Friday, November 7, 2014

No Means No - Birth Rape Trigger Warning

We seem to have a problem when it comes to basic comprehension of what birthing women say during and after labor. Despite being sentient, adult humans who can usually speak or communicate in some way, people seem to think the definitions change once labor starts. Let's refresh some basics.

No means no mean no. No matter the circumstances or excuses.

No means no regardless of location. If she's birthing at home, at a birth center, at a hospital, in a car, no still means no.

No means no regardless of where she is laboring. If she's in the shower, or in a pool, or on a ball, or on the OR table, no still means no.

No means no regardless of her mood. If she's crying, or screaming, or angry, or scared, or at peace, no still means no.

No means no regardless of her pain level. If she's in a little pain, or searing, unbearable pain, or no pain at all, no still means no.

No means no when she says she'll consider a medical intervention later.

No means no even when you feel you have a good reason.

No means no even if you feel tired, rushed, or impatient.

No means no even if you think it's something she'd like.

No means no even during an emergency.

No means no when she asks to stop offering an intervention to her.

No means no when she crawls away from you during a contraction.

No means no when she kicks at you as you force her legs into stirrups.

No means no when she cries and screams as you force your hand into her vagina.

No means no when she tries to turn her head away from a spoonful of herbs or a syringe of medicines.

No means no when she squirms and pulls back as you attempt to pull on her baby or cut her body.

No means no when she's too medicated to talk and tries to moan and hit your hand away.

No means no when she says to stop touching her and you hold on tighter.

No means no when she pushes you away and you lean onto her with all your weight.

No means no when she screams out and you cover her mouth so as not to scare the other laboring moms.

No means no when she tries to get off the bed and the nurses hold her down.

No means no when she's rolling away from you on the bed and you're moving after her.

No means no when her partner tries to step in to protect her and you get annoyed.

No means no when she clearly has no written all over her birth plan.

No means no even if you scare her by claiming she's an evil mother or pulling the dead baby card.

No means no when she desperately holds onto her baby and you grab the baby without medical reason.

No means no when she screams that she can feel the scalpel or the needle and you keep going.

No means no when she gives you vaccine exemptions and you vaccinate anyways.

No means no when she writes no formula on his bassinet card and you give it to him in the nursery.


No means no. Always has and always will. Your excuses don't change it. Your desire doesn't change it. Your intent doesn't change it. Your medical degree doesn't negate it. The cost of your services doesn't reduce it. Your OR privileges or dedicated home visits don't entitle you.

No means no. Review and remember.

Photo credit: Kirsten Sargent

Kirsten shares her experience:

"Things changed very quickly after this photo was taken. This is my first baby, a home birth, hospital transfer due to a retained placenta and severe hemorrhage. I was held down by 4 nurses while the retained placenta was removed manually, without communication/consent or pain medication after a 28 hour long natural birth. Nothing was explained to myself or my husband. I was separated from my baby for 12 hours because he wasn't born at the hospital and therefore was a liability. This was a little over 4 years ago and I still have horrible nightmares of that night."

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