Thursday, September 26, 2013


While I feel that the idea behind the Advocated 4 Survivors of Sexual Abuse committee and training session is a wonderful one, attention also needs to be paid to what women are being taught about labor and birth. Read the article below for the details:

In Say What You Mean, I discuss the power of semantics. So where does this paradigm begin? With what women are being taught about childbirth! It begins in pop culture. It begins in the grocery isle line. It begins in the hospital far more than it begins at home.

I'm not sure if these are the author's words or from the hospital/staff, but the article states,
The young mother-to-be screamed and tried to jump off the bed when doctors performed the frequent internal exams required during labor.
 Internal exams are NOT required for labor. It is her body and she doesn't need someone's estimated measurement of her cervix to tell her when to push; she'll know. Furthermore, a cervical exam can only tell a person a small bit about what's going on with a woman's labor; there are many other intricacies at play and she is best left alone.

An article in Midwifery Today states, "What a contraction is doing is always ahead of what a cervix is telling." 

Women are frequently inclined to ask "what am I at?" "How much more to go?" This is a sign of working from the head, when in labor it is best to be within ourselves, allowing our bodies and babies to work together in this intimate dance. 

A good care provider will stand from afar and observe the woman in labor and allow her body, actions, sounds and urges to tell when it is time to push, not the measure of her cervix.

Cervical exams can actually hinder labor, especially in a "patient" who has been sexually abused. In the article this is noted, so why should the chance of labor stalling be increased and the mother feel assaulted? This should not be and that is why any woman can decline cervical exams and probably should do so.

It is also stated in the article
Logically you know it's for the baby, but when you're assaulted and violated so many times, it's not a feeling you want to be feeling,
she said. referring to a survivor. 

Where did this woman learn this concept? Especially being a survivor I would hope that her care provider would provide her with more education to know that there are actually more risks associated with cervical checks, such as maternal infection, and no known benefits to mother or baby, and help her learn to turn inward, trusting her body. More often than not, a survivor will prefer to labor with an epidural because the pains of labor can be overwhelming; even with this intervention, it would most benefit the mother if she gave consent to exams and they were not done so routinely. As you may understand by now, routine exams are not in best interest of the mother according to Western Journal of Medicine.

What is your experience with vaginal exams?

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