Alabama doula Kirsten Clark talks about an intense experience watching obstetric violence happen right in front of her, and how her practice has evolved as a result.
* TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT AND OBSTETRIC VIOLENCE *
The doctor walked in, put on gloves, and stuck both hands into the laboring mom’s vagina. There was no consent. He didn’t tell her was going to do that or ask if she was okay with it. Moments later, he announced, “Oh, she is tearing already.”
I had to look away because I could not physically handle what I was seeing. My body began shaking. I felt lightheaded; I felt frozen in place. [I felt] complete helplessness and fear and anger and grief.
I walked away from that feeling responsible in a way for what had happened, and knowing that this mom had just experienced something that shouldn’t have happened, that something was really wrong. And that there was this visceral response in my body to what I was seeing.
I just kind of remember being back in that place and feeling like there was nothing that I could do to change what was happening to this mom in that moment.
[I knew] my body was responding to something… even though I wasn’t the person that it was happening to, I was still having this response and I needed to do something to work through it. I knew I didn’t want to be in that position again, feeling so helpless and frozen.
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