The first time we hear a new and not very colloquial term we ask ourselves questions, and wonder if there is a new situation or phenomenon emerging from this fast moving society. However, when we talk about obstetric violence this is not the case.
Unfortunately the facts are so normalized that until now it was not contemplated as a worrying situation that is now labeled as such. But thanks to the feminist movement, at last a name has been given to a term that would include, and at the same time evidence, one more way in which women are mistreated.
By whom? By the health system itself, so simple and worrying at the same time.
What is obstetric violence?
As defined by the Catalan Association for a Respectful Childbirth Dona Llum, obstetric violence is understood as “the dehumanizing treatment, the abuse of medicalization and the pathologization of the physiological processes of childbirth that brings about the loss of autonomy and decision-making capacity on the part of women during pregnancy and childbirth. during pregnancy and childbirth”.
When we begin to talk about obstetric violence, the first question that arises is: What is it? And after knowing what series of situations are included in it, the opinions and value judgments are disparate and, at times, opposing.
All too common cases
For those who are looking for quantifiable data, we will tell you that statistics show that the probability of a birth ending in cesarean section is four times higher in Extremadura than in the Basque Country. And no, it is not precisely because there are so many physiological differences between the women of one community compared to the other.
Obstetric violence includes verbal, operative and gestural mistreatment.. Where is the biopsychosocial model that should look after the wellbeing of this person?
In recent years the use of unnecessary episiotomies in childbirth has become normalized.This consists of making a cut in the skin and muscles between the entrance of the vagina and the anus.
Most of these cases end up with poorly done stitches that cause shortening of the distance between the two orifices (with the consequent recurrent infections involved), narrowing of the entrance of the vagina in a way that would make sexual intercourse difficult after the removal of the stitches or incontinence problems associated with the damage caused to the pelvic floor.
- Related article: (link to pelvic floor exercises)
On the other hand, in the follow-up of the protocols of based on the practice of defensive medicine, it is possible for a woman toIn fact, during 30 hours of labor, a woman is turned into a passive object with no power of decision, and when she asks her partner to be the spokesperson for her suggestions due to exhaustion, he is taken out of the room with any excuse in order to have fewer witnesses of how negligent action is taken.
Verbal, operative and gestural mistreatment of women during childbirth is very common.
Once in the solitude of a delivery room, a clumsy student trainee is allowed to change the IV with which antibiotics, oxytocin (which causes painful contractions every five minutes for hours and hours) and other substances with which she is overmedicated, with a sibylline “take advantage of the fact that her veins are more marked”.
The disinformation in real time is overwhelming and without asking (and in some cases, even without reading the wishes expressly written and signed by the patient herself) the next step is decided upon, where what is most important is the comfort of the healthcare personnel when it comes to performing an infinite number of examinations.to push with elbows and fists on the woman’s belly and thus accelerate the expulsion of the baby… because they need to have an empty bed soon for the next one.
Does anyone really think about what the two real protagonists of the birth, mother and child, feel?
Curiously, most of those who empathize with this delicate fact that is obstetric violence, are either women who have suffered it in their own flesh, or close relatives or people of both sexes with enough sensitivity and critical eye to realize the reality: that that the way in which deliveries are carried out in our Spanish hospitals is far from ideal. The way in which deliveries are carried out in our Spanish hospitals is far from ideal for the health and wellbeing of mother and baby.
As might be expected, many voices are also being raised to scorn this movement that seeks to put the spotlight on obstetric violence, a situation that, despite being painful for those who suffer it, is not rejected by the entire population, which defends the healthcare system that supports it above all else, including the victims who suffer it.
If the doctor says so, it goes without saying.
And that’s where the perversion of the system we live in comes in: “if it’s supported by science, that’s fine”.
Well no, unfortunately it is not like that. The fact that something comes from the organism that should look after our well-being and health in an integral way is no guarantee that it works correctly, and this is one of many cases that only those with sufficient critical spirit seem to perceive it.
The human factor is key, and respecting the woman’s decisions who trusts healthcare personnel at such a delicate moment should prevail over the protocols to which they cling, which only serve to protect themselves from their negligence before the law when they inflict this type of violence.
Because childbirth can be painful and unpleasant by its very nature, but it should never be so because a health system supports practices where a woman, in a unique moment of her life that should be marked with the beauty of bringing into the world one of the beings she will love most, is relegated to the position of a passive object under a system that tolerates the intolerable.
Let’s put words to the problem
For all those who seek to defend this essential right of those essential right of those who bring new lives into this world.For all those who know firsthand what we are talking about when it comes to obstetric violence and painful memories are stirred up, and for all women who, simply because they are women, should have the peace of mind that everything will be fine if they give birth someday, let us put words to this form of mistreatment to point out a failure of society that marks lives unnecessarily.
Let’s openly verbalize what is happening to change things; only then is the true power of words demonstrated.