sexual abuse and delivery : LUSENET : Doula.Com General Discussion : One Thread

Hi I'm doing a researsh paper on the implications of sexual abuse for the labouring woman and could use some help with published statistics/researsh/studies or real stories/articles etc if anyone knows how to go about posessing this type of information please contact me at the e-mail above thanks, Isabel

-- Isabel Neves (, November 02, 1999


Hi Isabel I am not really clear about what you are looking for. I do however have some experience personal as well as with women giving birth who were survivors. i also attended a conference where a presenter did an excellant presentation on the subject as she had developed a protocol for nurses and doulas and educators to use when working with women. contact me if you would like to discuss the above. sincerely Elaine

-- elaine prince (, January 12, 2000.

I seem to remember hearing that Penny Simkin did a series of presentations on the subject a couple of years ago. You can contact her through

-- Shawna Douglas (, January 24, 2001.

Dear Isabel: I, too, have decided on a quest for information and have found very little as topics for conferences, journals. I had an experience with a patient about 17 years ago, who had taken my Childbirth Prep. class in my home. I volunteered to provide labor support for them, an average young couple, dual professionals but with a tender heart looking forward to Baby #1. Her labor began mildly on a Fri. p.m., continued off and on Sat., through Sun. when we finally went to the hospital mid-afternoon.

She managed well as she finally entered into Active Labor, but around 8 p.m., she "flipped out". As labor intensified, she began to "lose control" and panic a bit. Then, with a wild look in her eyes, she told me "I'm going over the edge!! I'm going crazy!" I was shocked and unprepared to deal with what came next. Wishing I'd had more psychology in college, I stood up and attempted to bring some degree of calm to her, but she made eye contact with her husband and muttered something about this "reminding of her when she was in Germany", which made him start to cry, too. While they did not share with me what even she was referring to, I surmised it had been some type of sexual abuse or trauma.

All I could do was reassure her that THIS pain was about having her baby and was HELPING him to come forth, and it was NOT about the past pain. That was a moment God gave me wisdom on the spot, as it calmed her back down and allowed her to regain eye contact with me, and let me touch her and get her back with coping. She began experiencing back labor, so with the encouragement of a tiny English midwife- turned American nurse, she labored on hands and knees for the balance of labor, which put her in some rather exposed positions. Assuming her privacy would be important because of whatever the trauma, I kept her behind covered with sheets, kept her gown from exposing too much, and just loved her through the balance of labor. She benefitted from one dose of Nubain around midnight, which allowed her to rest between contractions.

Once full dilation was achieved and she was positioned in the Delivery room, pushing was a Herculean effort with little progress. After a full hour or more, the decision was made to assist the birth of the head with forceps. While I regretted the seeming necessity, it seemed a better option than preparing her for surgery. Little Andrew was born with the assistance of forceps, no worse for wear, at 8# 12 oz. I since have wondered what part did her abuse or whatever it was have to play in the course of the labor being so prolonged, and the slow, stubborn descent of the head, necesitating forceps?

What it taught me? I've expanded my talk on Non-Textbook Labors to include the Physical, Mental, and Emotional aspects of Prolonged Labors, for their consideration, and include encouragement of complete disclosure to their caregivers if they have such history. I feel that most doctors don't want to deal with the psychological aspects of prenatal care, but have a responsibility to be sensitive to the possibilities as 1 in 4 women will have some kind of abuse in their lifetime. I strongly recommend that they seek trusted counsel with either a lay person or psychological counseling referral from their OB or primary care MD. You wouldn't believe how often I see a knowing glance exchanged between partners, and have even had women come to me after class and confess they'd been raped or incested earlier in life, and how it helped them to seek counsel so that this would not have to be an intervention to a normal labor.

Please let me know what you find, as I'd like to prepare an abstract for consideration at an international conference next year! God bless and best of luck in your pursuit. Kathi Miller

-- Kathi Miller, CCE (, August 08, 2001.

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