"Stop screaming, it doesn't hurt!"
"That's no way to push" "Stop screaming, it doesn't hurt" "Do you want to kill your baby?!?..."
The term "Obstetric Violence" never fails to generate many responses, these two loaded words have the ability to shake the audience from their comfort zone, the eyes leaving mobile screens, the occasional angry comment, a tear falls and painful birth stories begin to simmer. And very often there will be voices who resist the terminology itself.
What usually happens, whether we like to admit it or not, is a de-humanizing process : the abuse of medicalization, leading to the loss of women's autonomy over their bodies. And it's time we recognized the fact, that this is one more form of violence against women, because only women give birth. It happens, unfortunately, on a daily basis, and sometimes as a consequence of an intention to heal and do good.
It is crucial that we continue to acknowledge this phenomenon. If we were there, we should make a point of admitting to ourselves that we witnessed Obstetric Violence. In some cases we will be powerless to prevent it from taking place, and we'll have to settle for acknowledging that it was wrongful and unjust. Language can serve as an effective tool for recognition. Language can form and reconstruct a patient's perspective, the way she sees her body.
When we, the caregivers, caring for women in pregnancy and childbirth, agree to listen to women, to believe in them, we reveal the warp and woof, the balance of fibers, of who they are.
Today, in a lecture for the participants of the Midwifery Course at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, we touched this raw nerve together. The last of a series of lectures to the class of 2018 - more than 150 midwives-to-be - armed with the raw nerves that will allow each one of them her own gentle touch.