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Birth Trauma: One Reason I Became a Doula

Originally published at Sacred Pathways Doula Services. Please leave any comments there.

A recent article on The Fword, a contemporary UK online site, really hit home. Here is the link if you are curious: http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2008/03/not_a_happy_bir.Before I had read it I knew one of the reasons I started doing this work was to help mothers be fully informed about their decisions. To know that they had options that weren’t just the hospital, and that those options were just as safe. To talk about the common interventions, to explain how very easy it is to get lost in the system of the hospital and how to avoid becoming another mom on the conveyor belt of the machine.

When I had my son I was very lucky. I had a midwife who had done homebirths for years in her native country. She was revered for her knowledge and ability by both homebirth midwives in the area and other CNMs. Not only that but she trusted me and my body. I believe it is that trust that is lacking in many of the providers in modern day hospitals that lends greatly to Birth Trauma. All too often a woman cannot just be left to labor on her own, to let her body move, stretch, dilate, efface, and more on it’s own time. In a hospital everything has to be routine, has to be on the nose, ‘has to’ this and that. But birth doesn’t follow any hard and fast rule except that for most every birth, the baby comes out of the mother’s vagina eventually.

One way to avoid birth trauma is to hire a doula. For many a doula is not exactly a guardian, but a witness outside the family and the medical community who can speak up. They are a voice and eyes that belongs to neither patient, nor provider, who can put a pause in the machinery of hospital birth. That isn’t to say that birth trauma can’t still happen with a doula. I know that it can because some providers actually despise doulas and will kick them from the room if they get the chance. Or the doula will be utterly ignored as well as the mother. But thankfully, those providers are not common and most women who hire a doula find themselves with providers who are more trusting.

Still there are women out there who don’t have the resources or don’t even know about doulas who have horrible things happen to them on a daily basis. I’ve seen people say Birth Rape does not exist, how can it? There’s no sexual intent involved. But as the article linked about lays out, it doesn’t have to be about sex. Usually it is about power. And our providers, especially in a hospital, hold a lot of power…or at least that is what we have grown up thinking, feeling, and believing. And for many, that is all it takes to give in to order after order; “Hold your legs, don’t push like that!”, “You’re not dilating, I’m going to have to dilate you. Lay back now. Oh stop being a big baby.”, “This is what you get for trying to have a natural birth.”.

Food for thought…