Friday, December 11, 2009

Barbaric - and untold - aspect of vaginal delivery

This is an horrific story from China about an 18-year-old mother who was given more than 100 stitches - some without anaesthetic - at the birth of her first baby.

According to a China Press report, 'the woman was stitched up by a lady doctor and a trainee doctor after giving birth. However, a medical officer later removed the stitches, saying the wrong threads had been used. He then re-stitched her without anaesthetic.'

Even worse, another senior doctor then 'announced that the thread used by the medical officer was also the wrong one, requiring the woman to go through another process of having the stitches opened and closed again with the right thread.'

It happens in the UK too!
I heard about this happening in the UK some years ago, and in fact continue to be surprised how little attention it is given in the media. According to the Birth Trauma Association, vaginal stitching without anesthetic occurs 'quite often'.

That's true: Many women in the NHS are stitched up following a vaginal tear or episiotomy WITHOUT ANESTHETIC.

Indeed the Birth Trauma Association describes this wholly unnecessary and barbaric birth experience as 'a frequent complaint' by women.

Pregnancy and birth phobia
Unsurprisingly, the young Chinese woman (who 'also claimed that during the process, one of the doctors had accidentally injured her thigh causing her to suffer a three-inch cut') now says that she has a 'phobia about getting pregnant again'.

Birth phobia is often be described as irrational, as though a woman's fear of some of the terrible things that can happen during a vaginal delivery are just 'all in her head.' Well they're not - they're real - and if she wants to avoid even the chance of such terrible things happening to her, then in my opinion, her decision to do so is entirely rational.


Bonnie B Matheson said...

It is clear that you have a phobia about vaginal birth. I am sorry about that. Perhaps some education on the subject and talking to women who trust their bodies and trust birth might help you see that there is another side to this issue. For many women childbirth is an ecstatic experience. It is a triumph beyond description. It gives the woman confidence in a way that nothing else in the world can do. It is also an excellent start for the baby.
Of course there are some horror stories but most of them happen because of insensitive staff and ignorance on the part of those supposed to help the mother. Most Western doctors know almost nothing about a normal birth. They are constantly looking for trouble and because of all their interventions they often find it.
Please keep an open mind. Do not let people with a negative attitude toward birth influence you. Do your own research. Find people who have had positive experiences and mirror their attitude. Your beliefs create your reality.

cesarean debate said...

Bonnie, I am lucky; I have never had to deal with a phobia about vaginal delivery because I always planned to have a cesarean and enjoyed the support of a wonderful OBGYN who was happy with my decision to have surgery - right from the start of my pregnancy. However, there are women with tokophobia, and I don't believe that (for the vast majority) talking to other women who 'trust their bodies and trust birth' will make that phobia go away.

You say that childbirth: 'gives the woman confidence in a way that nothing else in the world can do.' I don't believe that this statement is necessarily true, and some might feel that it borders on offending women who have never had a child. In any case, childbirth can be an amazing experience whether it's a cesarean or a vaginal delivery; I would caution against advising that vaginal birth is in some way the superior delivery method.

You say: 'Your beliefs create your reality.' Again, I disagree with this statement. If this were true, then we would not see the vast numbers of women who suffer traumatic experiences following vaginal delivery - many of whom truly believed in themselves and their bodies. Mother Nature creates the reality in birth and medical intervention saves lives. When to intervene and how to intervene is obviously a subject for debate, but to inform women that their beliefs will create their reality is - in my opinion - unrealistic and potentially dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I was a hippy Mamma. I was all about the soothing and the breathing and the opening up like a flower. I was even brave through severe H.G. and dropping a few dress sizes and becoming so dehydrated I was hospitalised several times. Then I was almost four weeks late, I was induced, I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating through the pain alone. Birth is barbaric. My son almost died. I almost died. My clitoris was TORN IN TWO. All because of a ridiculous reaction against caesarean section. Having a tooth removed (something else I have suffered without pain relief) was a tenth of the pain of birth and yet not a person is expected to have teeth removed without medication. I am tired of hearing that birth is natural and that my body is designed for it. Death and cancer and dermoid cysts are also natural, and yet we have procedures to stave off and ease such things. Why are we still expected to suffer? That there is even a debate is demonstrative that women's health is still in the dark ages.