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Unhappy Birthdays: Why more mothers are saying they were "birth raped"

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“I was worried they would hurt me”

BC Women's Hospital was Christoff's hospital of choice. After some time there of expected protocol, a senior obstetrician who Christoff had never seen before walked into the room, and began demanding that forceps be used, implying there was an emergency. When Christoff objected, asking about the risks, the obstetrician became angry, and finally began repeating these words:

“There is an extreme risk of tearing to the mother.”

“It felt like a threat,” Christoff confessed. “I finally said yes, because I was so worried that if I didn’t, they would hurt me.”

Furthermore, about 15 people began milling about the room, not communicating with Christoff, not answering her—like apparitions in a nightmare, agents whose trajectories cannot be negotiated. They were preparing the room for forceps before Christoff had even agreed.

“I felt like it didn’t matter what I said.”

Sadly, Christoff did experience a second-degree tear—from the violent forceps delivery that followed, what was carried out in order to prevent tearing.

Perhaps the procedure didn’t go as planned because, as Christoff eventually realized, a fourth-year resident had performed it.

“There had been no emergency, or else they wouldn’t have let a resident do it,” said Christoff. That was the point she began disassociating from the “unreal” events she had just experienced.

“I knew something really bad had happened, but I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t expect danger at B.C. Women’s Hospital, and yet danger was there," she said.

“My body reacted by feeling that the whole world was dangerous.”

Read Part 2 of Unhappy Birthdays, The politics of "birth rape" and mothers with PTSD.

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