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Speaking for the Silent

I am so sad for the people who have to work in hospitals that are so mean and cruel to women and their babies. They must be the saddest people in the world. Their lives must be so miserable, their world so bitter, their air so toxic they surely suffer from so much stress and cancer and diseases of the heart and spirit and body... I cannot imagine the pain that oozes from their place's of health care (and I use that term very loosely) workers. What a sad existence.

And even sadder for the women who birth there every single day who believe birth like that is normal. And here I thought I was going to be a therapist to help women with birthrape alone! Now I have come across an entire population of women - poor women - who don't even know there are other ways to birth... they can have a beautiful, peaceful, kind and respectful birth with plenty of care and attention and no judgement about her socioeconomic or racial status.

How can we expect the world to be more peaceful when babies are born into the world in hospitals with nurses that are cruelly neglectful and doctors that are hatefully bigotted? How can we affect change when women are herded through a hospital system designed to give substandard care with substandard nurses filled with poisonous anger towards poor women on public assistance?

How do I reach these women to create a revolution so they demand better? They don't have lawyers or the economics to affect change... what can they fight with? They can't say, "I'm going somewhere else if you don't treat me better." What can they leverage with?

We need to speak for these women. We who have pens and voices. Someone has to say something.

Someone has to say something.

Reader Comments (12)

Speaking for the Silent.

This post reminds me of why I want to be a midwife. When I cannot remember because of the institutional stuff, I will come back to it, time and time again. It is because women who grew up and live in places like I did will know that they do have options, and so that when they feel powerless to speak for themselves I can and will, with their permission, speak for them. Thank you for writing this.

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter"Loving Pecola"

My sentiments exactly. When I was a 15 year old teen mom, I experienced first hand what you are talking about. When I returned to the same hospital 23 years later as a L&D nurse, nothing had changed! I too feel the charge to speak for my sisters whose voices have been silenced.

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaborpayne

This sounds like where I had my first...I wish this was the minority of cases and places but I think most hospitals tend to be like this.

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommentercreepyUCmama

Today in my class, the (nursing/OB) instructor showed a film which, (while showing a lovely, quiet, peaceful unmedicated birth) stated that with birth comes "joy, pain, and some danger." Several of my classmates looked directly at me. I make a Grrrrr "sound" silently with my gritted teeth and fists.

I guess I could say, yes, there is some "danger" depending on where (and with whom) you give birth, since this story you have shared just seems to get worse and worse.

Barb: I do qualify my statement just now by saying I do agree with you when you said, "Part of my horror in this is that this type of un-care is NOT the norm, even in institutionalized care."

I just am reacting to this story.


"Milliner's Dream" wrote:
"...with birth comes 'joy, pain, and some danger.'"

Sure, there's danger in birth. What part of life doesn't involve some risk?

I'm just imagining a video about wedding planning that says "Weddings are a time of joy, pain and some danger. After all, you might be killed in a car accident in the limousine on the way to the reception!"

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I have been a lurker on this blog for sometime now as a L&D nurse, childbirth educator and mother. I love what I do and would hope that people out there would not think that all institutions, physicians and nurses are awful because they aren't. It only takes one bad story, institution, dr, nurse to ruin it for all the good ones out there. I appreciate navelgazing for pointing out that this is not the norm and it embarrasses me to have to be associated with such bad behaviour in my profession. We do not all practice in the ways described.

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I didn't mean to offend, I have worked in and around several institutions as well as been in them as a "patient" and the ones I haven't been in I have listened to the sobbing stories of my violated friends and even some strangers. Perhaps we are speaking of different kinds of situations. You describe an uncare, I describe more of what would be considered brutal physical assault and psychological torture.

I don't have the "balls" to be a midwife or a doula because if I regularly saw what I have regularly heard about and experienced I would probably die from the sadness.

September 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommentercreepyUCmama

I was in a cruel institution with my son's birth, and it did traumatize me. However, I will always remember the kindness of one intern who examined my c-sec scar...I was a trembling terrified mess afraid to let her touch me, and she was so gentle and kind that it brought tears to my eyes. She couldn't make up for the rest, but her kindness shone bright in the darkness around me.

I also remember the one midwife in the practice I used, pregnant herself (!) who silently handed me all my records without being asked and was the only one who didn't try to tell me what I went through was all in my head or all my fault.

Kindness shines brighter in the darkness, that's why we can't give up helping even when we're overwhelmed by the forces against us.

September 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee


I hope you understand that the comment in the film in my nursing class frustrated me no end. I feel birth is normal and so, normally, risk free. And as you said, at any time on a daily basis we face the same kinds of risk we would in birth.

Longtime doula and childbirth educator and sometimes frustrated nursing student

UC Mama: I absolutely disagree that "most" hospitals are like this and unless you have worked in a good cross section of them, I'd encourage not making such a sweeping statement.

Part of my horror in this is that this type of un-care is NOT the norm, even in institutionalized care.

Neglect of a patient's basic needs is not normal.

Indifference to a human's suffering is not normal.

September 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I haven't worked in a huge cross-section of hospitals but I can say from what I have seen that there are REALLY good people and there are those who are just there to get the check. I try to remind people (I have written it on the wipe board for all to see actually) that "Today may just be another day of work for you, but it is the most important day in the lives of our pts."

October 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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