Have You Experienced Obstetric Violence?
Stories are welcome from anywhere in the world.
What is Obstetric Violence?
Obstetric violence is mistreatment of women and birthing people in the childbirth setting, often delivered verbally and normalized as routine care. It is an attempt to control a woman’s body and decisions, violating her autonomy and dignity. It has also been termed “disrespect & abuse” in birth settings by the World Health Organization.
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Obstetric Violence Culture
This culture affects all birthing people, but disproportionately impacts women of color, indigenous women, LGBTQ people, women of size and a host of other marginalized communities.
OUR Birth Stories Matter
At least 1/3 of American women describe their own experience of giving birth as traumatic. Many of their stories are evidence of obstetric violence. Bringing these stories to light helps to break taboos around the shaming and silencing of these survivors. Sharing these birth stories is the first step towards making change.
“My birth plan was mocked by the nurses at the station, who were taking bets as to how long it would take before I got a c-section.” – Anonymous
“She said if I did not consent, then I did not care if my baby died.” – Lindsay
“They yelled at me for everything. They never told me what I wasn’t supposed to do, but then they yelled at me after I did it.” – Christel
“My decisions regarding my own healthcare were ignored and trivialized.” – Angela
“That was the most traumatizing thing – I had just said ‘no’ and he did it anyway. He said, ‘just stay still!’” – Samantha
Quotes from Exposing the Silence Project
READ IN-DEPTH STORIES
Exposing the silence project
This photographic project is a platform for stories from women like Abriana. “I felt alone in that hospital. I felt weak. I felt like a failure. I still do. Even as I write this, almost two years later, I feel that I failed my daughter.” Co-created by Birth Monopoly and Spot of Serendipity Photography.
#breakthesilence is a viral consumer-social media campaign that spread to various countries around the world to bring attention to abuse and trauma in childbirth. Read Cristen’s article about the campaign and these issues.
This Alabama mother filed a groundbreaking lawsuit to hold her hospital accountable after she was wrestled to her back in birth and permanently injured. Caroline’s story is the basis for our documentary Mother May I.
First-time California mom Kimberly Turbin was given a forced episiotomy, caught on video. With the help of a small, dedicated advocacy team including us, she was able to file a lawsuit for assault & battery against her former doctor, resulting in the forfeiture of his medical license.
Doula and Nurse Stories
Hear what some brave doulas and Labor & Delivery nurses have to say about obstetric violence on Birth Allowed Radio. “I am part of the medical staff involved in daily deliveries and I am here to say: Start believing women.”
Obstetric Violence Map
Read firsthand stories from birthing people in your area and around the world via Birth Monopoly’s Obstetric Violence Stories Map.
Are you still struggling with what happened in your birth?
Resources for Doulas
Are you a Doula who needs information on preventing and responding to obstetric violence on the job?
Learn more here.
Obstetric Violence in the Media
Selected Publications on Obstetric Violence
Click titles for papers free of charge
Maria T.R. Borges, A Violent Birth: Reframing Coerced Procedures During Childbirth as Obstetric Violence, DUKE LAW JOURNAL Vol. 67:827 (2018)
Elizabeth Kukura, Obstetric Violence, Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 106 (2018)
Farah Diaz-Tello, Invisible wounds: obstetric violence in the United States, Reproductive Health Matters, 24:47 (2016)
Hermine Hayes-Klein, Brief of Human Rights in Childbirth et al. as Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiff Rinat Dray, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of kings (2015)
Jaime Abrams, Distorted and Diminished Tort Claims for Women, Cardozo Law Review (2013)
Michelle Oberman, Mothers and Doctors’ Orders: Unmasking the Doctor’s Fiduciary Role in Maternal-Fetal Conflicts, Northwestern Law Review (2000)
What Can I Do to Prevent or Respond to Obstetric Violence?
- Know your rights in childbirth. LEARN MORE >
- Tell your own story. SHARE NOW >
- Support Mother May I, the upcoming documentary on abuse and trauma in Labor & Delivery. WATCH TRAILER >
- Watch two Alabama doulas discuss how they successfully advocate for clients in hostile environments. SEE THE VIDEO >
- File a complaint or explore a lawsuit. GET THE GUIDE >