When Childbirth Feels like Assault
Family Resemblance
35126

Thank you for this story. It needed to be told.

I too, was ‘assaulted’ by a medical doctor who ignored my request for a vaginal birth. When I was told, “He would only perform a c-section.” and “If I were uncomfortable with him examining me I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant.” I knew I had a problem. I tried to get a new doctor, but had no luck. It was SC and I was just another poor, pregnant black girl.

No one would take me — I was too pregnant and underinsured. Plus, my doctor was on-call at every local hospital. Avoiding him would be nearly impossible if I went to a hospital. My choices: I could either decline medical treatment or consent to a c-section. I cried. I felt so hopeless. Too naive and scared to push back harder, I was forced into a scheduled c-section. This decision would impact future pregnancies and my self-esteem for years.

Because of my experience, I became more involved in my health decisions, wrote birth plans and delivered them 2 months before my due date, and avoided going to the hospital until I was absolutely sure I was in labor. I knew that, even with a birth plan, an on-call doctor may still do what they want instead…

I spent approximately 90 minutes in the delivery room for my last child— on purpose. I wanted a natural, Vaginal-after-a-cesarean birth, and I knew I could not trust the medical establishment to let me have one. So I waited until I knew I was too dilated for them to give me an epidural.

The day came. As the nurse dismissed my calm assertion that I was in labor, my daughter was halfway through the birth canal. When she finally gave me a bed and examined, she saw how far along I was, and gasped in shock, running off to call an anesthesiologist and a doctor.

“It’s okay, I already called my midwife, she’ll be here any minute.”

I had won. I birthed my way.

Making sure I wasn’t cut open against my will (again)was more challenging than labor itself.