“I allowed the medical students and midwifery students to watch my birth - they were respectful and asked permission. I felt it was important for them to witness an active birth with respectful attendants. I also had a birth plan, so when the bossy nurse in charge of the Labour and Delivery unit popped her head in and started telling me to be quiet and breathe properly when I was grunting through intense contractions, she was politely asked to leave by my OB/Gyn who told her this was the way I wanted to do it.”
“After a few more attempts of pushing, it didn't seem as though she was coming down. Without warning, explanation or CONSENT he had BOTH hands in me "assisting" Twin B. I freaked out! Begging him to stop, I asked what he was doing, telling him to stop and that it was hurting so bad (I didn't get a top up, I had no epidural so I felt EVERYTHING) He was ripping me down, he used forceps and the suction twice. I only know this because I heard him say it. At one point I just physically broke. The doctor was literally yanking at what felt like my lifeless body on that table. My husband continued asking what the issue was and what was happening where he was met with silence.”
“I rushed to hospital where they immediately put me in the birthing room, I was told not to moan or “yell”. I wasn’t even swearing, just a nice cow-like moan. The nurse told me I was scaring and stressing everyone out as if they were the ones in labour.“
“Modern obstetrics is rife with condescension, medical paternalism, and misogyny. Sometimes it's subtle, and sometimes it's not. Take these examples pulled directly from the website of a well-regarded downtown teaching hospital in Toronto, Ontario:
’Remaining in control of yourself and your fear is the one major way for you to help your labour along. Let the doctors worry about any abnormalities and, if none have so far been discussed with you, rely on their care for you and your baby. You are there to breathe and cope and push the baby out when the time comes.’”
“I was told I had to hold my baby in my arms all night after not sleeping for 48 hours as she had a lot of mucous. I told the nurse I wasn’t comfortable with it fearing I’d fall asleep and she’d roll into the blankets and potentially suffocate. I was told I didn’t have an option. They propped me up with pillows and laid her in my arms for the night. Fast forward over a year later, I was still waking up almost every night frantically checking the blankets for my daughter (who had never slept in our bed). I even had a night where I begged my husband to check the bed to make sure she wasn’t there even though she was in my arms”
“We need to feel comfortable saying “Stop!” when we see cervical checks without consent. Our clients should be the ones to advocate for themselves whenever possible, but there are times when they can’t and we must.”
“As a Catholic teaching hospital, the cultural aversion to informed consent and bodily autonomy in your childbirth unit makes sense, however, some patients raised this culture as an area of concern in the feedback survey. You shared in your letter that you are “continuing to seek learning opportunities that expand care providers’ understanding of what obstetrical [sic] violence is and ways we can ensure patients don’t experience this under our care” In the meeting it was stated that “ideally we need to embed it into some standardized classes” but you were not able to speak to whether “obstetric violence” or “patient mistreatment” are terms that had come up at all yet, even in less formal conversations and huddles on the unit.
However, you expressed with certainty that there have still been no formalized discussions or training around what constitutes obstetric violence, and how to interrupt the cycle of obstetric violence in your Family Birthing Centre. It was also unclear whether the experiences of abuse and mistreatment some patients shared in their survey responses have been addressed in a comprehensive way.”
“I was, and am, resolute in my decision to never have children, I know other people seeking reproductive care have experienced far more overt attempts at manipulation, but from this experience, I am still more guarded and defiant with health care providers.”
"I don't remember how it happened but next she spoke as if the test was just a formality, as if I already had gestational diabetes and the baby was already suffering.
My husband tried talking to her, explaining there are better ways to list out the risks than saying my baby will die. Her response was she was "just doing her job." He tried talking to her more than once but she always blamed my anxiety and her need to do her job."
"I was a single pregnant female without a phone or anyone around to help. [...] I legit thought this evening I was going to die. I honestly felt it was the end and they didn't even help me to the bathroom."
"I was too afraid to file a complaint because she implied that she could come after me. I didn’t know how or for what reason but I was so scared of her that I didn’t say anything until my son was 18 months and I was back at work. I realized that there’s nothing she could do, and I filed a complaint with the hospital."
"a trend began to emerge that bothered me. While speaking to women of colour, especially those whose first language was not English, I found that they reported having much less choice in how they were treated by their doctors than I did."
"The OB said they might as well deliver her by forceps now, and said out loud "let's give this baby a little more room, shall we", and I heard and felt the scissors cut into me as he gave me an episiotomy."