Traumatic Birth Part 3

According to Cheryl Tatano Beck, traumatic birth is defined as “an event occurring during the labor and delivery process that involves actual or threatened serious injury or death to the mother  or her infant. The birthing woman experiences intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and horror” she had later revised that statement to include the woman feeling stripped of her dignity.

c-Section

What is the cause of women perceiving their birth experience as traumatic? It is the systemic elimination of protective care during the birthing process.

In Beck’s study of 40 women she says that there were four themes that emerged. Theme #1 was to care for the women and treating them as human beings. Theme #2: Lack of Communication.  Theme #3 was safety. Theme #4: The ends will justify the means.

With theme #1 women feeling they were objectified, and treated arrogantly and with a lack of empathy. The women were left alone, and abandoned. The birthing mother’s needs were not met by the hospital staff. An example given was of a woman from Puerto Rico who was on all fours, when a nurse brought in 20 students to observe…without her consent.

In theme #2 no one communicated with the woman in labor. They were described as having conversations with one another within earshot but not directly talking with or to the laboring mother. As if she were non-existent.

In the third theme the laboring mothers felt that the staff (nurses and doctors) did not adequately deliver safe care. The mothers were not being allowed input into the care being given for their own selves and actually fearing for their own and / or the infant’s life!

In theme #4 entailed the sense that what was endured and experienced by the mothers was the sense of being “pushed to the background” as everyone around them were celebrating the baby’s healthy birth. These women felt invisible, only the infant mattered.

The experiences mothers have had led to severe post-partum trauma and depression.  Beck, Driscoll, and Watson’s book Traumatic Birth goes into detail about feedback loops [pp. 10-12] that describe the interaction of the mother and child after a traumatic birth, with a listing of the causes and consequences of the cause. Sometimes even breastfeeding is difficult, creating “…intruding flashbacks, disturbing detachments with their infants, feeling violated, enduring physical pain, and insufficient milk supply…” Often the anniversary of a traumatic birth amplifies the feedback loop.

My own reaction to the shared experiences the women in this book had illustrated the barbarism of western medical professionals, a barbarism that is completely contrary to those principles I listed from the ACOG website in part #2.

The women who tell their story of childbirth weave an astounding sense of personal alienation.  It is no wonder that there is PTSD, depression, self-destructive behaviors, socially isolationist behaviors and pelvic floor injuries as a result of the improper calloused form of care received. Many of the women feel as though they were raped, yet most had no “history of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse” so birth precipitated  a sense of having “the loss of the soul”.

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Traumatic Birth Part 2

What can you do to prevent problems in labor, and miscommunication with your doctor? My recommendation is to follow the recommended diet, exercise, drink a lot of water, and attend to the prenatal visits.

Never be afraid to ask questions! Why a certain test is being done, what does that word mean, etc. Some things I can assist you with during the Childbirth Education coursework…but asking the questions of your doctor is important. You get to know your doctor, and he/she can get to know you.

Your right as a patient is to have any procedure or test explained by your doctor. Is the particular procedure / test done because it is required? Who requires it? Why is it required? Is it because of doctor concern? What precipitated that concern?

Your doctor is not GOD.

this baby was born by c-section
Image by: Huffington Post

It is especially true when you are in labor. SOMEONE, your husband / mother / Doula can be present, and act in your behalf. You can also construct a birth plan, have it placed in your chart…but it’s not always honored.

If the doctor is not responding to your questions or you are not comfortable with the explanation / or attitude of the doctor you still can address the issue. Sometimes just a rewording of your question is helpful.  If still you are not being listened to, the following outlines your rights…

HIPPA law outlines a patient’s rights:

To Clear Communication

The AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics clearly states that it is a fundamental ethical requirement that a physician should at all times deal honestly and openly with patients. Patients have a right to know their past and present medical status and to be free of any mistaken beliefs concerning their conditions.
[https://www.emedicinehealth.com/patient_rights/article_em.htm#communication ]

To Informed Consent

Informed consent involves the patient’s understanding of the following:

  • What the doctor is proposing to do
  • Whether the doctor’s proposal is a minor procedure or major surgery
  • The nature and purpose of the treatment
  • Intended effects versus possible side effects
  • The risks and anticipated benefits involved
  • All reasonable alternatives including risks and possible benefits.

[Informed Consent]


Within the perimeters of informed consent, the doctor ethically understands the responsibility of:

  • The patient being told what the doctor is going to do
  • That the patient is helped to understand the medical implications
  • Whether it is a minor or major procedure
  • The risks and benefits
  • Alternatives with the information about risks and benefits


The patient rights also include:

  • Freedom from force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion
  • The right to refuse or withdraw without influencing the patient’s future healthcare
  • The right to ask questions and to negotiate aspects of treatment

This is hardly possible while in full labor. Informed consent implies that information is given, which would be hard to process while in labor.

Traumatic Birth Part 1

Many things come up during the labor and birthing of a baby. These may or may not be emergency-level events. A woman in labor is focused on the process they are involved in: birth. The woman may not be aware of what is discussed around them, or the things happening that may alter their ideals of the “perfect”  birth.

doula at work

Here are some things that may occur:

  • Slow dilation of the cervix
  • Labor stalling
  • Movement of the baby stops
  • Blood pressure of the mother rises

Often doctors in the hospital will want to intervene. The remedies may be interventions that you really do not need.

These interventions could possibly be:

  • Monitors
  • IV insertion
  • Inducing labor (Pitocin)
  • Or even the decision to have a c-Section (read my blog post on this here: )

The first two can be alleviated by using gravity (walking, dancing, leaning forward onto the labor bed with feet on the floor and doing squats). Usually stressors or nervousness are the cause. With Labor stalling, if already dilated 6-7cm, it could very well be a natural stall while going into the next stage of labor.

Remember: Babies are birthed when they are READY. Not on some sort of perceived time schedule.

If the baby stops movement, inform your doctor. You can use “kick counts” as a method to monitor movements if you are concerned. In active labor, the baby tends to move in a spiral as baby moves into birthing position.

Blood pressure issues could be gestational diabetes, or just stress. The cause needs to be found. bvcIt is a symptom of pre-eclampsia but if you were not having signs of this condition and diagnosed in pregnancy (which is why prenatal visits are essential) then it may be something else. Here is suggested reading for you to understand the seriousness of this condition: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Preeclampsia-and-High-Blood-Pressure-During-Pregnancy

So now we move onto the second part of this discussion.

A Good Question

What needs to happen, in order to fix a broken system? Your probably wondering what I mean by a broken system. I am talking about the care of women, and especially birthing.

In a nation that has been considered “advanced” we are so far behind the eight-ball that it becomes shameful. Our c-Section rates were seriously through-the-roof, and although some improvement has been made, the United States is still higher than most “civilized” countries! The average being around 31%.

Along  with that outrageous number of c-Sections are the ever-climbing mortality rates of women in birth, predominately women of color. This is shameful in a country that is supposed to be “advanced”!

On top of both high c-Section rates, and high mortality rates for birthing, is the across-the-racial-board birth trauma. It should NEVER happen! But, we have nurses and doctors who force women into procedures, who intimidate and threaten.

The media (film and television) makes it seem that birth is both dangerous and extremely painful. When that consciousness is embedded in the psyche of women, and you have a medical field that relies on mechanical means to monitor births… the stage is set. We have normalized bad birthing practices, and outdated concepts about birth.

That is without discussing the current political scenarios.

The next few blogs will address the history behind, and the current information about birthing in the United States. The outdated concepts surrounding birth practices need debunking. The normalization of bad birthing practices needs to have a light shown upon it, in order to make it STOP.

It is time to become educated,

get angry,

and create a change!

NOTE: I am still doing research, the next two topics are valuable as well, and allows me time to get things done.

Also published at my sister site: Hoksiyuhab Oti