I Remember This… This is Rape

Rape“I had my membranes stripped WHILE in labor at my midwives office.

…my husband .. bore witness … the nurses heard my screaming from the hallway.

I went back to speak to her in an attempt to move on. But with a straight face she said “I never heard you say stop”….

All of this, my whole career path, was forged in that moment. The moment someone had their hand in my vagina and wouldn’t take it out.

This piece was inspired by the signs I have been seeing. The blood is fake (watercolors) but the pain is still very real.”

Thank you to a Birth Anarchy reader from Schenectady, NY for sharing her story and her art with me.

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  1. Mari Patkelly says

    This is very heavy stuff and the likes of it has been going on forever it seems and surely for the last 5000 years, at least – worldwide …. Oh the things I have seen and the stories I have told and written….
    Thank you brave women for having this site and continuing to speak out via it by writing and publishing the truth about our lives. Our experiences have be hidden for too long, cover up is now and has been one of the most embedded rules of life for women and we need to Open Up and get talking about these realities again – at least with each other – NOW! Using the systems that use power over exclusively has many “tricky” dangers and so maybe we need to create new/old ways to try to keep ourselves as whole as possible in this terribly fractured world…
    Patriarchy is not simply created by and kept in place by men,, women have been keeping it going too! We do that in a variety of ways including the horrifying way that has been shared in this example …
    Not being heard, and being abused is now and has been rampant for babies, girls, women, and other “underlings” each day of our lives….. because “power over” rules our planet while “power from within and power with” seem to be withering away more and more ….

  2. holly says

    Thank you so much for sharing ….I also remember…..I also am starting to heal through art thank you so much for posting sharing and not staying silent your voice helps me find mine thank you

  3. Jaymie says

    I had my membranes stripped twice. I felt so completely violated. It went against my intervention-free birth plan, but I felt like I had to. The baby was thought to be late and I felt threatened by the impending release of care and hospital birth. Turns out, I didn’t have to.

  4. Nikki Kamminga says

    Although my midwife at the birth was great (I kept saying, actually I’m ok with the pain, carry on) it was my home visiting mw who assaulted me. Day two after returning from the hospital, I had seen a lactation consultant and was topping up to a strict schedule, pumping, trying to feed, hand expressing to make a little milk to give my daughter a taste. The midwife who had told me at 8 weeks pregnant “No, you won’t be able to breastfeed” took hold of my nipple in front of my new baby girl and painfully yanked it, not only not getting milk and making me feel like a failure but causing so much deep pain and bruising I couldn’t hand express that side for hours. I showed her, on the other side, how only certain of the ducts worked due to three reconstructive surgeries, and had to be gently moved in a certain way. I felt violated and sad and she never apologised. I told no one and refused to see her again.

    It does remind me of abuse I suffered as a child and when I was raped in my early 20’s.

    • Profile photo of Kathi Valeii says

      Nikki, I’m really sorry for what you endured. And thank you for sharing your story, here. I think it’s really important for the many women who have suffered assault both in the obstetric setting and elsewhere to share their feelings and similarities. Not that we need others to legitimize our experiences, but for those who have been told about their birth rape, “that’s not real rape,” stories like yours may help them own their experiences and find their voices. Anytime a woman feels violated or abused, it is, indeed, assault.

  5. says

    I had no idea that any of this was even a thing, no one has ever spoken about it. To all you brave women here I am so proud of you for speaking out on the subject and opening up my eyes to it.

  6. Jill says

    I understand completely! I went into labor (my 4th baby) & went to my birth center. An assistant (who I only met 1 time before & was completely unfamiliar with) was left in charge by my paid midwife, while she just watched & took pictures. For the 12 hours I was there, the assistant kept putting her hand inside me. I would yell at her to get out of me & she kept her hand there the entire time….even when I was pushing!!! Every single picture (that my midwife took, instead of taking care of me) shows her hand inside me. Needless to say, the baby moved out of position (which I feel was due to her keeping her hand there causing an obstruction to him moving down) & after pushing for 3 hours (still with her hand inside me!), I was transferred to the hospital, where I ended up needing a c-section. I am sooo saddened by this traumatic experience. I actually thought of becoming a midwife because I had such a great waterbirth with my 3rd baby! Now, I’m just broken. My last baby & my experience was destroyed by a stranger who violated me & my baby. (Baby & I both suffered infection & needed antibiotics from her consistently putting her hand in & out of me.) When I told my midwife I felt violated & ignored, she told me that she “…had no idea why my birth experience was so bad & that she wished that it would have been better for me & that she is sure that I did all I could, but, things happen.” Broken. Just broken from it all!

  7. Theresa says

    When I went into labor, I went to my ob’s office to be checked. My ob is a delightful old italian man that I absolutely adore. Instead of seeing him, a midwife who occasionally helps him, saw me. She checked my dilation and then “helped to stretch me a bit” by forcefully shoving her fingers inside of my cervix. I repeatedly told her to stop. She said she knew I was uncomfortable but that I would thank her later. I hate that woman. In my mind, it was much worse than when I was raped years ago.

    • Viv says

      I am so sorry this happened to you. UGH I wish the all the bad stories here had an end resulting in justice for all who have been hurt. It is absolutely egregious.

  8. susan says

    I used both MDs and a midwife in my last birth and on one of my last visits, probably 1 week post due date (my kids lied the +3 week model!) the female physician started stripping my membranes without asking and when I inquired what she was doing I told her to STOP and she did. I was appalled. My understanding is that all 3 women in that practive had given birth by C section so I guess intervention was no big deal to her. When I visited the last time, I saw the male physician, Todd, whose wife had just given birth and so he KNEW who did the work, and it wasn’t the Doc! He said, “Go home and have that baby!” and sure enough, I did! Called him 3 days later and told him I had a healthy baby girl in my lap and we were considering naming her Toddrica! Lucky for that girl, we didn’t…and lucky for her, she had a beautiful home birth at which her 20 month old brother woke just as she was born. He looked at the baby, mom and dad, midwife and dear friend midwife’s assisatant and declared “Baby home!” She sure was! But if that first doc had had her way, because of the interventive birth trauma she was used to, that might not have been the case. Blessed be those who believe in mothers’ ability to birth!!

  9. says

    I had a similar experience that I honestly would never have thought twice about if I hadn’t just read this piece here. It was my due date and I was in the hospital triage for monitoring. My unborn son had developed a heart arrhythmia that we were all concerned about, that ended up being nothing serious. We were sent home the next day and he was born two days later. However, I could tell that they really wanted to keep me there and just induce me and get it all over with. While we were still there waiting to find out if anything was really wrong, one of the midwives came in and asked if she could check to see how dilated I was, and, though I was trying to avoid all interventions and unnecessary checks, my curiosity got the better of me as I had been experiencing mild contractions since earlier in the day. As soon as she got her fingers inside of me, she said, “Ooooo! Your membranes are just begging to be swept!” And, unprepared for the suggestion, and feeling vulnerable with her hand inside me, I hesitantly agreed on the spot. Until this moment when I read this post, I never allowed myself to fully feel the coercion and the inherent violation in her actions, and, from this perspective, so long in the future looking back, the clear position of power she was in and the blatant manipulation that was taking place at that moment. Thank you for writing this and sharing it, because a lot of people’s feelings are probably suppressed, as mine clearly were until just now, and in reading your words, something is triggered and finally released. Thank you.

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