Today is International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in 1909. On this day of global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women, let us not forget the overlooked acts of violence against women that occur in hospitals under traditional medical management of pregnancy, birth and women’s health.
Please add to the list or share your experience by commenting. Once we are collectively willing to admit that unnecessary procedures on women constitute violence and violate a woman’s bodily integrity and sense of autonomy, systemic change can begin.
Performing unnecessary surgeries, procedures, inductions of labor, augmentations of labor and interventions on a laboring woman’s body is an act of violence against a woman.
Not letting a woman push until a doctor arrives is an act of violence against a woman.
Minimizing or ignoring a woman’s concerns is violence against a woman.
Creating unjustified concerns in the name of safety with the goal of coercing her into unnecessary surgery is an act of violence against a woman.
These allegations constitute violence against a woman.
Being too understaffed or just unwilling to provide one-on-one support for a laboring woman and instead encouraging her to submit to an epidural for comfort is an act of violence against a woman.
Being too understaffed or just unwilling to provide monitoring of a laboring woman’s fetal heart tones and instead tethering her to a bed for continuous electronic fetal monitoring is an act of violence against a woman.
Denying a laboring woman the freedom of movement is an act of violence against a woman.
Performing excessive vaginal exams in the name of good or defensive medicine is an act of violence against a woman.
Routine unnecessary episiotomies are violent to women.
Discouraging or denying a woman a vaginal birth after a cesarean in a hospital is an act of violence against a woman.
Subjecting pregnant women and their fetuses to experimental drugs without informing them that the risks to her and her fetus are yet unknown is an act of violence against a woman.
Promoting and propagating the myth that vaginal birth itself is a violent act against the fetus unless obstetric interventions are performed is violence against women of childbearing age and women of subsequent generations.
If you feel you were violated during pregnancy, labor or during the postpartum period, resources for help are available. Solace for Mothers is an excellent starting point.
Angie’s List now allows reviews of health care providers if you want to warn other women about your experiences or share about your care received.
If you’ve given birth within the last three years, take twenty minutes to fill out The Birth Survey, a grassroots transparency in maternity care project.
You are not alone. Please don’t stay silent.