I believe that any woman should have to know all about these things to have a good birth experience - we should just be able to trust our 'care' providers, but that's a whole other rant) But I can't kid myself that if I know better I'll do better. I knew a whole lot and it was an awful experience.

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#2 of 23 Old 12-05-2008, 12:15 PM
 
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I'm sorry those things happened to you. I was prepared for these fights with a birth plan, an educated husband whose most important role if they called for a c section was to say "You better double incision and not single to save time!" to the doctor. I cannot imagine how this detracted from your labor experience and how hard it must have been.

I do listen to moms who know less than us, and they have a similar birth as yours...but they just go with whatever they are being told and don't feel robbed of a great birth experience...as they think it was a great birth experience. I do think our knowledge can detract from our enjoyment if we are not in what we see at the best birth situation - at home with or without a midwife. This is not to discount other births that do happen in a hopsital or a c section, just to say that for this birth, we had chosen what was best FOR US.

Mommy to 6 year old dd and almost 2 year old ds, working to become happy every day and healthy along the way!
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#3 of 23 Old 12-05-2008, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lisabeeprague View Post
At the beginning of my pregnancy I knew next to nothing about pregnancy and birth. I instinctively knew that it was natural and normal and that I didn't want any interference, (snip)She brusquely motioned me up onto the table, proceeded to do a very rough internal, then without saying a word gave me a PAP smear and did a transvaginal ultrasound. I was in utter shock. It was my first time 'seeing' my little baby, but under such horrible circumstances.

I have done huge amounts of research since and know 1) that what they did was utterly wrong as they never obtained informed consent, even if it had been necessary 2) even if it was necessary they went against all normal protocols 3) what was done to me was almost certainly totally unnecessary.
At the time that it was being done to me I already knew 1) and 2). Learning about 3) since has just made me even more angry.
I know too much. If I had just gone along with what I was supposed to I wouldn't be traumatised. I wouldn't know how things are supposed to be and how unnecessary and wrong what was done to me was. I would be just one more of those women who think "My doctor saved me and my baby. We would have died if it wasn't for him/her".
But I know better. I know that almost certainly I would have been able to birth my baby safely by myself. I know that even had some interventions been necessary (as they are, very occasionally) those interventions should have been clearly explained to me and I should have had the option of consenting or not, even if they thought I was totally wrong. I know that everything they did to my poor baby was totally unnecessary, harmful and against all evidence.
You describe what they did to you at the hospital as rape. You said you were traumatised by the first visit with the original OB. I think women who say oh my dr. saved my baby to some degree do not allow themselves to acknowledge their emotional pain and their fears. Just because they think what the drs. did was okay, does not make the treatment okay.

A little girl who is sexually abused may not know it is wrong, but may still deal with feeling guilty, psychosomatic symptoms, may even rationalize the abuse is her fault, BUT, she stills suffers whether she understands or not. And when she knows too much, then she is in a place where she can look for counseling, for healing, etc. Denial does not allow a person to heal. It refuses that there is a need for healing.

I think there is the idea in the natural birth community, and I hadn't identified it until now, but that by knowing too much/wanting a homebirth, women 'ask for it' when they go to hospitals. It's similar to the idea of a girl 'asking for it' when she is raped.

It is wrong to blame the victim and allow care providers to go on abusing.

Does that make sense? Don't blame yourself, your knowledge and learning. They mistreated you. That s their rationalization for getting away with such mistreatment of women who know better.

Be kind to yourself. It is impossible to ask all the questions for everything that could possibly ever come up.

Mama to 2 year old and :: June 14th!
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#4 of 23 Old 12-05-2008, 10:24 PM
 
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I've been trying to figure out how to say what I'm about to say without it sounding like I am blaming you. (both the specific YOU,and the general "you" referring to people in similar situations as yours). I'm not. I'm really not, but I'm afraid that it comes out that way, and I can't figure out how else to say it. So I'm just going to say that I'm just being completely honest here, and strsightforward, and I'm not blaming, just saying what I have found to be true in my experience. If it offends you, please just let me knwo and i'll delete it right away. I really don't mean it to be offensive...but well..okay...here it is.

I ABSOLUTELY agree with what you have said. 100% completely. In fact...I've STOPPED trying to "educate" and "empower" my pregnant clients because of it. What I have found is this...there just isn't enought time, and/or they just don't have enough support, or it is just TOO hard for them to step out of everything they know/believe/have been told their entire life, all of their preconceptions of pregnancy and birth, and the experiences all of their family, friends have had. They just can't quite do it. And because they have been exposed to the idea that is *could* have been different..that it *should* have been different...they feel so much worse than if they had just stayed in their "ignorance is bliss" state.
What happens is this,....I go in there, get them thinking that they have ..choices...and rights...and deserve to be treated with respect. I have them do birth plans, mental/emotional/art exercises for their births, etc. Teach them about evidence based choices, and equal dr-patient relationships.
And for the most part..they are..^interested^ in what I have to say...some even very interested...it opens them up to the thougfht that maybe birth can be a great thing, not just an experience to be gotten through in order to get their baby..not something to be feared, but embraced. They start to think maybe they can choose things like not having their baby taken from them, or to not have an episiotomy...that they might not have to have a Csection or be induced.....
but then..when it comes down to it..they simply weren't empowered ENOUGH..they weren't strong enough to actually stand up and say NO to their Ob's when they want to induce at 38 weeks because "baby is gettig big" or whatever....they weren't empowered enough, confident enough, strong enough to trust themselves and their newfound knowledge over the "authority" of their OB who tells them their elevated BP, 37 week "macrosomic" U/S measurement, + GBS swab, "small pelvis", "slow progressing labor", etc, etc, etc and so they fall victim to the system DESPITE knwoing/having been told it maybe didn't have to be that way.....
And so,....after it all goes to hell and they end up with the same medicalized birth they would have had with or without the educationm they got fom me..they are MORE upset...they feel more like failures, or guilty....

thats not to say that someone who didn't knwo anything beforehand wouldn't feel violated or "odd" or "guilty" or whatever after a bad birth..it's just that after their eyes have been opened a bit, it is so much EASIEr to see how it all went to hell, where the lies and coercion came from, how it SHOULD have been handled, how BADLY they really were treated, etc.

I can't do it anymore. I can't help educate women and open their eyes a bit, but not quite enough, and then watch them be slaughtered, and be AWARE of it. That knowledge and awareness just causes more pain to a lot of women, i think.

I knwo it can be argues than every bit of awarenes and education helps, and maybe it is just part of a joirney, and m,aybe fortheir next birth they will then be able to make better choices, etc...but...it's just too hard.
it's also hard, of course, when women learn after the fact..like many women on here, who maybe never quesitoned the system until AFTER their bad birth, and then get really upset and feel betrayed after the fact....but honestly, I don't think it's quite AS bad..because at least then you have the whole "when you know better, you do better" thing to fall back on....but if you don't have even that much to hold onto..I think it is even harder....when you knew better...but it happened anyway, and well, frankly, you ALLOWED it to happen anyway. And usually there is just so much shock and confusion and anger and fear and doubt...that well..the termed "railroaded" comes to mind...it's just like getting run over by a train, and before you know it, you are standing on the other side of a bad experience.

I hope this makes sense to you OP, and you get that i am trying to share and explain and not blame or accuse.....because women shouldn't have to stand up for themselves so strongly just to be treated with respect and compassion, we shoudn't have to FIGHT just to not be violated or cut unecesarily, we shouldn't have to knwo before hand that we might be lied to, coerced, bullied and harassed and have to steel ourselves to stand up to that kind of teratment......but yes, I think I know exactly what you are talking about. While i might hate it, I really think "ignorance is bliss" can be very very true.

CPST
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#5 of 23 Old 12-06-2008, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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bobandjess99 - I'm not offended by what you said and I can only imagine how demoralising it must be to feel that your education of pregnant women is only contributing to their disappointment with their birth experience. However, for every woman who is disappointed because of what she knows that she didn't before there must be many more who have had a better birth experience because they knew better. Don't give up wholesale!

However, I WAS strong enough. I stood up to so much misinformation, scare-mongering and out and out threats from doctors you wouldn't believe. I believed in myself and my body and my ability to make the best decisions for me and my baby. Against all the odds I did everything within my power to have a safe and happy birth. I changed care providers 3 times during my pregnancy. I found a homebirth midwife in a country that's vehemently anti-homebirth and in which I don't speak the language. I repeatedly refused induction in the last weeks, researched everything I needed to and made my own decisions about everything, convinced my DH to support me in my decision to HB (and that wasn't easy!), looked after myself mentally and physically during pregnancy, kept active, practised self-hypnosis for labour... The list goes on.

What I 'did wrong' was not plan for things that I couldn't possibly plan for. I couldn't possibly have known that the midwife who had been so supportive during my pregnancy would turn up to my labour exhausted and cranky from another birth, that she would have NOTHING useful to contribute to help me with a malpositioned baby (I mean, what are midwives for?!), that she would abandon me at the hospital despite having promised to act as a doula in the event of a transfer. I couldn't possibly have known that my DH, who is normally very assertive, aggressive even, when people get pushy, would totally wilt in the presence of medicos and not even attempt to stand up for me. I couldn't possibly have known that my labour would be back labour and that it would manifest itself as what felt to me like one huge continuous contraction that I never got a break from, for hours and hours on end, or that the self-hypnosis I had practised to help me relax and give in to labour would also make me easier for the midwife to bully into transferring as I had convinced myself that I needed to surrender to what was happening (which should have been just labour, but unfortunately ended up being so much more than that).

And though I knew I was likely to be mistreated in the hospital I didn't actually have the opportunity to 'allow' anything to happen. 'Allowing' something to happen means that you had the possibility of preventing it. Not a single person in the hospital said a word to me about what they intended to do. I was asked to lie down on a delivery table for a VE (which I was willing to consent to as I knew there was some kind of positioning problem and was hoping that they could pinpoint it allowing me to figure out a more productive labouring strategy/position). As I was lying on my back, unable to see what was happening, instead of a VE the doctor gave me a huge epsiotomy, manually dilated my cervix and used high forceps to drag my baby out of me. As soon as he cut me, of course, I knew that something was horribly wrong with what was being done to me, but at that point I was in so much pain that I couldn't even scream. Until you've had all of these procedures done without so much as a paracetamol for pain relief there's no imagining it. And there was no way I could 'stop' them from doing what they were doing. It was the most I could do to stop myself from passing out. It was without doubt the worst experience of my life.

You're right - part of what's still traumatising me is that I can't fall back on 'When you know better you do better.' I knew as much as anyone could reasonably be expected to know, and some more besides. And still I had an awful experience. I can't pretend to myself that next time it'll be better because I know better. The only thing I know now that I didn't know then is that I can't depend on my DH to stand up for me even though he's promised to. I guess I've also learned that even midwives aren't necessarily supportive of natural birth. Oh, and that I can withstand more pain than I had ever thought possible. But I don't see how I can use that information to get me a better birth if I ever have another one.

And you're also right - we shouldn't have to know everything about birth. A certain amount of basic knowledge is a good idea, but a woman shouldn't need to know the specifics of fetal heart rate tones, the exact measurements needed to make a diagnosis of oligohydramniosis, etc. in order to ensure that she's not conned into unnecessary procedures by her HCP. We shouldn't have to argue and fight constantly over every little thing that we want or don't want, particularly during labour when the hormones released make even the most hard-headed of women far more compliant and easily-manipulated than they would ever be normally. It really should be as simple as ; they (the HCPs) should respect us and ensure that they really follow the procedure for informed consent in situations where they feel they need to deviate from what we have requested. Ultimately the power and control should be with the birthing woman, no one else, but she shouldn't need a medical degree to get that.

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#6 of 23 Old 12-08-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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Lisa--

You were not traumatized by knowing too much. You were traumatized by being violated by your care providers.

You were violated by your care providers--emotionally, mentally, physically violated by those who were supposed to serve you. And that has nothing to do with how much you were or were not educated about birth....that is ONLY about misogyny, an utter lack of respect for the sacredness of birth, a lack of understanding of the design of birth, and the belief that it is right and good for medical ppl to dominate/control their patients. Your violation has NOTHING to do with how well informed you were.

No, don't blame yourself, not one little bit!

bobandjesse--one on hand I certainly get where you're coming from. But I do disagree with your conclusion. The truth as you have spoken it is quite painful....it is horrifying....it is so WRONG that women and babies are treated as they are most often in hospitals....but it is always better to know the truth I think. Yes, life IS a journey, empowerment and freedom IS a process. And for women who live in a misogynist culture, that journey does not really begin until women do see that painful, horrifying truth as it is enacted upon their bodies and babies' lives. JMO of course.
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#7 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Maggirayne View Post
I think there is the idea in the natural birth community, and I hadn't identified it until now, but that by knowing too much/wanting a homebirth, women 'ask for it' when they go to hospitals. It's similar to the idea of a girl 'asking for it' when she is raped.
Interesting point. I've always gotten more of a vibe that "knowledge is power" kind of a thing, and the natural birth community feels that if you simply "educate" yourself then you are protected from birth trauma. Perhaps this is an extension of that belief, kind of like, "well, you knew better then to go there..."
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#8 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
...but it happened anyway, and well, frankly, you ALLOWED it to happen anyway.
You know, I was totally on board with your post until I read this. The word "allowed" has no business showing up alongside the word "rape". If birthrape is too strong a term for you, then think 'violated', 'assaulted', 'abused'. I didn't "allow" the forced VA's and the episiotomy because they were forced on me. There was no choice, there was no discussion, there was no permission granted, there was no opportunity to give permission. I can see how your clients 'allow' inductions, but extending that to the type of behavior that occurred at the OP's birth is just not accurate.
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#9 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 05:36 PM
 
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Lisa--

You were not traumatized by knowing too much. You were traumatized by being violated by your care providers.

You were violated by your care providers--emotionally, mentally, physically violated by those who were supposed to serve you. And that has nothing to do with how much you were or were not educated about birth....that is ONLY about misogyny, an utter lack of respect for the sacredness of birth, a lack of understanding of the design of birth, and the belief that it is right and good for medical ppl to dominate/control their patients. Your violation has NOTHING to do with how well informed you were.

No, don't blame yourself, not one little bit!
I completely disagree. A study really needs to be done on this, because I'm just going to give you a bunch of anecdotal evidence right now, but I'm afraid you are wrong, as painful as it is to hear.

Lots of women are mistreated and abused during birth, but they don't all experience that mistreatment as traumatic. That is what the OP is talking about. She is asking about her knowledge about birth contributing to her trauma. In my opinion it absolutely does.

Who are the women who have birth trauma? Who are the women who post here and in other places about experiencing birth trauma? Even on mainstream boards whenever birth trauma is discussed the threads have titles that say things like "another natural birth attempt gone wrong". The women who are walking away traumatized are more often then not the women who walked in "educated".

Expectations have so much to do with it. If you immerse yourself in natural birth literature and classes and you hear of all the "options" you have, and words like "empowerment" and "control" are thrown around, then you have an expectation that these things are within your grasp. When you go to give birth and the opposite is true, you are actually disempowered, your control is taken away, and you have no options, then you are more likely to walk out of that experience feeling shell shocked. Your going to wonder what you did wrong, and why you didn't get the beautiful empowering birth experience that you read about. If you walk in thinking your just going to give yourself up to the process, in most cases it wont be that traumatizing when you lose control and power, because you never thought you would have it in the first place.

I'm not saying that women who are not "educated" will not experience trauma, that of course is not true. I'm not saying that women who are "educated" will experience trauma, because of course someone is having these empowering birth experiences that we read about. I'm just saying that if you go in thinking you will have power and control and options, and you don't, this is going to be much more devastating then if you go in planning to just let them do what they need to do.

I think this is a very difficult subject for a natural birth advocate to allow to sink in, but from what I've observed and experienced it is completely true. I don't think the answer is to stop advocating for normal birth, but I have shifted my focus to advocating for mother/baby friendly care. I believe that if providers are taught to treat mothers and babies with compassion and respect and are also taught to obtain informed consent for each procedure instead of a blanket consent, that women would feel less traumatized no matter what their knowledge or expectations when they walked into the situation.
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#10 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lots of women are mistreated and abused during birth, but they don't all experience that mistreatment as traumatic. That is what the OP is talking about. She is asking about her knowledge about birth contributing to her trauma. In my opinion it absolutely does.

Who are the women who have birth trauma? Who are the women who post here and in other places about experiencing birth trauma? Even on mainstream boards whenever birth trauma is discussed the threads have titles that say things like "another natural birth attempt gone wrong". The women who are walking away traumatized are more often then not the women who walked in "educated".

Expectations have so much to do with it. If you immerse yourself in natural birth literature and classes and you hear of all the "options" you have, and words like "empowerment" and "control" are thrown around, then you have an expectation that these things are within your grasp. When you go to give birth and the opposite is true, you are actually disempowered, your control is taken away, and you have no options, then you are more likely to walk out of that experience feeling shell shocked. Your going to wonder what you did wrong, and why you didn't get the beautiful empowering birth experience that you read about. If you walk in thinking your just going to give yourself up to the process, in most cases it wont be that traumatizing when you lose control and power, because you never thought you would have it in the first place.
This is very true and certainly a large part of what I was trying to express (rather incoherently) in my OP.

A lot of the trauma I experienced was the result of knowing that what was being done to me was not in the least evidence-based. I also experienced trauma from the shock of having done everything I possibly could to ensure that I had an empowered birth only to be disempowered in the most awful way. And I'm experiencing retroactive trauma (if you will) because I can't tell myself "When you know better you do better". The only thing I know now that I didn't know then is that I can't trust anyone except myself, and right now, if I had to give birth again all that would lead me to do is to prefer to die rather than set foot inside a hospital in labour again. (Which obviously isn't a very sensible attitude to have, and which is why I know I'm nowhere near ready to even consider another baby). I can't tell myself that with more education the next birth will be so much better - I was already as educated as I can reasonably expect to be without actually being a birth professional (and probably better educated about evidence-based care than most HCPs I encountered)

But I also feel that I was traumatised by my knowledge from a different angle too. By being informed about my choices and about childbirth in general I posed a threat to the OBs ( and possibly even the midwife?). They did not appreciate my being aware of my rights and able to advocate for myself ( the first two - obviously I had no opportunity to advocate for myself in the hospital). The doctors in the hospital were threatened by my choice to homebirth, which instantly told them that I was not the sort of woman to blindly believe whatever nonsense they decided to make up to justify doing whatever they wanted to me. Which I believe directly resulted in their decision to simply do what they wanted without any warning, knowing that if they gave me the opportunity to question them or object I would, which would make their lives more difficult. And I also firmly believe that they did what they did not only to just get rid of me as quickly as possible, but also to punish me for having made informed choices before which called into question their god-like status of having all the knowledge and power. (I should add that the atmosphere here is incredibly paternalistic when it comes to medicine - doctors are never questioned and unnecessary medicalisation is the norm. Hence the fact that in a country of over 10 million people there are fewer than 200 homebirths per year, which incredibly includes unplanned homebirths!) I was really bucking the trend, and on top of that was a 'stupid foreigner' who was trying to do things the way they're done in other places - so I paid the price...

I'm still struggling with this, because part of me wishes so hard that I was totally ignorant of the normalcy of birth and of my rights so that I wouldn't be so traumatised. But in that case the likelihood is that I would have been induced at 41 weeks or so and almost certainly ended up with a c-section (since DD didn't come till 43+1 weeks I really doubt I would have 'progressed' enough to satisfy them.) The other part of me is the part that's always wanted knowledge and truth regardless of the cost. I think that's the true me, but I don't understand why the cost had to be so high.

I get so angry when I hear of people saying 'You got the birth you needed' - why on earth would I need to experience that? I was already a NCB advocate before this happened to me, I had read enough to know that such awful things still happened and could happen and were not the fault of the mother. I didn't need to learn this lesson - I already knew it. (Not, of course, that anyone 'needs' to have something like that happen to them.)

There's nothing worse, IMO, than knowing at the time that something is happening or being done to you that it's wrong but being powerless to do anything about it. (And even knowing that the reason it's being done to you is BECAUSE you know it's wrong).

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#11 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lisa--

You were not traumatized by knowing too much. You were traumatized by being violated by your care providers.

You were violated by your care providers--emotionally, mentally, physically violated by those who were supposed to serve you. And that has nothing to do with how much you were or were not educated about birth....that is ONLY about misogyny, an utter lack of respect for the sacredness of birth, a lack of understanding of the design of birth, and the belief that it is right and good for medical ppl to dominate/control their patients. Your violation has NOTHING to do with how well informed you were.

No, don't blame yourself, not one little bit!

bobandjesse--one on hand I certainly get where you're coming from. But I do disagree with your conclusion. The truth as you have spoken it is quite painful....it is horrifying....it is so WRONG that women and babies are treated as they are most often in hospitals....but it is always better to know the truth I think. Yes, life IS a journey, empowerment and freedom IS a process. And for women who live in a misogynist culture, that journey does not really begin until women do see that painful, horrifying truth as it is enacted upon their bodies and babies' lives. JMO of course.
Thank you for your kind words MsBlack - I do try to remind myself to lay the blame where it belongs, with the people who used my birth to gain power for themselves by taking it from me.

Such behaviour is totally misogynistic, and worse, often perpetuated by women on other women.

The truth is better, but I think a large part of the problem lies in disseminating this awful truth to the general public. What woman wants to find out that she was duped, that her body was unnecessarily violated, that she could have given birth 'normally', etc. ? Who wouldn't blame these women (and their partners) for clinging to the doctor-instilled belief that birth is terribly dangerous, that women need to be 'saved' from it by their doctors, and that the best you can hope for is a 'healthy baby and a healthy mother', regardless of the cost in terms of PPD, sexual dysfunction, damaged breastfeeding relationships, and a myriad of other problems. It's hard to get people to accept the truth when that truth challenges their belief system, or when that truth challenges a multi-million dollar market. Unfortunately truth doesn't sell - fear does. (Yes, I'm pretty cynical.)

I would love for people to realise that the vast majority of obstetrics is little better than old-wives tales in how 'evidence-based' it is (or isn't, more to the point). I would love if women started to uncover the truth that birth isn't as terrifying as they were led to believe. I would love if people knew enough to simply respect the various birthing choice of others without being judgemental or trying to offload their own experiences or fears onto others. And I would love if birth stopped being such a 'medical' thing - if all birth professionals respected the mothers and ensured that they got evidence-based care and informed consent.
If wishing made it so....

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#12 of 23 Old 12-09-2008, 08:13 PM
 
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I can't help but disagree with the posters saying that the knowledge hurt you, and that those with little knowledge are happy with their birth or at least aren't traumatized by them. I was clueless, I didn't know where to turn but I knew and my heart knew what was done to me was NOT OK. When I finally got to hold my son I said "next time homebirth" though I knew next to nothing about it. It wasn't until after the birth of my second baby that I started to look at birth more and since then I have devoured every book I can get my hands on. I have no doubt I suffered from PTSD and PPD, I had bonding issues with my son. I was sexually assualted during my labor, I had to plead with a nurse to remove her hands from my vagina. The only thing knowledge has done for ME and my trauma (the trauma that happened to someone who knew almost nothing) was affirm in my mind I have every right to be ticked off, I have every right to mourn, I have every right to scream and cry over what my body was put through because it was violated.

I think many uneducated women don't think they have those rights and they choose to go against their inital gut feeling of "that was wrong" because society says birth is medical not primal and because of that our emotions are supposed to be removed. Your knowledge made you felt the pain sooner rather than later. My mother had talked about her birth expierence and it didn't sound good but she never sounded displeased. During my second pregnancy and talking to her she finally admitted she was traumtized by her birth, the world around her expected differently so she had to suck it up and move on.

What you went through was truely horrifying, I'm so sorry you had to go through that, I wish there was a way I could ease your pain but I think it's an honorable thing to see you post about it and talk about it. Thank you for sharing

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#13 of 23 Old 12-10-2008, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nursingmama05 I'm sorry that you suffered this betrayal too.

WRT the knowledge thing - I think it's very personal and varies from woman to woman. Some women who go into birth with very little knowledge and are abused by their care providers will go on to learn more about birth, and realise the enormity of what was done to them and how wrong it was. Other women in similar situations will repress their feelings of hurt and betrayal and actively avoid learning anything that would make them question whether their birth experience could/should have been better.
With the women who were already informed going into their births, as you said, it does make them feel the pain sooner. But also you no longer have the option of deluding yourself that you might do if you didn't know so much going into the birth.

Women who didn't know very much about natural/normal childbirth before their births, and who have traumatic births, have two options, as I see it. They can choose to let their awful experience be the catalyst to encourage them to learn, as you did, or they can choose to ignore their own pain and deny that anything was wrong with their experience in order to save themselves from more pain. It's also incredibly difficult to realise that there was something wrong with your experience when it's socially condoned. When everyone around you thinks that it was perfectly acceptable for the doctors, nurses, midwives to violate your bodily integrity for nothing more than their own convenience, or to assert their power over you. When your whole being tells you that it was rape, but you couldn't possibly have been raped in a hospital by a doctor in front of a room full of people standing around watching it happen and thinking nothing of it.

I think that, despite the fact that I think my knowledge in some ways exacerbated my trauma, I prefer to know. It's just in my nature - I need to know. It's incredibly frustrating though, to know how normal birth is, and how wrong so much of what is being done to birthing women every day is, and not to be able to do anything about it. Though I think at least knowing that what was done to me was wrong helps to a certain extent in allowing me to validate my feelings of anger and betrayal.

I just wish everyone knew what we know - if they did the rights of birthing women wouldn't be stripped from them over and over again, every day. Knowledge is power, but in this case it needs to be widespread in order for the power to kick in.

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#14 of 23 Old 12-11-2008, 11:37 AM
 
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Nursingmama--

thanks so much for saying all that--it was what I was intending to say after reading jennica's post.

I have too often seen the signs of suppressed/repressed trauma in women, to think that being uninformed actually helps anyone at all. A woman knows in her soul, in her bones, when she has been violated. It may take years for her to finally admit it; she may never confront it at all--but this traumatizing at birth WILL and DOES impact her life in many negative ways. Being uninformed may make the violation go down easier in the moment (no struggle against it, no anger or horror that it is occurring), and it may make the pp time marginally 'easier' if the trauma is buried.

I think now of a woman I know who told me about her hospital birth about 18mos after. It sounded horrific to me, tho she seemed quite breezy about it all. I didn't want to lay *my* opinions/beliefs on her, yet I couldn't help but make some small comment about 'how hard that must have been to take', something like that. She said, 'look, I'm not one of those women who thinks birth has to be some magical experience. It wasn't fun, but it was just a day in my life. No big deal to me at all, we're both healthy and that's all that matters'. Of course, I immediately backed off.

This by the way is a very educated and assertive woman., but she did not much inform herself about birth.

Anyway, she became pregnant another year or 2 later. I told her that if she needed anything from me by way of support, prenatal ed, referrals, whatever, she should just ask--cuz maybe she might want to see about birthing another way this time. Maybe not--but if so she should just ask and I could probably get her hooked up. She expressed bland appreciation for the offer and that was that.

Until she was like, oh, maybe 38wks along. I get a sudden call from her--she is almost beside herself in a restrained sort of way. She says, she can't go through it again. NOw that birth is nearing, she finds she just CAN'T have another birth like last time, she knows that is just what is shaping up with her OB, and do I have any ideas? Is it too late to switch providers? I was able to send her to a very nice, natural friendly CNM practice at the 'good hospital' nearby (which has since been driven out of OB care by the Big Bad Hosp ),

Anyway, she called me again a few weeks after giving birth--just raving about how wonderful her birth was, no interference, all natural, thanks for the referral, you really knew what you were talking about didnt you....etc, etc.

Now this woman would never have said that her first birth traumatized her--I doubt she would, even now. But I think it's pretty clear, whatever words are used/not used, that it did something awful enough to her that she knew she couldn't chance it again! And it was never really articulated for her--she was just driven from somewhere deep inside, to go for something better next time. Lucky for her that she was already in other ways an empowered, assertive and aware women. She was not interested in the 'jargon' or 'trend' of 'birth trauma'--but she WAS interested in listening to herself! And that was enough.
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#15 of 23 Old 12-11-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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Lisa--

I absolutely think you are right that your level of education and assertiveness concerning birth was something that prompted greater violation against you by your care providers. Their common, garden variety everyday ordinary mechanistic and misogynist approach to birth was surely, in your case, fueled by a particular and personal rage that you should have tried to do anything differently than what they dictate, or tried to have any say at all in the domain they firmly and utterly hold as their own.

Throughout the ages, women of courage, intelligence and personal power have been tortured, drugged, imprisoned, maimed, cast out, locked in mental institutions, executed and in various ways punished for their sin of not going along with patriarchy. So yes--I do want to affirm your sense that in that specific way, your being informed very likely DID lead to greater trauma for you.

However, I want to add that I hope your knowledge of this fact helps you to understand just how very strong, intelligent and amazing you really are. Cuz if not, you would not likely have attracted quite so much by way of their rage and punishment. And of course, if not, you would not be here today, healing yourself and growing still

Crazy, but sometimes we can't help but get some clues about how WonderFull we are, by virtue of the bad reactions of others....
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#16 of 23 Old 12-11-2008, 01:38 PM
 
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I'm thinking I was a bit misunderstood. I didn't say that women who are not "educated" (which by the way I think is a really loaded and ridiculous word when it comes to birth, but that is another post), don't get birth trauma. I never said that. The points I was trying to make were that being educated about natural birth, in my opinion from what I've observed, sets a woman up to be more at risk for experiencing trauma. This could be for a variety of reasons, but my opinions for why it happens I shared above. Also, I was standing back and looking at the larger picture. Individual cases are of course individual. But when one stands back to look at the big picture, what does one see? Who are the women who are most often getting traumatized? More often then not it isn't the ones who didn't know anything or have any opinions about how they wanted things to go.

MsBlack,

I agree that a lot of these women who were not that "educated" have buried trauma. But, buried trauma is not birth trauma, nor is it PTSD. It may or may not show up in their life in a significant way, but for now, it's buried and it doesn't affect them much. They refuse to acknowledge or accept that their birth was traumatic. So, in this way being "educated" increases the chances of experiencing birth trauma, not just having buried trauma, but really being affected by that trauma. If I could go back in time and choose to have buried trauma, or PTSD from my birth, I would choose buried trauma in a second. This way I would get back my postpartum time with my son, I would have been a better mother, I would not have had to suffer for years...

However, that doesn't mean that I don't think women should be educated! I just think that women need to be presented with reality, not some frosty looking picture of what their birth could be under optimum circumstances. I think that the people who need to be educated are providers and hospitals and nurses and midwives, not the women. Of course, women knowing what is normal and knowing about options and how to advocate for herself and all stuff is great, but, I really think that unless we are educating the people who are directly contributing to a woman's experience of trauma, whether that be birth trauma, PTSD, or buried trauma, it isn't going to go away. I think that women can be extremely educated and be met with people who are bent on violating her. And like you touched on, the more educated she is, the more she is abused. This is likely because she is making their job harder by not going with the status quo. I am working towards the goal of educating facilities and providers, and I have confidence that it can be accomplished. I don't think the answer is to keep women in ignorance, but I think telling ourselves that education doesn't affect birth trauma, or even protects us from it, is not serving anyone.
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#17 of 23 Old 12-12-2008, 09:38 AM
 
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Jennica--

I think we probably agree in an important way here. It is certainly true that a woman who seeks a natural birth in the hospital needs to be made aware of the realities of birthing in a hospital (at least, in the hospital and with the provider she intends to use, or those available for her to choose). I definitely do not think it's a good idea for anyone to believe that *just* by being informed about evidence based care, and about the laws on informed consent respecting medical matters, will produce the natural birth of anyone's dreams!

Far better to provide info and support toward navigating the system she will be engaged with, what she can realistically expect to be pretty much 'non-negotiable' in her chosen venue, ways she can avoid the worst of what she hopes to avoid, etc. There is one OB here who tells women who come to him wanting an all-natural, self-managed birth, "well, you need to have a homebirth then--that's not going to happen in my hospital". He at least is honest! And he is pretty supportive of natural birth, but even he 'requires' IV for all patients. Most docs will not be that honest--and instead will push and pressure for the whole 9 medical yards with overt ('you have to, it's policy') and covert (scare-inducing, 'dead baby card') tactics. Some may want to allow a less managed approach, but have to deal with hospital policy and peer pressure. Others simply don't have any interest at all in woman-centered, woman-driven care, have Little Emperor Complexes and don't give a rat's hiney for the evidence.

Not to mention that your OB or CNM has no influence whatsoever upon the NICU staff and neonatologist--so you'd still have to deal with what they'll want to do with your baby....

And women need to definitely understand this!

I also agree that the work of pushing for mother and baby-friendly hospitals, is very important and bless you for doing it! I also think, however, that that work will not go far enough until more pregnant/laboring women DO act toward their desires at birth, DO argue (not necessarily while in labor!) against the non-evidence based practices, do refuse unwanted/unneeded forms of care.

Finally, you said:
"....But, buried trauma is not birth trauma, nor is it PTSD. It may or may not show up in their life in a significant way, but for now, it's buried and it doesn't affect them much. "

I disagree with this. Any trauma that is not processed/healed DOES impact our lives in significant ways--we just don't recognize it as such. It does impact our relationships, our health, our decisions--at a level below awareness. This lack of awareness does not make the effects less damaging to our lives...in fact perhaps it allows those effects to be MORE damaging, because we don't see those buried emotions operating.

"They refuse to acknowledge or accept that their birth was traumatic. So, in this way being "educated" increases the chances of experiencing birth trauma, not just having buried trauma, but really being affected by that trauma."

It is true that awareness makes trauma more immediately painful and difficult. But only through awareness, and feeling that pain, are we able to heal--to become more whole, to learn how to take the good from any bad experience and also how to avoid similar future experiences. But again--buried trauma IS affecting us, just not in ways we are (yet) aware of. One never can avoid PTSD--only be blind to it, ignoring it. PTSD does not arise at the moment you become aware of the trauma....it is there from the get-go and it DOES eat away at our lives, aware of it or not.

"If I could go back in time and choose to have buried trauma, or PTSD from my birth, I would choose buried trauma in a second. This way I would get back my postpartum time with my son, I would have been a better mother, I would not have had to suffer for years... "

I am so sorry that you have had to live with and through this. Yet--what if. What if you had had a place to go with your pain, to get support and sort things out. What if it was considered normal for you to feel so rotten about the way your birth went, and you didn't have to feel even worse because of 'feeling bad about feeling bad'. To me, this is the really terrible thing about birth trauma--it is only now beginning to be accepted and understood; even now, women feel bad (guilty, remorseful, etc) that they are not all happy after their births. But if their feelings of violation, grief, rage, betrayal were acknowledged as normal following a bad birth, were affirmed and supported--well, I just don't think that the suffering would be so intense nor so long lived.

Of course, the biggest What If, is this: what if we lived in a world where ONLY evidence based birth care was allowed. What if women really could freely choose the kind of care they wanted, without struggle. What if medicine were not profit driven and birth was treated as the sacred process that it is. Then we just would not see much by way of birth trauma.

Unfortunately, we here get to be on the cutting edge. We are the generation that IS gaining awareness and feeling the very real pain of the way modern obstetrics is done to women and babies. We are in the midst of a huge social upheaval, and this is most always painful and hard on people. But fortunately, we are able to do this, to ride it out, to claim power and joy as big as the pain has ever been.

anyway, thanks again for the work you do in this....thanks to Lisa, and to you , and to all the moms who did get informed, did try to have their dream birth, did survive the pain of horrific experiences to keep on keeping on and making for healing changes for us all.
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#18 of 23 Old 12-12-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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MsBlack,

Yes, I do think we agree on a few things. For clarification though:

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Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
It is certainly true that a woman who seeks a natural birth in the hospital needs to be made aware of the realities of birthing in a hospital (at least, in the hospital and with the provider she intends to use, or those available for her to choose). I definitely do not think it's a good idea for anyone to believe that *just* by being informed about evidence based care, and about the laws on informed consent respecting medical matters, will produce the natural birth of anyone's dreams!
This is where I have a problem with that term "educated". Women are often "educated" about birth, but not about the hospital system. Women may think having a home birth is the answer and not be aware that some midwives are abusive as well, which can take them completely off guard. Knowing about evidence based care and the pros and cons of procedures is one aspect of being "educated", but applying that knowledge in a system that was not created to accommodate it is whole other set of knowledge, which a lot of women don't have. Other women, like myself, felt protected by their choices. Choosing a homebirth with a midwife, or a birth center birth either in or out of hospital with a midwife, gives women a false sense of security. Their guard is lowered when they think their choices will protect them.


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Far better to provide info and support toward navigating the system she will be engaged with, what she can realistically expect to be pretty much 'non-negotiable' in her chosen venue, ways she can avoid the worst of what she hopes to avoid, etc.
Hmm, I'm not even sure this is possible. What do you tell women to "avoid the worst"? Do you say "you must have someone watching like a hawk while you birth to see if they pick up a scissors, and if they do then kick them!" Or, "if they ask to do a VE, and you say no, then if they try to do one anyway, close your legs, and if they pry them apart, and jam their hands in there, then..." I mean, this type of education would leave women terrified of what they may experience. Also, it implies there is something she can do to avoid a birthrape type situation, which I'm not sure is really avoidable. I mean, how do you suggest that a woman "avoid the worst of what she hopes to avoid"?

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I also agree that the work of pushing for mother and baby-friendly hospitals, is very important and bless you for doing it! I also think, however, that that work will not go far enough until more pregnant/laboring women DO act toward their desires at birth, DO argue (not necessarily while in labor!) against the non-evidence based practices, do refuse unwanted/unneeded forms of care.
Thanks, and I agree! We need to educate from both sides of the issue to create change. But, this is speaking to natural birth advocacy, and mother/baby friendly care, not to whether education contributes to or sets women up for experiencing greater trauma. That is a different discussion and a different reality. It is a complex issue and there are no easy answers.


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Finally, you said:
"....But, buried trauma is not birth trauma, nor is it PTSD. It may or may not show up in their life in a significant way, but for now, it's buried and it doesn't affect them much. "

I disagree with this. Any trauma that is not processed/healed DOES impact our lives in significant ways--we just don't recognize it as such. It does impact our relationships, our health, our decisions--at a level below awareness. This lack of awareness does not make the effects less damaging to our lives...in fact perhaps it allows those effects to be MORE damaging, because we don't see those buried emotions operating.
Okay, I will concede to this. I do think that buried trauma causes problems, and I also think it leads to the increased diagnosis and medicating of PPD. However, after experiencing both buried trauma and full blown PTSD, I'd take the buried stuff any day. And I don't think buried trauma is more damaging, I definitely think trauma is more damaging, and it effects everyone in your life.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
"They refuse to acknowledge or accept that their birth was traumatic. So, in this way being "educated" increases the chances of experiencing birth trauma, not just having buried trauma, but really being affected by that trauma."

It is true that awareness makes trauma more immediately painful and difficult. But only through awareness, and feeling that pain, are we able to heal--to become more whole, to learn how to take the good from any bad experience and also how to avoid similar future experiences. But again--buried trauma IS affecting us, just not in ways we are (yet) aware of. One never can avoid PTSD--only be blind to it, ignoring it. PTSD does not arise at the moment you become aware of the trauma....it is there from the get-go and it DOES eat away at our lives, aware of it or not.
Have you ever experienced trauma or PTSD? "But only through awareness, and feeling that pain, are we able to heal--to become more whole, to learn how to take the good from any bad experience and also how to avoid similar future experiences." So your telling me I had to experience years of extreme anxiety and depression, flashbacks and nightmares, hyper vigilance and self destructive behaviors so that I could be "more whole" and "learn how to take the good from any bad experience and also how to avoid similar future experiences"? Can you please explain to me what the "good" part of having a forced episiotomy was? Or having forced VE's? Or having forced meds put into my IV? Or having my baby taken away from me before I even got to touch him? I guess I'm not as enlightened and I fail to see the "good" in that. I fail to see how that is supposed to teach me some kind of life lesson. "One never can avoid PTSD--only be blind to it, ignoring it. PTSD does not arise at the moment you become aware of the trauma....it is there from the get-go and it DOES eat away at our lives, aware of it or not." I am pretty sure there is no way to avoid being "aware" of PTSD. It can remain dormant for a time, but when it presents itself, it is not possible to ignore it. I don't believe that women with "buried trauma" have PTSD. They would not meet the DSM diagnostic criteria for PTSD given that they are not experiencing any of it's symptoms.


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Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
"If I could go back in time and choose to have buried trauma, or PTSD from my birth, I would choose buried trauma in a second. This way I would get back my postpartum time with my son, I would have been a better mother, I would not have had to suffer for years... "

I am so sorry that you have had to live with and through this. Yet--what if. What if you had had a place to go with your pain, to get support and sort things out. What if it was considered normal for you to feel so rotten about the way your birth went, and you didn't have to feel even worse because of 'feeling bad about feeling bad'. To me, this is the really terrible thing about birth trauma--it is only now beginning to be accepted and understood; even now, women feel bad (guilty, remorseful, etc) that they are not all happy after their births. But if their feelings of violation, grief, rage, betrayal were acknowledged as normal following a bad birth, were affirmed and supported--well, I just don't think that the suffering would be so intense nor so long lived.
I agree, but this again is getting off topic. It doesn't speak to the issue of whether education makes women more at risk for trauma.

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Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
Of course, the biggest What If, is this: what if we lived in a world where ONLY evidence based birth care was allowed. What if women really could freely choose the kind of care they wanted, without struggle. What if medicine were not profit driven and birth was treated as the sacred process that it is. Then we just would not see much by way of birth trauma.

Unfortunately, we here get to be on the cutting edge. We are the generation that IS gaining awareness and feeling the very real pain of the way modern obstetrics is done to women and babies. We are in the midst of a huge social upheaval, and this is most always painful and hard on people. But fortunately, we are able to do this, to ride it out, to claim power and joy as big as the pain has ever been.

anyway, thanks again for the work you do in this....thanks to Lisa, and to you , and to all the moms who did get informed, did try to have their dream birth, did survive the pain of horrific experiences to keep on keeping on and making for healing changes for us all.
I totally agree with this, and thanks for the compliments Birth trauma is a symptom of our messed up maternity care system, and it is an essential element to force a change. That is not always that comforting though to people like the OP who wish they could just have gone along with the whole thing in ignorance and avoid all heartache. I've been there too, and though I'm glad I have my knowledge and wouldn't change that, it also was a contributing factor. An 'essential for social change' contributing factor, but an individual betrayal for me nonetheless.
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#19 of 23 Old 12-12-2008, 04:45 PM
 
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Jennica--

You are right that we are verging into various topics related to, but on exactly on-point with, the OP's post....

I will try to be brief here, and stay on Lisa's topic! 2 big challenges for me But anyway, I won't try to address each of your points here.

When I mention helping women navigate the system and avoid the worst--that can mean, in part, talking about choosing battles wisely. So--maybe you can't avoid all VEs, but you can avoid some of them, and choose/negotiate when to get them. It can also mean discussing these things upfront with HCPs, understanding their expectations, exceptions, etc. So--'educating' women/families should not JUST be about how birth works or evidence based care, but also about what they can expect by way of care from their chosen provider/hosp. And things like staying home until well along in labor, doulas and monitrices.....

Again, I think we agree that 'education' can be 'bad' when it's only about how birth works normally, and about evidence based care--'bad', meaning it can lead to more trauma than is experienced by those who don't know a thing. But that can be remedied (well, in my theory) by giving women realistic understanding ('education') of the system they choose to work with--the providers, location, etc.

Yes, I have survived trauma and suffer from PTSD. This is both in my distant past (childhood) and nearer past (domestic violence and traumatic birth--related to each other to some degree but not entirely). When I speak of these things, I speak from my experiences as well as from the study I've done and acquaintance with many abuse survivors of different types of abuse. When I speak of 'taking what good you can from it', I'm NOT saying that there was anything 'good' or 'needful' about the experiences.

But--*surviving* abuse is a good thing! Affirming THAT one has survived, rather than being destroyed by it; CHOOSING to be a survivor who continues to thrive, instead of a victim who never again raises her beaten head; acknowledging the things one did, specifically, to help self and children survive; growing stronger and wiser from painful events, so as to help prevent their recurrence; learning about our culture and the ways that such abuse is systemic, becoming radicalized/galvanized to change things---THAT is some of the good we can take from having been abused.

It has been said, I don't know by whom, sorry: "Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you." The most awful things can happen to people. People, in fact, are most often the authors of the most awful things that can happen to us! But also, storms and tsunamis strike, accidents happen--lives are damaged or lost, dreams and objects shattered beyond repair. This is life and none of us is exempt from it. To survive means, literally, 'to live beyond'--those who can transform themselves, in the wake of terrible experiences, from victims into survivors are those who, no matter how terrible the feelings or betrayals or injuries, make strong, healing choices about what to do with their experiences (even while they may also grieve, kick, scream, etc, as is only a normal part of surviving/healing). They live beyond what happened to them; they make all that happens something they can gain from, somehow--or at least, they don't let events stop them from living.

Oops, rambling off topic again.... main thing being that while knowledge can be an element of our power, knowledge has to be balanced with realism and also with grit, if it will be useful to us and not just something that worsens the possibility of betrayal, violation, trauma at birth.
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#20 of 23 Old 01-17-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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"I had just read in my new pregnancy book, was that PAP smears are not recommended for pregnant women - the results are rarely accurate and there is a 1 in 100 chance of causing a miscarriage of an otherwise healthy fetus."

Could you share the name of this book? I'm having a hard time believing that a pap smear, which wipes off cells from the outer cervix, is a causal factor in miscarriages. Thanks.
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#21 of 23 Old 01-18-2009, 11:05 PM
 
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I realize this thread is a little dated, but it caught my attention, as I figure things out.

I struggle with understanding your pov - I am very glad to be educated about birth. I think that it is possibly my personality, but I've always sought knowledge. I believe it is empowering. We have learned a little more with each birth (children are 9, 5 & nb). DD1 born in a hospital, narrowly escaped without an epi. DD2 born at home, most joyous experience of my life. DD3 delivered by devastating but medically necessary surgery after planning for hb.

I don't think that "knowing" has contributed in a negative way to my birth experiences at all. I think that maybe I can imagine how someone might feel that way, though. But to me, it seems like some people maybe don't *want* to know more, so in a way, I can see how knowledge might be scary for them. I've met women who are blissfully ignorant of their choices and are perfectly content being "told" what to do. Society has made it so normal to listen and trust doctors 100%. It has also made it normal to not question mainstream birth.

But that's what is sad for me. I feel like if nobody questions things, nothing will ever change. The future looks bleak for my daughters. I'm probably not speaking my thoughts very clearly. I've always been convinced that knowledge is the key. The medical establishment is most to blame, though. The idea that an empowered mother in labor is the enemy is what causes the most pain in birth. I fought for my dignity from the second I stepped into the hospital. I did not want to be there, but I did it because it was the "right" thing to do, since my baby was in distress. But I have tried to imagine how I would have felt if I didn't know what I know. Maybe it's not accurate because I crave knowledge and inherently don't trust the doctors, but I think I would have felt more scared. And I know I would have left the hospital in just as much pain - but also more disconnected with my baby. Most likely, I would not be breastfeeding. So, the part of the birth that I **need** most in order to recover would have been lost.

Anyway, forgive the rambling. But thanks for making me think about it in a different way.
--janis

Mama to 3 girls 12,8,3
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#22 of 23 Old 01-21-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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I haven't read the whole thread, and I'm not responding precisely to the OP, but rather to the "too much knowledge" idea.

I knew nothing beyond what I'd read in the standard publication (we have a government publication called "Baby's Best Chance") given to all pregnant women here, which I'd almost memorized. I'd also attended a very basic prenatal class.

The OB at the hospital did a c-section after I said "no". I didn't need any knowledge to be traumatized by the experience - no knowledge at all. I already knew I didn't want on, as I was born by cesarean, and that's bothered my profoundly my whole life.

What I wanted didn't count. My bodily integrity didn't count. Actually giving me any information about why it was so necessary to cut me didn't count (I never got a straight answer - and ds1 is almost 16). I didn't need to know anything to be traumatized....I just had to be there.

Looking back, I wish I'd known more. I don't know if it would have made any difference, and I still would have had an unwanted cesarean that I never consented to - but maybe it would have helped...

I don't know.
I don't think it's knowledge that traumatizes us. I think it's going through traumatic experiences that traumatized us, and that it's aggravated by the number of people who refuse to admit that we were, in fact, traumatized.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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#23 of 23 Old 01-21-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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The more knowledge a woman has, the more different she may want her experience to be then the typical hospital birth. And here is where the problem comes in. She is then "empowered" but put in a situation where she has to confront people who have no intentions of giving up their power to get the birth she wants. In some cases, this works out, in other cases, this puts her at such odds with the hospital staff that she is abused, assaulted, violated, or raped... whatever your word of choice is. Knowledge is good, being put in a position where you now have to fight with hospital staff is bad, and can put a woman at greater risk of experiencing birth trauma.

This isn't a black and white issue, no one is saying that women should not have knowledge about birth or educate themselves about interventions, some of us are just saying, "hey, wait a minute, if I was not "educated" I may not have been treated like crap and therefore traumatized. It's uncomfortable to think about, but worth exploring so we can figure out how to prevent birth trauma for others.
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