Stop obstetric violence toward babies

3D Stop Violence Crossword

Homebirth advocates have a terrible propensity for promiscuous use of language. By that I mean the use and abuse of language for the express purpose of drawing attention. Such is the case with the use of the term rape as in the currently fashionable accusation of “birth rape”. It’s not rape, it has nothing to do with rape, and it is a grievous insult to those women who have experience the horror of rape.

Even homebirth advocates recognize that abusing the term “rape” in this way is not winning friends for their cause. Hence, the latest iteration of “the obstetrician didn’t do exactly what I wanted” is “obstetric violence.” Apparently, if you are a homebirth advocate, having your feelings hurt is the equivalent of “violence.” That, of course, is ridiculous.

However, there is such a thing as obstetric violence and it is perpetrated by homebirth advocates on babies.

Babies do not ask to be conceived. If a woman decides to conceive a baby and carry it to term, she has a moral obligation to care for the health and well being of that baby. She has a moral obligation to feed it and change it, and clothe it, and put it in a carseat when she takes the baby with her to the grocery store. She also has a moral obligation not to risk its life.

Obstetric violence toward babies involves real violence, injury and death, not hurt feelings. Over the years I have written about women whose babies have died hideous deaths at homebirth.

These include breech babies whose heads were entrapped while their bodies dangled outside their mother’s vagina, and who died long before they could reach medical help.

They include babies who struggled for hours and suffocated, dropping dead into the hands of unsuspecting homebirth midwives who didn’t appropriately monitor their heart rates.

They include babies who slowly lost brain cells because their heads had delivered, but their shoulders became entrapped.

They include babies who died when they were suddenly extruded into their mother’s abdomen when a uterine incision ruptured and they bled to death long before they could reach a hospital.

They include babies who survived but suffered serious brain injuries leading to lifelong disabilities affecting their ability to move, to reason, to live on their own, to fulfill the potential that they had when labor started.

Who cares about the obstetric violence perpetrated on these babies?

Certainly not homebirth midwives, who never met a risk they couldn’t label as a variation of normal.

Certainly not homebirth advocates, who never heard of a homebirth death that they couldn’t rationalize with the all purpose, and incredibly ugly claim that “some babies are just meant to die.”

Who cares about the obstetric violence perpetrated on these babies? Obstetricians of course. You know, the people who “play the dead baby card” because they are actually worried that your baby could die.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s something very wrong when women claim that hurting their feelings is “violence. There is something very wrong when letting a baby suffocate to death, half the body born, and half still inside the mother is dismissed as inevitable, especially when it was not. And there is something very wrong when the obstetrician cares more about whether your baby lives or dies than you do.

Stop obstetric violence toward babies … have a hospital birth.