newborn baby toesWhen we reflect on our baby's birth there are a range of emotions. Maybe we remember the anticipation, the excitement, the uncertainty, the happiness, the elation, and sometimes the fear. Our birth experience is important and it's not just about whether baby was born healthy or not. It's also about us -- the mother -- and our well being, both emotionally and physically. If we had a traumatic birth, it affects us in many ways.

There is an organization in the UK called Birthrights that is dedicated to "protecting human rights in childbirth" because less than half of all women there have a birth they want. Here, it's been called birth rape. We cannot stand for being told "Shut up and just be grateful you and your baby are healthy." How we birth truly matters. 

A survey of 1,100 mothers in the UK revealed that 32 percent of pregnant women were not given a choice about where to birth; 31 percent felt they lost control of their birth experience; 23 percent didn't have a choice on where they wanted to be during labor; 18 percent felt their doctors weren't listening to them; and 24 percent had a procedure performed on them that they didn't consent to. We aren't being listened to. Things are happening without our consent. This is wrong.

Far too many women are disappointed in their birth not because of the outcome of having a healthy baby, but because their rights as a human being were ignored. Their choice was taken away. Their voices weren't heard. Procedures were performed without permission! This is not how women should be treated.

Forty-one percent of the mothers who were part of this study also said the way they birthed their baby impacted how they felt about themselves, with 22 percent saying it negatively affected how they felt about their baby. This isn't about a woman upset things didn't go exactly according to birth plan -- this is about how her voice wasn't heard, she was silenced, she was ignored, her rights were taken away from her at one of the most important moments of her life. This could certainly lead to postpartum depression and it makes mothers have no confidence in herself as a mom, which could in turn negatively affect the bond a mother makes with her child. There is far too much at stake here for us to ignore these stats or ignore a mother's wishes for how she wants to labor and deliver.

The best start we could give a woman as she enters into motherhood is confidence -- she deserves to be heard and respected. It's often why women work with doulas and midwives instead of hospitals. We want an advocate who is knowledgeable and on our side. Every mom deserves the best treatment, just as every person deserves it. Our mental and emotional health is just as important as our physical well being -- and the mothers of the world deserve respect.

Did you have a traumatic birth that affected you? In what ways? What would you change about your experience? Did you feel your voice was heard and respected?


Image via SurFeRGiRL30/Flickr