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"I was violated, degraded and butchered."
"So many people know the truth but no one told me what to expect"
"They made me feel like the enemy. I had no rights. That hospital was my Abu Ghraib."
"I was afraid to say anything negative lest they be even nastier"
"I change my baby's diapers and then I change my own. I'm 23 years old."
"Childbirth is a natural event. So are death and earthquakes."
"I was raped as a teenager. My vaginal delivery was worse."
"I left the hospital in disgust and without any sleep for four days."
"The real reason for low birth rates? Birth trauma, lack of recognition of and respect for maternal self-determination and autonomy and fear of financial hardship while raising children."
"My husband put pictures of me in the delivery room online without my permission or knowledge"
"My beautiful baby will be my last. I will not subject myself to that again"
"Humans are so brave when they aren't the ones who are suffering"
"What is the difference between an L/D/R unit and a torture chamber?" Aside from the obvious precious baby not much."
"Thank you for calling a spade a spade. Our precious, confident, gentle daughter committed suicide after the birth of her son. She did not have any factors that would predispose her to suicide. This is what they said to explain things and make her look weak and unstable. Tragic blame the victim mentality. Her experience was so damaging that she could see no other way out. The medical community dismissed her trauma symptoms as 'just the baby blues' and she never talked to anyone about it again. And we, her family who should have supported her, to our eternal shame trivialized and dismissed them as well. Canada doesn't recognize this terrible fact in their maternal mortality statistics and it is high time we recognized how damaging bringing new life into this world can be to the mother."
"Please warn other women that they will meet more sanctimonious tyrants than they ever thought possible from the moment they make their pregnancy known."
Somewhere between the arm up what was left of her vagina but before they finished with the surgery she died. It was a murder and a suicide. She died in stirrups with a room full of people looking between her legs and a nurse with a sing-song voice telling her how lucky she was. It was humanly impossible for her to survive. I am just her shell."
"Throughout my labour, delivery and recovery (and in hindsight my prenatal courses) I was inundated with fully clothed people who had no injuries or suffering trying to convince me that it wasn't that bad. What kind of person can perpetuate that up is down, faux sunshine mentality in the face of such trauma? They are either profoundly stupid or very evil. I don't think you get through medical school as either a doctor or a nurse if you are that stupid. That only leaves evil. My husband played the same game. Monkey see, Monkey do but his excuse is stupid."
"I was shamed and scolded and made to feel like a failure for screaming in agony. It is a special kind of cruel when humans can remain insensitive and unaffected during someone else's suffering but when you can add bullying to that mix you take barbaric behaviour to an all new low."
"I was robbed of my dignity, my humanity, my confidence and my capacity for enthusiasm."
"Please tell women that their ordeal doesn't end with the eventual birth of their baby like you see on T.V. The reality is much, much worse. Your horror is only just beginning."
"It wasn't support, advocacy or kindness. It was bullying, coercion and encouragement to suffer more all done in a honeyed voice. Those two things aren't even close"
"Downplay. Lie. Whitewash. Dismiss. Spin. Ignore. Deny. It's a wicked mind game they play with your head. You learn to play along because if you don't the stigmatization will make your life even worse."
"We weren't pregnant: I was.
We didn't have a baby: I did.
Why the hell is it so hard for a society to give women credit when credit is due?"
"I've been having duty sex for the last four years. I am physically unable to have orgasms ever since the birth of my daughter."
"I keep going because my baby needs me and because I believe time will make the nightmares go away."
"The memories are a continuous loop that I struggle to control and no one else knows about. Being stigmatized would only make it worse. No matter how hard I struggle I can't stop the nightmares."
"It's really not that bad, they say. But it was. I was expected to be a martyr. I don't even like martyrs."
"I want women to know that some hospitals can routinely do planned uncomplicated cesareans with no operative pain, little or no post operative pain, no infection, no surgical complications and short recovery times. And some can't. I had one that didn't and the pain was unbearable. Maybe someday I can talk about it but not now. It's too soon and it's too raw."
"Did you know that some surgeons actually take your uterus out of your body and put it on your abdomen during a cesarean? I always wondered what that claustrophobia inducing screen was for."
"My husband doesn't find me sexually attractive now. The sights, sounds and smells of the delivery and aftermath coupled with how I look now left him cold. He hasn't said anything; he knows that wouldn't be correct but he doesn't have to. I speak fluent body language."
"I was assaulted by the message that my experience would be a great experience when the pain was severe and the damage extensive. It was infantilizing. It was a sinister, victim blaming cult."
"I don't know how long it took before sex wasn't painful because I haven't tried it yet. The thought of it reminds me of delivery and the re-constructive surgery. I can't bear any more violation. I can't even stand to be touched. I can't get those images out of my mind. They haunt me day after day and I'm afraid to go to sleep at night because they haunt me at night. "
"I looked at my genitals in a mirror when I got home from the hospital and immediately felt sick and faint. It did explain why ibuprofen and ice packs weren't doing anything for the pain. My prenatal course didn't prepare me for how much destruction happens."
" My genitals are grotesque. The labia are huge and floppy and parts of them fused together where they shouldn't. I can't wear blue jeans anymore because they chafe and they get in the way of putting a tampon in. I have little flaps of flesh sticking out where the lacerations that weren't sutured healed asymmetrically. There are scar tissue ridges and the opening to my vagina gapes. I'm so ashamed of how hideous I look. Sex is always with the lights out now. Now I understand why women say 'not tonight dear, I have a headache'. The doctor just shrugged and called it 'normal sequelae' and pointed out that if I was that vain I could get cosmetic surgery. More surgery is the last thing I could deal with."
"I wanted a vaginal delivery to avoid surgery. That was a load of crap."
"I avoid doctors, nurses and hospitals unless there is no possible way to avoid them. My defensive radar goes up and I need to psyche myself up for days before I can stomach the prospect."
"I couldn't think or concentrate. I needed to withdraw and be alone with just my baby. It was like being in a never-ending B grade zombie movie and I was the reluctant star."
"I was in shock. The full horror takes a couple of days to start to sink in."
"I keep wondering what horrible things were done to me during the times I have no memory. The midwife tells me I'm better off not knowing and that I would forget all about it in a few weeks. I feel re-traumatized by that attitude and told her so."
"There are many things in life that can't be fixed with an apology and regrets."
"It was actually my dentist who recognized and acknowledged my PTSD. My dental exam showed cracks in my teeth consistent with night grinding and stress. This lovely woman took me aside and asked if I was a mother. She told me she has the same problem since her baby was born."
"My husband had one of them by the collar and was suspending them about two feet off the ground. They stopped denying an epidural right after that. He wasn't very popular with the staff but he is my hero."
"The hospital was noisy, busy, overcrowded, short staffed, chaotic and there was no privacy. There were women in the hallways. I had no control over who walked in and who watched me. None of the conversations were private. It wasn't just medical staff that walked in on you. It was other peoples husbands and janitors."
"When you dismiss the realities of childbirth you dismiss women."
"You can blame them for disregarding maternal experience. You can blame them for deliberately denying real informed consent. You can blame them for dismissing the short and long term psychological and physical repercussions and you can blame them for their irrational positivity because they do all those things, but you can't blame them for human evolution. It's a large head through a small area over major nerves. It is impossible to give birth vaginally without extensive short and long term damage to the genital tract and pelvic floor, especially if it is your first baby. That is reality. Childbirth is a dangerous business. We need to remember the time before medical interventions and recall the maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Our large brains and the ability to walk upright allow us remarkable progress as a species but there is a cost. That cost is the sole burden of the human female during childbirth and every woman should understand that before getting pregnant."
"Natural childbirth is just as barbaric as the scopolamine regimen of old. Pretending it isn't so doesn't make it so."
"Vaginal deliveries are just sanctioned female genital mutilation".
"Women should know that Kegel exercises will restore some of the profound initial damage done to your pelvic floor but they never, no matter how many you do or how long you do them, restore you to your normal condition. They can be very effective at restoring pelvic floor function caused by pregnancy itself."
"I use alcohol to cope. It is readily available and you don't need to see a doctor to get it. It takes the edge off my stress and makes me feel happy. I know how much I can drink without appearing drunk and I know better than to tell anyone to avoid being ostracized."
"If there is a next one it will be a planned cesarean.""Tell the lactation gestapo whatever they expect to hear and they will leave you alone."
"I read William's Obsetrics [Cunningham, Leveno et al McGraw-Hill] and Ever Since I Had My Baby: Understanding, Treating and Preventing the Most Common Physical Aftereffects of Pregnancy and Childbirth [ Roger Goldberg, Three Rivers Press, 2003] after I had my baby. I should have read it before."
"I've told every young woman I know about your web-site."
"I was pushed beyond what was humanly possible. Everyone expected super human things from me but I'm just human. They kept telling me I was amazing, just a little longer, suffer some more, breastfeed some more, what a good wife, what a good mother. They pushed such high, unrealistic expectations on me and I crashed and burned. Now everyone treats me like a failure. Tsk-Tsk, there goes ******. She is too weak. She needs happy pills."
"I've been on anti-anxiety medication since my baby was born three years ago. Not once did anyone mention PTSD to me."
"Don't get me wrong. I am overjoyed at the safe arrival of my daughter. I am so in love with her but her birth was not joyful or empowering like I was told it would be. It was more violent and disturbing than anything Quentin Tarantino could dream up. I was told the joy would cancel out the terror but that is wrong. I'm a good multi-tasker and I haven't met a mother who wasn't."
"Fighting was useless. I was ridiculed or ignored if I tried. Flight was impossible. All I had left was Freeze."
"While working on my birth plan my midwife threw her pen across the room and told me I had a 'perverse' need to control my life. I sat there stunned. She immediately realized what she said and told me she didn't mean it that way. What other way is there to interpret that? I walked out. I thought women had already fought that battle and won."
"My birth plan was a huge waste of paper and my time"
"Mother bashing is a popular cultural past time. Until you become pregnant you don't appreciate how badly society treats you. Everyone has an opinion and no matter what you do there is always someone who will tell you you are doing it wrong"
"My husband has nightmares too."
"It is not irrational to fear childbirth. It is irrational not to fear childbirth."
"I was told I had a 'text book' delivery. When I commented that their textbook must have been written by the Marquis de Sade everyone thought that was funny. Even the prick I married laughed."
"Can you imagine any other medical specialty finding it acceptable, even necessary, for their patients to suffer? How about a burn unit that denied adequate pain relief? How about a cardiologist who refuses to treat patients over 60 because aging is a natural biological process? Is there any other specialty where patients are expected to come out of the experience in worse shape than they started and that would be acceptable?"
"My life now is one of diminished existence and forced stoicism."
"He had birth videos in his porn collection. There was no second date I can assure you."
"I felt traumatized and depressed because it was traumatizing and depressing. Such a simple concept I can't understand how they can say they don't know what causes psychological problems after childbirth."
“I worry about everything. I trust no one. I didn’t use to be this way. I want to go back to being naïve enough not to see life’s dangers and not to know how evil and cruel humans can be.”
“There were several people watching me deliver my baby. None of them had my permission to be there. My birth plan specifically stated I didn’t want voyeurs. I was so out of it I couldn’t recognise faces but I was aware they were there. Some of them were screaming at me and some of them were just watching passively. They could recognize me walking down the street but I couldn’t recognize them. That is what most of my nightmares are about.”
“I sat on a doughnut ring for weeks. Everyone laughed at me. I can’t stop crying.”
“I am so sick of the condescending bullshit”
“I was promised an epidural by my obstetrician but I was denied this by the labour nurses. What I got was someone who showed up with lavender oil and flute music who talked to me like I was a five year old. She told me all I needed was to have my feet rubbed. I can’t go into a perfume department or music store anymore without experiencing a panic attack. My world shrinks and gets black and I can’t breathe.”
“My labour killed my baby. He was moving when I arrived at the hospital. The autopsy showed no reason for his death. He seemed perfectly normal when I held him. He just looked like he was sleeping.”
“I read your website and recognized myself immediately”
“Medical ‘experts’ have been so wrong so often and for so long they no longer have any credibility to me. I’m 7 months along with my second and I’m freebirthing this baby – no midwives, no vaginal manipulations, no doctors, no nurses, no hospitals, no medical students, no prenatal abuse, no snotty ultrasound technicians. Just me. I’m in charge. No one will hurt me again.”
“I could feel every stitch and pull. It was terrible. I was screaming. The nurse told me to shut up and it was all in my head”
“If men or children had their genitals ripped apart and then sewn back together again would society consider that normal and healthy? Would any procedure that left them with the risk that they wouldn’t be able to control basic functions like urination and defecation be considered normal and healthy? Would leaving a man unable to enjoy sex ever be considered an acceptable natural, physiological event?”
“They told me I wasn’t told the truth because they didn’t want to scare me. Apparently setting me up for a lifetime of health problems and re-occurring bouts of depression and nightmares don’t bother them though.”
“I was indoctrinated to believe vaginal birth was normal and healthy. My mother begged me not to believe this and I did something than I truly regret and am very ashamed of. It wasn’t the first time I hurt her either. I told her to shut up and get out of my life which she quietly did. I learned the hard way that she was right. She was the only one who would tell me the truth and she was the only one who gave a damn about me but I chose to believe the ‘experts’ instead because I believed they had my best interests at heart. Women should know that they don’t. You will not be valued for anything more than your reproductive value. Never trust anyone whose job depends on your suffering.”
“I remember the birth of my child as equal
parts misogyny and sadism.”
"My emergency caeserian birth
experience can only be equated with the disemboweling tortures
performed during the middle ages.
The General Anaesthetic didn't work properly. But they needed to get my baby out fast. So they started cutting. I felt every cut. Every incision. Even when they pulled my uterus open.”
“I felt nothing for my baby after she was
born. I was just so distraught and
miserable. I didn’t even trust that she
was really mine. I am so ashamed to
admit this because I had wanted her arrival so badly. Thank you for telling me about PTSD.”
“Two nurses held me down while I screamed and the resident doctor gave me an extremely painful pelvic examination. I was yelling NO but no doesn’t mean no when you are pregnant. The two nurses were talking about paint colours for a new living room re-decorating. Surreal. The banality of evil.”
“I know I was exhausted. I had given up. They were yelling at me and very angry but it was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope for me. I could see their angry faces but I couldn’t make out the words they were saying. One of them slapped me hard across the face. The only sound that was clear to me was my husband vomiting. I have no clear memory of my baby being born.”
“I have walked through fire and survived. I see the world more clearly now and it is an ugly place.”
“He was sweet Dr. Jekyll during the pre-natal visit but as soon as labour progressed he turned into Mr. Hyde.”
“I learned that cultural forces dictate how obstetrics are handled and that these attitudes vary from culture to culture and country to country. I’ve had children in two cultures – my first in a private hospital in Italy and the second in Canada. The obstetrical culture was so different in each country. I was treated better and I had more rights in Italy.”
“I learned too late that my husband values my reproductive potential more than he values me.”
"If I stay very, very busy during the day I can keep the intrusive memories at bay. Nothing keeps the nightmares away when I want to get to sleep. I am up every hour or hour and a half, drenched in sweat. It takes me about 12 or 13 hours to get 8 hours of sleep. People think I am lazy because I sleep so much during the day but I can't help it. It is the only way I can get enough sleep."
"My midwife told me that a second baby would be a better experience. What the hell good does that do me right now?"
"I sat and cried for hours while reading your website. I was so glad I was home alone. Finally, someone who gets it. Thank you, thank you , thank you for your honesty and letting me know I'm not crazy or isolated."
"Mine is one more horror story."
"Rewarding? Positive? I believed this propaganda until I actually gave birth. In retrospect I believe the midwife collection that attended my labour and delivery were just a collection of women too stupid to know they are stupid."
"Why don't women matter? You would never see the same sort of cruelty to patients in other medical specialties. They are still medieval. Why do they resist advancement? They like being cruel to women? It is the only explanation I can see."
"I don't want to go to sleep right now. I don't want to be haunted by images of my birth rape."