I DON'T NEED HER PERMISSION, 2014, varsity lettering and poppy print (morphine derivative) fabric on canvas, 70 x 36 x 2 inches

I DON'T NEED HER PERMISSION, 2014, varsity lettering and poppy print (morphine derivative) fabric on canvas, 70 x 36 x 2 inches

BIRTH WORDS

It is estimated that one in three women who give birth describe their experience as traumatic.  Birth trauma can occur for a variety of reasons, including lengthy labors, poor pain relief, feelings of loss of control, high levels of medical interventions, impersonal treatment, not being listened to, fear of baby's safety, lack of privacy or dignity, or lack of information or explanation.  (see full list at bottom of page)

Women are increasingly reporting verbal and physical abuse from doctors who perform procedures without informed consent.  PTSD has been increasingly diagnosed in women after childbirth.  Doctors and nurses are abusing their patients with words, bullying behavior, coercion, threatening to call Child Protective Services for not consenting to interventions, and dead baby threats that are not evidence based.  

For this portion of the project I gathered quotes from Improving Birth’s Break the Silence Campaign, where women told their stories of abuse at the hands of their doctors.  I sewed these words onto canvases covered with hospital gown fabric I designed.  Varsity lettering, which is typically used for letter man jackets, was sewn onto the canvas to spell the phrases.  Many of these phrases sound like words a rapist would say to their victim.

Postpartum PTSD Risk factors: (source)

  • Lengthy labor or short and very painful labor
  • Induction
  • Poor pain relief
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • High levels of medical intervention
  • Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency cesarean section
  • Impersonal treatment or problems with the staff attitudes
  • Not being listened to
  • Lack of information or explanation
  • Lack of privacy and dignity
  • Fear for baby's safety
  • Stillbirth
  • Birth of a damaged baby (a disability resulting from birth trauma)
  • Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)

All photos by Jim Prinz