Nurse opinions on "Birth Rape"

  1. I ran across this writing on a site called, "Birth Trauma Truths" and wonder what my fellow nurses think and/or feel about it. Me: Mother was Army Cadet RN, put me to work on the county hospital L & D when I was 13 years old. I have now been a Registered Nurse in all areas for over 42 years. Even with precips I always made a point to drape Mom and explain everything everybody was doing. I once solo delivered a babe in the floor of the hallway outside ICU, while a code was going on inside! I had never heard of Birth Rape but apparently it has been around on midwife's sites for quite some time. Weigh in and discuss, discuss.

    FROM BIRTH TRAUMA TRUTHS -
    A vulnerable woman, who is powerless to leave the situation, is at times held down against her will, has strangers looking & touching at private parts of her body, perhaps without appropriate measures being taken to acknowledge her ownership of her body or to preserve her comfort levels. Perhaps she has fingers or instruments inserted without her consent, and sometimes against her consent, invading and crossing decent boundaries. She is fearful of what is happening to her and perhaps for the wellbeing of her baby, and receives no reassurance that either she or her child are ok. That is a violation, no matter how you look at it. Even IF this treatment is given with no malice and the intent of attempting to assist her with birthing her child, there is NEVER a reason to forgo common decencies that will enable her to maintain a role in the birth, some autonomy over her body, to be involved in the decision-making, to be informed about what they want to do BEFORE they do it.
    •  
  2. 56 Comments

  3. by   roser13
    I'm really not sure what reaction is expected.
  4. by   cleback
    I have not met anyone who claimed it but I can see how it might happen... someone who has low health literacy doesn't know what is going on and may be too scared to speak up with what she's uncomfortable with.... combine that with a medical worker with a strong personality and I can see how the patient may have a traumatic experience.

    I hate the word rape though... unless its describing a truly criminal act, I don't think it should be used.
  5. by   Cowboyardee
    There is already a term for when medical professionals override a patient's autonomy and wishes in treating them without adequate justification. That term is 'battery,' not 'rape.'
    Last edit by Cowboyardee on Mar 3
  6. by   LovingLife123
    To me this would only happen in an emergent situation to save the baby's life. A woman can say she doesn't want treatment for herself, bit for her unborn child? Hitting a murky area there. Especially if the fetus is viable.

    The term rape is very misused here, and I find it offensive for women who have had to actually endure a rape.
  7. by   canoehead
    Birth rape absolutely happens. I did two weeks (orienting )on a busy labor unit, saw 2 or 3 births each shift, and also saw 2 situations that I would not hesitate to call birth rape. In addition, every shift brought women who confirmed with their OB that they did not want an episiotomy, and they ended up with one. During the second week I realized that some providers do an episiotomy on all their patients, but tell them all it was medically necessary. That's not rape, but it's darn sure criminal.
  8. by   klone
    When a woman is yelling and crying "No, stop! Stop!" when a provider is sticking his/her hands inside her vagina, and not stopping, I definitely feel that "rape" is an apt description.

    I've seen it. I've seen it in situations where it was NOT a matter of life or death. And you know what? Even if it was, the provider still has no right to do things to a woman's body against her will. And yes, I've watched a fetus die on the fetal monitor because the woman would not consent to surgery. And I still feel strongly that we cannot force anything upon her.
  9. by   klone
    Quote from LovingLife123
    To me this would only happen in an emergent situation to save the baby's life. A woman can say she doesn't want treatment for herself, bit for her unborn child? Hitting a murky area there. Especially if the fetus is viable.

    The term rape is very misused here, and I find it offensive for women who have had to actually endure a rape.
    It happens more than you realize. And in situations that are NOT life and death.
  10. by   ThePrincessBride
    Birth trauma would be more appropriate. Calling it rape is offensive to those who've actually been raped.

    Otherwise, I am absolutely sure that this stuff happens all the time unfortunately.
  11. by   cayenne06
    Quote from ThePrincessBride
    Birth trauma would be more appropriate. Calling it rape is offensive to those who've actually been raped.

    Otherwise, I am absolutely sure that this stuff happens all the time unfortunately.
    Rape can happen on LDRP, but I agree that "trauma" is usually the more appropriate term. I have seen a doctor physically push a struggling, terrified woman onto her back and into stirrups as she begged to stay on her side while she pushed. I saw a midwife perform a vaginal exam on a teenager in labor, literally chasing her up the table as she tried to get away, and then topped it off by breaking her water without any warning or consent. It was MESSED UP. Egregious examples like that are thankfully rare, but I see a more subtle version all the time.

    Frequent and unnecessary vaginal exams and episiotomies, for example (yep, some docs still do them on the regular). I once encountered a midwifery preceptor who was having her students practice BREAST EXAMS on admit, for all women in labor. That practice stopped when it was brought to the attention of the director. That same preceptor once insisted that I perform a sterile speculum exam on a multip at 8cm, in order to confirm her SROM. I still feel awful for not refusing.
  12. by   xoemmylouox
    I don't believe "rape" is the term that should be used. Battery is more appropriate. They are using the term rape due to the feelings it brings about. I think it's awful that providers don't take the 10 seconds to explain "I'm putting my hand here because of...." " You're going to feel ..... because I have to do ....". It's awful and there isn't an excuse. Even when the life of the fetus/mother is at risk, you should take the time to explain what she is feeling.

  13. by   nutella
    I do think that some women face violations when giving birth - I am not sure that "rape" is the best term for it. "Rape" is a very powerful word and is associated with more than a specific act - there is a whole trauma around it - emotional and physical. On the other hand - "trauma" is so over - used that perhaps that would not bring the message across either.

    I experienced giving birth as a very violent act both times when I had my children including one emergency c - section in the end.
    The second delivery resulted in a long tear inside in addition to the cut outside - stitching up the inside was definitely not my most favorite experience....

    Here is some info from an organization that works on making childbirth "better":

    Childbirth | Ariadne Labs


    Do women have the right to self-determination? Yes - absolutely. But in the process of giving birth there is another human being (baby) involved and conflicting interests can arise. Because we are a litigious society, decisions are often also driven by the fear of litigation - which has resulted in an increase of c - sections for example.
    When I was in labor with my daughter things went difficult quickly in the end and there was definitely no time for them to explain to me in detail - the baby had to come out. I heard the midwife say that they had to cut and do this and that - but I really just thought about my daughter and that I wanted her to be ok. In my case I know that it was definitely necessary to go through this. I did not like how I was treated after the whole ordeal when they had problems to stitch up inside. Not that I would ever compare that to "rape" but it was definitely "violent" in itself.
  14. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to OB/GYN nursing

close