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Exploring ‘obstetric violence’ and ‘birth rape’

trauma hiding.jpg

Recently, the wonderful Ibone Olza (Perinatal Psychiatrist and Childbirth Activist from Childbirth is Ours, Spain) contacted me about her work on obstetric violence, birth rape and professional trauma. After reading her papers and watching her present her work, I was compelled to document and reflect upon some of the issues raised, here.

The following points are made within the paper: Fernández, Ibone Olza. “PTSD and obstetric violence.” Midwifery today with international midwife 105 (2013): 48-9.

Birth trauma has been defined as “Actual or threatened injury or death to the mother or her baby” (Beck 2008). Yet such trauma lies in the eye of the beholder, therefore, any trauma experienced by either the mother, newborn or the birth attendant may be due to a subjective experience of stress which does not need to fit any particular criteria necessarily. This means that some traumatic events may be subjective in their nature, and as such, we cannot judge what may or may not cause another person trauma. It is a personal interpretation or perception.

A meta-ethnographic analysis of studies about women’s perceptions and experiences of a traumatic birth reported that women are often traumatized as a result of the actions or inactions of midwifery staff (Elmir et al. 2010). Whatever, such inactions or actions may be…women often use words such as ‘barbaric’, ‘intrusive’, ‘horrific’ and ‘degrading’ to describe their mistreatment (Thomson and Downe 2008).

For Hodges, drugging or cutting a pregnant woman with no medical indication is an act of violence, even when performed by a medical professional in a hospital. Inappropriate medical treatment is also clearly abusive, although few women are aware that this is deliberate mistreatment (Hodges 2009).

The term ‘birth rape’ has been used by women who feel that their bodies have been violated. Kitzinger highlighted that many women who have experienced a traumatic birth display similar symptoms to rape survivors (Kitzinger 2006). The video below explores these issues in greater detail, as we can hear the lovely  Ibone Olza  sharing this work.

 

One of the things I was most encouraged about, was that  Ibone Olza  considers the wellbeing of the midwifery staff in her work. Birth attendants are often also traumatized by these acts, and may feel powerless to intervene. In a recent study by Beck, 26% of obstetric nurses met all the diagnostic criteria for screening positive for PTSD due to exposure to their patients who were traumatized (Beck and Gable 2012). Being present at  abusive deliveries can magnify staffs’ exposure to birth trauma.

staff use phrases such as…

“the physician violated her”

“a perfect delivery turned violent”

“unnecessary roughness with her perineum”

“felt like an accomplice to a crime”

“I felt like I was watching a rape.”

….to describe the guilt that ensued when they felt like they had failed women or they did not speak up and challenge/question…

Article 51 establishes that: The following acts implemented by health personnel are considered acts of obstetric violence:

  1. Untimely and ineffective attention of obstetric emergencies
  2. Forcing the woman to give birth in a supine position, with legs raised, when the necessary means to perform a vertical delivery are available
  3. Impeding the early attachment of the child with his/her mother without a medical cause thus preventing the early attachment and blocking the possibility of holding, nursing or breastfeeding immediately after birth
  4. Altering the natural process of low-risk delivery by using acceleration
    techniques, without obtaining voluntary, expressed and informed consent of the woman
  5. Performing delivery via cesarean section, when natural childbirth is possible, without obtaining voluntary, expressed, and informed consent from the woman

(D’Gregorio 2010)

trauma

Yet whilst people do bad things, it is important to remember that they are not necessarily bad people…

This work explains how professionals may exert obstetric violence due to:

  • Lack of technical skills to deal with emotional and sexual aspects of childbirth.
  • Unsolved trauma. The medicalization of childbirth produces more severe iatrogenic
    complications (Johanson, Newburn and Macfarlane 2002; Belghiti et al. 2011). If the
    professionals do not have a supportive space to reflect or to deal with this aspect of iatrogenic care, they may fall into a spiral of continuously increased medicalization as a defensive strategy. Childbirth is then perceived as a very dangerous event, “a bomb ready to explode,” without realizing that interventions cause more unnecessary interventions and pain.
  • Professional burnout in birth attendants will lead to increased dehumanized care and therefore never-ending figures of women experiencing childbirth as very traumatic.

..and so the challenge will be to identify and address these root causes to ensure that maternity staff are able to provide excellence in midwifery care. My work explores how we might support the psychological wellbeing of health care staff may increase levels of humanity and compassion in care. I hope to keep in touch with Ibone Olza and many others around the world who share the same passion for this work. Together we may collectively work towards a time where maternity workers are psychologically safer, and therefore better able to provide the excellence in care they strive to give.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

References and further reading

  • Soet JE, Brack GA, DiIorio C. Prevalence and predictors of women’s experience of psychological trauma during childbirth. Birth 2003 Mar;30(1):36-46.
  • Creedy DK, Shochet IM, Horsfall J. Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms: incidence and contributing factors. Birth 2000 Jun;27(2):104-111.
  • Ayers S, Pickering AD. Do women get post traumatic stress disorder as a result of childbirth? A prospective study of incidence. Birth 2001 Jun;28(2):111-118.
  • Beck CT, Gable RK, Sakala C, Declercq ER. Post traumatic stress disorder in new mothers: results from a two stage U.S. national survey. Birth 2011 Sep;38(3):216-227.
  • Allen S. A qualitative analysis of the process, mediating variables and impact of traumatic childbirth. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 1998;16(2-3):107-131.
  • Beck CT, Watson S. Impact of birth trauma on breast-feeding: a tale of two pathways. Nurs Res 2008 Jul-Aug;57(4):228-236.
  • Beck CT. Post-traumatic stress disorder due to childbirth: the aftermath. Nurs Res 2004 Jul-Aug;53(4):216-224.
  • Beck CT. Birth trauma: in the eye of the beholder. Nurs Res 2004 Jan-Feb;53(1):28-35.
  • Ayers S. Delivery as a traumatic event: prevalence, risk factors, and treatment for postnatal posttraumatic stress disorder. Clin Obstet Gynecol 2004 Sep;47(3):552-567.
  • Olde E, van der Hart O, Kleber R, van Son M. Posttraumatic stress following childbirth: a review. Clin Psychol Rev 2006 Jan;26(1):1-16.
  • Elmir R, Schmied V, Wilkes L, Jackson D. Women’s perceptions and experiences of a traumatic birth: a meta-ethnography. J Adv Nurs 2010 Oct;66(10):2142-2153.
  • Nicholls K, Ayers S. Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder in couples: a qualitative study. Br J Health Psychol 2007 Nov;12(Pt 4):491-509.
  • Ayers S. Thoughts and emotions during traumatic birth: a qualitative study. Birth 2007 Sep;34(3):253-263.
  • Thomson G, Downe S. Widening the trauma discourse: the link between childbirth and experiences of abuse. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 2008 Dec;29(4):268-273.
  • Goldbort JG. Women’s lived experience of their unexpected birthing process. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 2009 Jan-Feb;34(1):57-62.
  • Sawyer A, Ayers S. Post-traumatic growth in women after childbirth. Psychol Health 2009 Apr;24(4):457-471.
  • Hodges S. Abuse in hospital-based birth settings? J Perinat Educ 2009 Fall;18(4):8-11.
  • Kitzinger S. Birth as rape: There must be an end to ‘just in case’ obstetrics. British Journal of Midwifery 2006;14(9):544-545.
  • Beck CT. The anniversary of birth trauma: failure to rescue. Nurs Res 2006 Nov-Dec;55(6):381-390.
  • Beck CT, Gable RK. A Mixed Methods Study of Secondary Traumatic Stress in Labor and Delivery Nurses. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2012 Jul 12.
  • Perez D’Gregorio R. Obstetric violence: a new legal term introduced in Venezuela. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2010 Dec;111(3):201-202.
  • Callister LC. Making meaning: women’s birth narratives. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2004 Jul-Aug;33(4):508-518.
  • Johanson R, Newburn M, Macfarlane A. Has the medicalisation of childbirth gone too far? BMJ 2002 Apr 13;324(7342):892-895.
  • Belghiti J, Kayem G, Dupont C, Rudigoz RC, Bouvier-Colle MH, Deneux-Tharaux C. Oxytocin during labour and risk of severe postpartum haemorrhage: a population-based, cohort-nested case-control study. BMJ Open 2011 Dec 21;1(2):e000514.

 

 

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What makes a good midwifery manager? Satisfaction vs Dissatisfaction in the workplace

Reducing stress and fatigue among maternity staff is key to reducing baby deaths and brain injuries during childbirth, according to a detailed new analysis published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

This ‘each baby counts’ initiative confirms that “Decision-making is more difficult when staff feel stressed or tired”.

“This report shows that there is a need for additional support for our maternity staff and units so that every mother and every family has the healthiest possible outcome from pregnancy and birth,” said Judy Ledger, founder and chief executive of the charity Baby LifeLine.

This news supports my own research quest, as I work to find new interventions to support midwives in work-related psychological distress.

This state of affairs also suggests that it may be prudent to do all that we can to ensure midwife satisfaction in the workplace. In fact, anything good in the workplace has to be safer/better than the bad stuff right?

At the 31st International Confederation of Midwives’ Triennial Congress held in June 2017, I stumbled upon an interesting research presentation on what could promote satisfaction/dissatisfaction in the midwifery workplace. More specifically, the characteristics of midwifery management behaviors were used to demonstrate what might promote satisfaction and dissatisfaction in managerial relationships. I will translate my brief notes from the session here:

In promoting workplace satisfaction, a midwifery manager:

  • Is supportive
  • Respects, values and appreciates midwives
  • Is an advocate for staff
  • Follows through on promises
  • Facilitates new ventures and learning
  • Cares for staff
  • Is aware of stressors

In promoting workplace dissatisfaction, a midwifery manager:

  • Is punitive
  • Is demanding
  • Is inconsistent
  • Is ineffectual
  • Is ‘Terrible’
  • Tolerates or perpetrates bullying
  • Does not listen

Not a big shock here right?…I mean it’s not rocket science. Nevertheless, this knowledge must be shared in order to promote healthy workplace cultures in the pursuit of excellence in maternity care.

The best midwifery care can only be delivered by midwives at their best…. Can we all begin to set our working day by these rules? Can we all be a little kinder? caring?..respectful to one another?

fist pump

This was just one of the many things learnt at this year’s 

In time, I will try to share more about why 

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

 

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“Midwifery…It’s about the birth of humanity…” #zepherinalecture17

This is just a short post to summarise this year’s  hosted by the . What an inspiring day in midwifery it was.

Zepherina Veitch (1836-1894) was a midwife who put her energies into the cause of midwifery reform. I can identify with this, as my own work focuses largely on supporting the midwifery profession. As we improve….we make reforms. I whole heartedly want midwives to become leaders and agents of change for a better future. I just happen to believe that the midwifery profession will only reach it’s true potential once midwives are adequately supported in the workplace.

Much of the lecture given by the inspiring   was focused upon ‘the woman’s experience’. Whilst we all aspire to deliver the best experiences for the women we care for, I couldn’t help but add on these words to each phrase ‘and midwives too’…

cover image for caring to change reportBut then this document appeared.

Caring to change

How compassionate leadership can stimulate innovation in health care…

Here, we begin to see how compassion in the workplace can stimulate excellence in the healthcare services….If we care to change. Compassionate leadership turns into a compassionate workplace culture…

This lecture also focused on the development of humanised care in favour of medicalised care. A no brainer right?…Perhaps we can ‘humanise’ the workplace for midwives too?

After all….We need more midwives right?

But the pinnacle of this event was seeing the pinnard being handed from today with her final flourish and welcome to  …the new president of the Royal College of Midwives

Also…a huge congratulations go to Onya,   and – new fellows of the . 👏🏽👏🏽😀💜

But at the end of the day…I got to meet some of the most inspirational midwives…one of those being the wonderful  …I can certainly recommend next year’s  ..come along and be inspired!.. Because we all need a little positivity in our lives! You get it with midwifery….”It’s about the birth of humanity…” after all…

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

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Debunking Midwifery Myths

New article published here: Oh baby: seven things you probably didn’t know about midwives

…please share it widely!

dad with baby

As I am now coming to the end of my PhD (With lot’s of new and exciting things on the horizon I hope), I have been delving into the depths of the largest global online survey of midwives to date – the voices of over 2470 midwives in 93 countries!

Not only is this really an awesome and very important piece of work… it also holds some quite harrowing findings for our beloved midwifery profession. Yet this report also indicates that – if the voices of midwives are listened to, and if midwives are enabled to overcome gender inequalities and assume positions of leadership – quality of care can be improved for women and newborns globally. Wow….OK…we had better get to work then!

ALSO…

“Professionally, 89% of respondents reported that a clear understanding of what midwifery involves is critical for change to take place. Concerns were also expressed over the perceived devaluing of midwifery combined with the increasing medicalisation of birth.”

 

baby on blue

Professionally, the participants expressed concern about a lack of understanding of what “midwifery” is, the devaluing of the midwifery profession combined with the increasing medicalisation of birth, and the underlying weakness in midwifery education and regulation.

Now, I don’t claim to be able to fix the world in a day..but there was one thing that I thought I may be able to do from behind my PC. I could get an article published in @ConversationUK about the midwifery profession…perhaps I could even debunk some myths and set the record straight!…

I had my article published…please share it widely via the link below:

Oh baby: seven things you probably didn’t know about midwives

Now I was limited in this article. Limited in words and in how many points I was able to make in one article…editors need to keep their publications engaging!..and so yes…I did not manage to publish everything in this article as I would have liked to…and yes there are many many more myths about midwives that need to be debunked. But I am hoping that this will the a start of a new conversation.

Midwifery is defined as “skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate care for childbearing women, newborn infants and families across the continuum from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and the early weeks of life” and it should be celebrated at every opportunity.

Let’s keep the conversation going around the importance of the midwifery profession. Midwives are crucial to the delivery of high quality maternal and newborn care and subsequent reductions in maternal and newborn mortality around the world. Yet they must be celebrated, respected and supported.

The core characteristics of midwifery include “optimising normal biological, psychological, social and cultural processes of reproduction and early life, timely prevention and management of complications, consultation with and referral to other services, respecting women’s individual circumstances and views, and working in partnership with women to strengthen women’s own capabilities to care for themselves and their families” – Can we start to spread the word on this now please?

baby on back

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

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Making Birth better: How research shapes practice #bbresearch17

Indulging in my passion for research, I am today reflecting on my time at  …an intimate conference made into a delightful day thanks to  & …More specifically …    &   …

I personally enjoyed this as a more intimate conference, where deeper conversations could get the brain working on what was really needed in maternity services and health research…Another reflection of the day can be seen on Steller here…

As you can see, we had a great line up for the day, and a fish and chip lunch no less!

Highlights for me include:

Stop sexualising breastfeeding!!!! The great presentation by

Learning about associated with at with

Learning so much about at with Prof. Soo Downe

Getting a wave from miles away from  across the miles sending & midwifery love to us all …..❤️

Powerful words from at …. how do we cope as midwives, & ensure excellence in maternity care?

And of course.. # learning all about making sure that blood goes to baby with  with ❤️

Learning about the barriers to identifying poor shared by prof at  with 🎓

Yet there were a couple of overarching themes that came from the day…including….

 

Thank you to everyone who came to see these wonderful presentations (including those who came to see my own presentation of course – you gave me lots to think about!)!…and thank you all for such an intimate and heartwarming day discussing my favorite topic…Research in Midwifery 😍…

 

And a last word from the Head of Midwifery at Hinchingbrooke  Hospital….(Heather Gallagher)…..

bbresearch

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

 

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A reflection on #internationaldayofthemidwife (#IDM2017)

International day of the midwife

Happy #internationaldayofthemidwife or () as it is indeed the 5th of May 2017. I wanted to do a quick reflection (and a little dance of happiness) about the fact that the focus of this year’s International Day of the Midwife is…

 “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!”

With messages coming from the International Confederation such as…”It is very important that midwives and mothers both acknowledge the reciprocity of their relationship” – Scarlett

Yes…..we work in PARTNERSHIP with women and their families!…mothers, families and midwives are all equal partners….this means that we can finally break the mold and state openly that we, as midwives can also be prioritised!…Fabulous!

I have often wondered whether terms such as ‘Patient comes first’ is really healthy…as it is terms like this which often infer that midwives come second at best. What do you think?

service and sacrifice

I have also been picking up on some other great messages, pictures and videos this ..such as…..

 

 

I have also been dipping in and out of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife conference sessions a FREE conference that happens online every year….I have presented my work at  () before, and it is such a great opportunity to get people together in one place from all over the world!

This year for  I have recorded a podcast ‘Made by midwives for midwives’. Hosted by London based midwives Anthonissa Moger and Kate Whatmough….  (The Midwifery Podcast: Os closed, go home.)..I will be sharing this in an upcoming blog post…but for now..I am off to enjoy the rest of …there is such positivity in the midwifery world today…Let’s keep the momentum going ❣🎓❣

 

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

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Mindfulness and Self-Care in Midwifery

As my main research interests are firmly rooted within supporting a positive staff experience for healthcare workers, especially midwives in work-related psychological distress, I am always looking for new opportunities to share knowledge with others in this area. …The Global Alliance for Nursing and Midwifery (GANM) is a joint project sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Nursing Knowledge, Information Management & Sharing at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. This blog post provides an overview of a webinar session hosted by GANM entitled “Mindfulness and Self-Care in Midwifery:  Review of Current Evidence and Guided Mindfulness Practice.

For a preliminary introduction to this topic – check out an earlier blog post on this topic entitled “Midwife Burnout: A Brief Summary“.

downtimes

Erin Wright, DNP, CNM, APRN-BC, led the conversation…Participants were diverse, and originated from Canada, Peru, US (Baltimore, Urbana, Birmingham, Atlanta, Buffalo), Ireland, UK (Coventry University and School of Healthcare Sciences Cardiff), Brazil, Montserrat, and Trinidad.

The full webinar can be accessed here.

Much of the research covered, has also been captured within my earlier narrative review: Pezaro, Sally, et al. “‘Midwives Overboard!’Inside their hearts are breaking, their makeup may be flaking but their smile still stays on.” Women and Birth 29.3 (2016): e59-e66.

However, there were some new and interesting comparisons made with more recent research here…

“Four common themes have been identified that traverse the different models of care. The NZ study provides insight into how case load midwifery can be sustainable enabling long term sustainability. The UK study highlights healthy resilient practices that enable practice. What remains uncertain is how models of care enable or disable sustainable long term practice and nurture healthy resilient behaviours within the different models of care”.

comparisons

“The notion of resilience in midwifery as the panacea to resolve current concerns may need rethinking as the notion may be interpreted as expecting midwives ‘to toughen up’ in a working setting that is socially, economically and culturally challenging.”

Sources (Crowther, Susan, et al. “Sustainability and resilience in midwifery: A discussion paper.” Midwifery 40 (2016): 40-48.)

So we are now much enlightened as to how and why midwives are experiencing distress, we also have some insights into how they try to cope (or not)…and where this distress may affect maternity services…but what we are yet to learn, is what may be most effective in supporting midwives in work-related psychological distress…although a few clues are emerging….

Mindfulness is coming forward as a potential tool of support..stress management, education and clinical supervision may also be of benefit to midwives in distress…But how, why and how much is not yet clear.

After exploring the literature in relation to psychological distress in midwifery populations, we were all invited to join in some mindfulness practice..What is mindfulness?

Image result for mindfulness

 

Feeling overwhelmed?…TRY….R.A.I.N

RRecognize What’s Going On

AAllowing: Taking a Life-Giving Pause

I—Investigating with Kindness

NNatural Loving Awareness

Source: Mindful.org

relation-ships

Recommended further reading

Youtube presenters:

  • Jon Kabat Zinn
  • Elisha Goldstein
  • Tara Brach
  • Sharon Salzberg

Websites/Audio Links:

Books: 

  • A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Workbook (Goldstein and Stahl)
  • Everyday Catastrophe Living (Jon Kabat Zinn)
  • Wherever you go there you are (Jon Kabat Zinn)
  • Mindfulness for Beginners (Jon Kabat Zinn)
  • Real Happiness (Sharon Salzberg)
  • The Mindful Nurse (Carmel Sheridan)

For more mindfulness exercises, visit the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center.

book-mark

Thanks for a very insightful and informative session!

Until next time…Look after yourselves & each other 🦄💫🎓