Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sexual Abuse & Birth

Approximately one out of three girls and one out of five boys experience sexual abuse during their childhoods. Why does this matter for birth? As social worker and co-founder of DONA International, Phyllis Klaus notes, "Abuse memories can be activated at significant developmental periods or at stressful life events. Pregnant and becoming a parent are times of vulnerability, perhaps due to uncontrollable factors such as rapid changes in the woman's body, uncertainty and labor pain, stretching of the birth canal as the baby descends...Survivors of abuse may be affected by numerous invasive procedures as well as coping with medical professionals who are strangers with authority and power."

Care providers skilled in the Midwives Model of Care may be more able to provide an atmosphere of safety and respect for abuse survivors and are much less likely to use invasive procedures that can lead survivors to feel further victimized.

Midwifery Today is hosting a conference in May specifically about sexual abuse. The conference is designed both for "Survivor Moms" and also for midwifery and mental health care professionals.

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