Nothing catches a woman’s attention more than the word rape. For many, it is our greatest fear to be forced into unwanting, violent sexual relations. For rape victims, it is something they can never forget.
To hear the term coupled with “birth” is oxymoron-like, except for those that have actually suffered from birth rape.
What exactly is birth rape? CafeMom’s the Stir explains:
No one would dream of telling a woman who was talking about her feelings about her rape, “Stop complaining and just be grateful that you’re okay.” And yet for as many as one in every twenty women who suffer from PTSD from birth trauma and birth rape, that’s exactly what they’re told: “Shut up and just be grateful you and your baby are healthy.”
We are treating mothers in ways that we wouldn’t dream of treating rape victims, though often the trauma and lasting effects are quite similar…
These are all things told to women who are suffering after their birth and find the phrase “birth rape” to be fitting for their own personal experience. As one brilliant woman said, they’re telling women “it’s not RAPE rape …” as if that explains it.
It is certainly the opposite of the orgasmic childbirth experience espoused by Ina May.
I would have to say that both of my own childbirth experiences were traumatic, especially after hemorrhaging during my daughter’s birth requiring manual compressions on my uterus. Furthermore, I’d have to say there was a certain amount of PTSD involved; however, I would not describe it as rape. My midwife saved my life. I obviously did not experience birth rape. Nothing was done against my consent.
Salon.com has also been writing about birth rape frequently this fall. Recently, they wrote about how birth trauma is on the rise:
Most everything about pushing a writhing, screaming human being out of your most intimate parts seems harrowing — but increasing attention is being paid to labor experiences that so exceed even that base level of intensity as to be classified as trauma. Recent reports have found that 30 percent of births classify as traumatic and 9 percent of new moms in the U.S. show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s also been a fringe push to recognize some of these experiences as “birth rape.” And now there come reports that birth trauma — defined as a frightening labor experience that leaves a woman with PTSD-like symptoms — is on the rise in the U.K., and that women are increasingly opting for C-sections out of a fear of natural labor…
The obvious question is why something as common as childbirth — which is supposedly safer than ever — has become such a topic of terror.
There isn’t any one answer. Part of it can certainly be explained by the growing home birth movement, which has been propelled by a handful ofdocumentaries that depict hellish hospital births that are painful, frightening and disempowering, and the comparative heaven of midwife-guided labor.
Seriously, the home birth movement is to blame for the growing numbers of birth rapes? I think Salon.com has it backwards.
The growth in the number of parents seeking home births and the increase in documentaries about hospital birth trauma is caused by birth rape, not the other way around.
Education on birth options does not cause rape!
Obvious, not all hospitals traumatize mothers, and there are even accusations of midwives being responsible for birth rape. Venezuela has officially coined the term “obstetric violence” to replace the more “offensive” or “loaded” term of birth rape. Whatever you call it, it should not happen, and the real cause or prevention is being avoided by debating the term.
If you want to call your traumatic birth experience rape, I will not judge you. I was not there. I don’t know what you experienced. Instead, I will have empathy for you and hope that it never occurs again.