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I have just seen something on FB, which has really riled me.  Along the lines of a woman in labour who has an examination, cervical sweep, forceps, ventouse or caesarean has actually been raped, because if a random stranger in the street did these things to her they would be charged for bodily harm.

The whole birthing experience for me isn’t terribly emotive, I had one natural birth and then three considered high risk where I was monitored by consultant care and ended in C/S.  For me I see the birth as the passage of the baby (hopefully) being born alive and well (I don’t assume that that is a given anymore) , so due to my experience my complete thoughts are focused on the end result; I’m not really bothered how the baby comes out as long as my wishes are respected, I feel in control and am treated with care etc etc.  I have generally been happy with all of my experiences thankfully.

But statements like this upsets me for those who have *had* to have interventions and then have gone on to be made to feel like they have somehow failed.  A few people commented on FB saying that these procedures are medically needed to preserve life of mother/baby at times, but the response was that if mother had the three mammalian principles of privacy, darkness and (something else I can’t remember) then these would NEVER be required.  I do think that these interventions are overused, but at the same time (particularly C/S) I do believe that they are a means of saving mother/baby. 

I know this is a highly emotive topic for many, but just wanted to know how others felt about this?

Muslim mum of four, home educating, environmental hypocrite (but doing my best) hodge podging through this life…..

I think the term birth rape isn’t very useful.  Rape is a terrible thing and shouldn’t be confused with other matters, even if they are also terrible.

I have heard of the term being used when a women has declined consent for medical procedures and then been held down for them to be carried out.  That isn’t rape, it’s assault.  And from what I hear in from the US, it isn’t all that uncommon.  A few women have written of their experiences where time and again they have said no to a procedure and it has been carried out by force with the phrase “It’s for your own good.”  This is obviously wrong and unless you can prove that the women isn’t medically competent to consent, then her wishes should be respected. 

I had many ‘difficult’ patients who declined the treatment we wanted to give them.  People do it for various reasons.  It’s a medical professionals job to listen to those reasons and advise using language that is understood by the patient and words that are true. 

Medical procedures do save lives.  My mother would have died of a haemorrhage if she hadn’t had a section.  Several of my friends would have died with their babies stuck inside them if it hadn’t be noted that their pelvic bones were too small to fit at babies head through.  The only treatment pre c-section for that was to crush the skull and deliver the baby, thus saving the mother. My friend is currently working in Papua New Guinea.  She is heartbroken by the number of deaths she sees that could be prevented in the UK or US.

So I really don’t like the term ‘birth rape’.  Childbirth should be as natural as possible, but parents need to work with medical professionals to decide which interventions are appropriate, parents need to know what potential risks are and benefits, and we need to be thankful that we can have our babies at a much lower risk than women did in the UK 150 years ago.



Mommy of a gorgeous little boy born Nov 2012 My new blog, mainly for my husband to see our adventures

**edited to remove a thoughtlessly expressed opinion** 

There is a definite need for change, more openness on birth, more empowering of women to believe in their bodies’ ability to safely birth a baby.
However, there should not be a whitewashing of birth - it is a huge stresser on the body, there are factors that could impede a birth and put both baby and mum’s lives at risk… to ignore that is foolishness… I think we need to know the risks but not be bashed over the head.

Take all of us who’ve had a CS, we are immediately informed that the risk of a rupture means we must have a CS if we get pregnant again - a pregnancy after 2yrs (the length of time it takes for the scar tissue to heal properly), dramatically reduces the risk - and we have scans, the Dr’s are often able to tell if the scar tissue is attached to the uterus, thus making a rupture even greater.    It is the norm for women to give birth in hospital - that is unnecessary for most women, the fear around birth needs addressing, women need empowering….

but yeah, to say medical intervention is never needed is just plain stupid.

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I think “birth rape” accurately describes some women’s experiences of birth.

Thanks for the replies, it is interesting to hear others’ thoughts.

I totally agree with this

There is a definite need for change, more openness on birth, more empowering of women to believe in their bodies’ ability to safely birth a baby.

but I can’t see how women can become more empowered when they are beaten down at the first hurdle with sweeping statements in the OP.  The “owner” of the comment is supposedly influential in the parenting sphere, and it worries me that there is such a one sidedness put across.  Birth could be a lot less medicalized than it is, but even in the best circumstances problems can arise and interventions are at times necessary.  It does not need to mean that a woman is violated (altho I am not for one minute suggesting that it doesn’t happen) but to use the word rape in conjunction with a procedure that many DO consent to is so wrong to me.

Muslim mum of four, home educating, environmental hypocrite (but doing my best) hodge podging through this life…..

Legal definition is rape involves the use of a penis, therefore a woman cannot commit rape except by aiding and abetting.

Just my legal take (from someone currently revising criminal law), but in general am agreeing wholeheartedly with loveArwen. x

Mother to Harry (6) and Oliver (4) and Hannah who arrived at 5.57pm on Friday 10th May 2013 - our new blog, Three Little Monkeys

I think the term is a bit inappropriate.
However, I did feel by body was totally violated during my first birth. :( Which took a long time to come to terms with and in the early days, when trying to explain to my husband how I was feeling… I did say I felt like I had been physically abused…. for want of a better way to explain it.  (and my birth experience wasn’t half as bad as some womens i know. )

Baby wearing, breast feeding, cloth nappying, co-sleeping, BLW, crafty Mama to stargazing - sunroof baby Amélie (07/07) and HBAC baby Freya (04/10)

I totally support the use of the phrase “birth rape” to describe forcible penetration with fingers or objects by a doctor in a medical setting where the patient has not given consent, or has specifically refused the intervention. I am horrified and disgusted to see the angry responses to the legitimate pain and betrayal of women assaulted during childbirth. Did it occur to you that writing here you were choosing to attack women on this board who have lived through this?!

Do you bring out the legal terms to argue with a woman who was assaulted if she calls it rape when it was “only” a fist? Rape is not even MOSTLY sexual, it is about power. Holding down a patient and ignoring their screams to get the hell off them is about power, because the doctor thinks they know better. Seriously. I am so utterly furious I don’t even know if I can get the words out. If you want to ask a polite question, you could have asked it. Instead you chose an attack, about an extremely painful subject. And the rest of you FREAKING JOINED IN?!

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What’s the legal term for penetration with something other than a penis then? Is it simply ‘assault’? What about if it’s in a ‘traditional’ rape scenario, that a glass bottle is used or as we’ve heard from horrific stories from Africa, gun butts? Vaginal or anal penetration with either another person’s body part or an implement against the woman’s wishes, whether it being in a hospital setting or otherwise sure sounds like rape to me.

(BTW, referring only to women as we’re addressing ‘birth rape’ not male and female ‘traditional’ rape)

Although, having said that, what if the vaginal penetration with whatever really truly is needed in order to preserve the life of the mother and/or child during labour?

(I’m not trying to be inflammatory here, I’m genuinely curious and ill-informed - am off to make myself better informed though, via internet!)

Blue-haired crunchy Mama to Ru (5 yrs), Pixie Willow (3 years) and Baby Gaia (7 months).

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It happened to me seven years ago. I have PTSD as a result of being flipped on to my back, examined and a ‘clip’ (actually a needle through the scalp) put on Len…all needlessly, all as I was screaming ‘no’, and the clip caused Len to turn around and around (oh, but don’t worry, ‘babies don’t feel pain’) which resulted in her being born with no heart beat. As a result, I am unable to be touched by midwives, have panic attacks around all health professionals and am unable to have a smear test.

Often the phrase ‘if the baby and mum are alive’ is used to gloss over women’s experience of birth - which is important and can have far reaching consequences for the mother and all of her children. Please don’t minimise the enormous effect that assault during birth can have on women. I’m not sure that the phrase ‘birth rape’ is the most effective one to use - I would like there to be an offence specific to vaginal penetration without consent during birth…but put like that, honestly…sounds a lot like rape doesn’t it?

Hippy-anarchist-feminist-eco-crafty Mama of

Helena July 06
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Oh Claire, I’m so sorry that happened to you. Must have been horrific to feel so powerless, but more power to you for speaking so openly about it to us. x

Blue-haired crunchy Mama to Ru (5 yrs), Pixie Willow (3 years) and Baby Gaia (7 months).

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This is exactly my issue with the term too LoveArwen.  It’s not a denial that these medical folks, who we should be able to trust, have violated that trust in an inhumane and horrific way, and frankly they should be stripped of their licenses to practice and imprisioned.

My strong issues with the usage of the term (and only the usage of rape), is because of some personal stuff that I will not share on this public board, or indeed in private for that matter. 
I have equally strong emotions and feel sick and angry.  I was also deeply angry to be told years ago when I talked of Rye’s birth that I was raped - and when I said I was not, they attacked me and appeared to be demanding that I “feel” raped, I was told I was condoning what the midwives and the drs did and I was responsible for when it happened again.

However, I am again letting my emotions get the better of me, and I did express myself in a thoughtless manner in my first post.

J  - Freeform Crochet Art.

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I completely agree with Sarah. I’m quite shocked and had to wait a while before replying.

I had two great births but that doesn’t mean I would ever question a woman who felt she was raped. Yes the word rape can sometimes be overused however in my personal opinion it is a completely accurate term to describe what continues to happen to many women.

I started a birth mentoring program recently and have been shocked how many women have been through experiences similar to Claire.  It is a violation and it is totally about power. It seems accurate to me to call it birth rape.

Unschooling Mama to Ava (2) and Ezra (due April), living and parenting as mindfully as possible.

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