87 comments for “Childbirth can be as stressful as war

  1. jemima101
    September 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    This is where the need for midwives is so important, and another area where NHS cuts are impacting. Because I had a good midwife in an excellent midwifery led unit I was able to confess my fears re the impact abuse might have had on my ability to have a natural birth. It may have been the gas and air talking, but she listened, reassured and basically was the supportive person needed.

    This combined with the respect for my birth plan, the design of the unit (demedicalised, low lighting, parent friendly) empowered me.

  2. Kasabian
    September 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate, “Childbirth can be as stressful as war” is kind of a misleading if not dramatically oversimplified way to state this. I mean, stress is stress, do we really need to put a barometer on it like this? Better would be “Childbirth can cause PTSD”. War can also cause PTSD. Doesn’t exactly make the two equal, correlation =/= causation, etc etc.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but war is day in, day out horror for months, years, decades. Comparing childbirth to war seems maybe a little down-playing towards people who have lived through / are actively living in warzones.

    • September 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Um…yeah. I mean yes, giving birth can suck and can cause genuine bad shit, but let’s not equate that with fucking WAR. It doesn’t make any PTSD suffered by moms any less serious and it doesn’t mean we don’t still need way more support for mothers. It just means that war and childbirth? not so much the same thing.

      • amblingalong
        September 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        Yeah, the title is a bit silly- it comes across as purposefully overstating the article’s case for dramatic appeal. But the article itself is really interesting.

      • September 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        I don’t know. I can get behind the criticism about not conflating “stress” with “trauma”, because they aren’t the same and it’s an unnecessary inaccuracy, but if the title read, “Childbirth can be as traumatizing as war”, then it would literally be true and not an overstatement in the slightest. I don’t see how acknowledging that these are both sources of significant trauma undermines the social significance of war. I don’t see the title as suggesting, “Childbirth = War” – to me it says, “PTSD = PTSD”, which is completely accurate. The symptoms of PTSD can be just as severe regardless of the source of trauma. There *are* factors which influence the likelihood that someone will experience PTSD (I don’t know if these also affect the severity of the symptoms or time to recover – they might, but they might not), but to my knowledge warzone vs. hospital is not one of them.

        (Otherwise good health, financial security, and presence of other life stressors *are* among these factors and you can make the argument that a person living in a warzone is more likely to be experiencing those than, f’r instance, a relatively privileged middle-class white lady in a USian hospital, except that “childbirth” isn’t limited to relatively privileged middle-class white ladies in USian hospitals – childbirth happens all over to people in fairly dire circumstances. And, again, I’m not sure how these impact *severity* of symptoms.)

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 1:16 am

        “Childbirth can be as traumatizing as war”, then it would literally be true and not an overstatement in the slightest.

        I mean, yes, that is literally true, but only in the way “eating bread can be as bad for you as smoking” is true. Some people are gluten-intolerant and some people smoke all their lives and never suffer health consequences, and you could put one of the former in a room with one of the latter and prove your statement. The implication, however, is still misleading.

      • September 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

        How? I honestly don’t see where the statement “childbirth can be as traumatizing as war” is misleading. What is it misleading people to think? Childbirth is obviously *different* from war, but they do overlap in their effects in this one crucial way. War isn’t traumatizing to everyone, childbirth isn’t traumatizing to everyone, but they are both key sources of PTSD for some.

      • September 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

        Actually, the more I think about it, the more frustrated I am that this conversation hasn’t gotten hung up on something so pointless and irrelevant. Did the reported likely chose to make the comparison to war (rather than, say, “Childbirth can be as traumatizing as car accidents”) because it’s more sensational and likely to draw attention? Sure, that’s a thing that happens. It also happens to be more likely to make people think seriously about the impact of post-partum trauma because on the whole people do think that war is more serious and traumatic than “every day” incidents like car accidents and childbirth, even if they are wrong. (Statistically speaking, the more common a potential traumatizing incident is, the greater proportion of PTSD cases it’s going to be accountable for! Although depending on where you live in the world, war is an everyday experience as well.)

        As for this idea that “war” is a man thing and that the comparison is gendered? It blew my mind a little when I read that, because when we think about war trauma, it’s not just soldiers (admittedly predominantly male profession and the article also participates in this misconception in its introduction) we’re talking about – it’s the people who live in warzones who suffer the most, and disproportionately these sufferers are women, who tend to have even less control over their lives than men do in these situations and who are more likely to be suffering additional stressors like sexual assault, lack of financial security, increased childcare burdens, and, hey, traumatic childbirth, maybe! So “war” is not a man-thing. Not at all. Certainly the history of PTSD has focused on male soldiers’ experiences and those experiences are valid, but across the board women are more likely to suffer from PTSD across multiple sources of trauma, including war.

        So, hey, some mainstream reporter didn’t do the best job possible in framing this study. But the majority of that article is about a pretty decent looking study on an important topic – maybe we can talk about that instead, instead of trying to draw impossible lines to police the validity of people’s traumatic experiences?

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm

        So, hey, some mainstream reporter didn’t do the best job possible in framing this study. But the majority of that article is about a pretty decent looking study on an important topic – maybe we can talk about that instead, instead of trying to draw impossible lines to police the validity of people’s traumatic experiences?

        My post:

        Yeah, the title is a bit silly- it comes across as purposefully overstating the article’s case for dramatic appeal. But the article itself is really interesting.

        So we’re on the same page, right?

  3. Geoarch
    September 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I find it not at all shocking that the study found reliable social support helped mitigate against PTSD. There’s so much misogynistic mythology surrounding the transition to motherhood and how you’re magically supposed to transform into a perfect Angel in the House Mommy who’s Always Patient and Nurturing, and if anything in your experience lies outside that ridiculous stereotype, you are officially Bad Mommy material.

    A non-judgmental support system that can validate a woman who’s been traumatized by the birth seems like a no-brainer, but there’s very little of that widely available, at least here in the U.S. The midwifery practice who delivered my kids were able to supply that support but they’re not the norm.

    • tinfoil hattie
      September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

      you’re magically supposed to transform into a perfect Angel in the House Mommy who’s Always Patient and Nurturing, and if anything in your experience lies outside that ridiculous stereotype, you are officially Bad Mommy material.

      SO worth repeating.

  4. PrettyAmiable
    September 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Tiny nitpick, but it’s not stressful things that cause PTSD – it’s traumatic things. I don’t know if we’d want to force a comparison between the stress from childbirth and the stress from war, but if we do – the comparison would be between the reaction had relative to these two events rather than the events themselves.

    Part of my interest in pushing for a distinction is that the narrative around how what I’m experiencing (related to my assault and not childbirth, notably) is totally just like what a vet experiences makes me feel like people need to make “women’s problems” like “men’s problems” in order for them to sound legitimate. (Natural caveats on how people of all genders experience both war and sexual assault and child birth, but hopefully my point is clear).

    • Lolagirl
      September 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      but it’s not stressful things that cause PTSD – it’s traumatic things.

      Did you read the article?

      The point was that birth related trauma can result in PPPTSD. Birth related trauma can consist of numerous things, like crash sections, PPH, and even complications for the fetus, such as hypoxia, dystocia etc. Not to mention the numerous ways in which doctors and hospital staffers so often treat birthing patients in a thoroughy dehumanizing and disrespectful manner.

      There continues to be a huge push here in the U.S. to deny that birth is anything less than sparkly rainbows and for women to accept anything negative or even traumatic that may have happened to them during the birthing process because “all that really matters is having a healthy baby!” The pressure put on women postpartum to be perfect and peaceful Happy Mommy like Geoarch also mentioned above clearly sends the message that they will meet with great disapproval and disapprobation should she ever fess up to suffering from PPD or PTSD. Because only really traumatized people (read men) suffer from PTSD, not lowly, pathetic women who are just whining about how hard it is to birth and care for a baby, boohoo.

      • PrettyAmiable
        September 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        Did you read the article?

        Here’s another thing I didn’t read: the full contents of your comment, after it became obvious to me that you didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what MY comment was about. I’ll help you out, though, even though my brief skimming of your response kind of makes you sound like an asshole. I was responding to the title of this post, which is forcing a comparison between two traumas (whilst calling them “stressful”) which aren’t comparable in any way, other than they result in PTSD. And we keep making that fucking comparison because we seem insistent on perpetuating the myth that the only relevant PTSD is that experienced from a “man cause.”

        Or, you know, whatever you apparently thought I was posting in bad faith. I’m sure some asshole will come and say whatever the fuck it is you think I said, so maybe you can just copy and paste this bullshit into a response for them.

      • Lolagirl
        September 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm

        Wait, so you’re taking issue with the title of the post, in complete disregard for what the article linked in Jill’s post was actually about? And I’m the asshole here?

        You’re the one twisting things and taking them out of context. Because the context is all about the article linked in Jill’s post. Not some torturing of logic to apply PTSD to merely “stressful” events instead of actually traumatic ones. The only person with which you have any issue is Jill for the arguable phrasing of the title. Not me, or the actual meat of the article that Jill was attempting to bring to the attention of Feministe readers.

        But go ahead, fling poop and invective. It still serves only to make you appear uninformed and small minded.

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 1:30 am

        The only person with which you have any issue is Jill for the arguable phrasing of the title. Not me, or the actual meat of the article that Jill was attempting to bring to the attention of Feministe readers… /blockquote>

        Uh, PrettyAmiable started hir post with “tiny nitpick.” And then said basically what you said.

        You’re being an ass.

      • ibbica
        September 30, 2012 at 7:40 am

        The only person with which you have any issue is Jill for the arguable phrasing of the title.

        Er… did anyone else notice that’s just the title of the linked article? No? Oh. Carry on, then.

        (And while I’m here… yeah, Jadey’s comment below pretty much covers anything else I would have said.)

      • Lolagirl
        September 30, 2012 at 7:40 am

        You’re being an ass.

        W.T.F.

        So let me get this straight, I deserve to get attacked with ad homs for disagreeing and not thinking this whole ‘stressful” v “traumatic” debate is that big of a deal? Even though I never stooped myself to name calling or ad hom attacks?

        And everyone wonders why so many people find this to be a ridiculously hostile place to comments.

        If you have something of substance with which to take issue, in anything I actually posted? Why not spell that out instead of the name calling. I may be just as unwilling to back down from my own opinions whenever I express them here, but I sure as hell do it without shouting others down by attacking them personally and engaging in name calling.

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        So let me get this straight, I deserve to get attacked with ad homs for disagreeing and not thinking this whole ‘stressful” v “traumatic” debate is that big of a deal? Even though I never stooped myself to name calling or ad hom attacks?

        Ok. PrettyAmiable said, and I quote, that she had a “TINY NITPICK.” She then explained what that, again, TINY NITPICK was. You responded by questioning whether PrettyAmiable even read the article and explaining what it was about, utterly and thoroughly ignoring a) the topic of her post and b) that she had clearly stated it wasn’t an attack on the article itself, but a TINY NITPICK.

        FFS.

      • PrettyAmiable
        October 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        All of amblingalong. Thanks. I got so rage-filled, I actually couldn’t look here again, but I also really appreciate the discussion in the second thread as well, which makes the points I tried to make in my comment.

    • tinfoil hattie
      September 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

      I was thinking along the same lines, actually – not that childbirth isn’t stressful, or that it is never traumatic, but that it is still considered something outside the “norm” (i.e., men’s experiences in general), so it is treated as an anomaly, a phenomenon, something to be studied from an observer’s point of view.

      In other words, of COURSE childbirth is stressful, and of COURSE it is traumatic in many, many instances – for many reasons. That should not be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about women’s experiences of and the inter-relation of assault, pregnancy, childbirth, post-partum depression, and the utter isolation in which we face the ramifications of same. But it is framed as, “Surprise! Gee, this is TRAUMATIC! And, uh, the only other PTSD example we can pull out of our Book of Memes is WAR and how men suffer from it, so let’s use that as the default comparison!”

      It’s the usual men = default, women = afterthought approach. And it’s tiresome.

      Of course trauma and PTSD from war are horrible. Of course trauma from childbirth is horrible. Of course post-partum psychosis is horrible. But only two of these are considered “normal” and expected.

    • September 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

      PA, I think that the article isn’t discussing the stress of childbirth, but the stress of traumatic childbirth. At which point it’s trauma, no?

  5. MinervaB
    September 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Somehow I don’t think this will make anti-choicers more hesitant to insist that everyone just give birth and give the baby up for adoption. Even though it should.

  6. onetinythought
    September 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Not to mention the numerous ways in which doctors and hospital staffers so often treat birthing patients in a thoroughy dehumanizing and disrespectful manner.

    Well, okay. I feel that I’ve had some experience here, so I want to add a voice.

    I have suffered sexual assault as a teen, as well as some things that happened to me as a little girl which are not yet clear. So, some sensitivity in the crotchal regions.

    Then, pregnant, birthed in another country. Not remotely prepared at all. With my history, shoulda gotten an epidural, but at the time, I thought it was something that “the man” was trying to foist upon me, and so I suffered, by my own choice. When I was completely dilated and pushed and pushed, it was clear that my DD was not coming out with my efforts alone, and so (no epidural, remember) she was born with forceps. 9 lbs.They just about had to sit on me to repair me. And yes, it was traumatic. And yes, I had PTSD, and PPD, had to be hospitalized. Thank god for socialized medicine and visiting public health nurses. I stayed as long as needed, and my daughter went with me to the hospital, stayed in Peds when I was unable to care for her. Eventually got better, was able to go home, and came back to the US.

    After all of this, it took me a few years to want to even think about having another babe. But–went ahead finally, and DS born, again without an epidural, but kinder, gentler nursing and medical staff. No PPD this time. Yay. And successful breastfeeding.

    So–fast forward about 26 years, and now I am a labor and delivery RN in a high-risk Birth Center with a Level III NICU on the floor above us. I have been in the unit for over 10 years. And I can say honestly that I treat every patient (and her family) with kindness, respect, and the most humane care that I can provide. I work with a great team of physicians, midwives, NNPs and RTs. Yes, emergencies can and do happen, and I do my very best to explain what is happening at the time; I also follow up later with opportunities for patients and families to ask questions of me, to help them process events which may have happened rapidly. I am also on it as far as involving other care providers such as social work etc, if the patient has any history of depression, or PPD, or PTSD.

    So please do not make blanket statements about folks who work in hospitals and how patients are treated there. Because some of us have been there, done that, and are trying our best.

    • Lolagirl
      September 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      So please do not make blanket statements about folks who work in hospitals and how patients are treated there. Because some of us have been there, done that, and are trying our best.

      First I am sorry to hear about your traumatic birth experience.

      Second of all, I didn’t make a blanket statement. The very piece you pulled from my comment and quoted above did include a qualifier so that it would not read as a blanket condemnation of medical professionals:

      Not to mention the numerous ways in which doctors and hospital staffers so often treat birthing patients in a thoroughy dehumanizing and disrespectful manner. (emphasis added)

      Finally, as a woman who experienced birth trauma herself, it’s disturbing that you appear so inclined to dismiss other birthing patients and the trauma they may have experienced. I commend you and others like you for trying your best to treat patients with respect and dignity (and I do not say that with any sarcasm.) However, you are only one group of professionals in one facility. I personally experienced significant birth trauma when I delivered my twins nearly 8 years ago. Last year, I also experienced reprehensibly disrespectful treatment by several doctors and nurses during my most recent pregnancy and delivery. All of these experiences took place in a major University hospital in a large city, for whatever that’s worth.

      I’m not simply throwing out arbitrary criticism to malign the medical profession. I’m speaking from first hand experience. Perhaps it also colors my opinion to a certain extent that I also used to work as a medical malpractice defense attorney. I’ve seen some of the worst case scenarios played out in both my own and in others lives. Doctors, nurses and other paraprofessionals are only human, they can and do make mistakes, and they bring plenty of their own personal opinions and prejudices to the table along with them.

      So I would ask that you please not presume that I am ignorant or motivated by malice. My frame of reference is simply different from yours, end of story.

    • sabrina
      September 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      the system you work for is broken. One person not being a terrible person does very little to improve conditions for all the women, especially when even the number you do see still have other nurses and doctors who aren’t doing their best to not traumatize women. The only way the system is going to improve is for women to talk about the trauma that hospitals have put them through, and to seek out alternatives.

    • Henry
      October 1, 2012 at 1:17 am

      Thank you. Tired of seeing doctors and nurses demonized as a class in the comments. It’s become so routine I don’t even notice it anymore..but it’s there, a status based offense committed merely by being a member of the medical profession.

  7. karak
    September 29, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I just want to say:

    Having a baby can be as stressful as a major car accident, NOT war. The main cause of PTSD is actually car accidents.

    I’m not trying to minimize women who have PTSD because of events during or surrounding their birth–it’s a perfect storm of what causes PTSD. Unexpected physical trauma, done to your body, by other human beings is the number one description of PTSD cases.

    But I’m not going to say that a birth is the same as being a civilian or even a soldier in hostile territory for weeks, months, or years, it’s just not. Women are the biggest targets, and victims, in a war, and the suffering of women in wartime conditions, is often overlooked and dismissed.

    • Lolagirl
      September 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

      But I’m not going to say that a birth is the same as being a civilian or even a soldier in hostile territory for weeks, months, or years, it’s just not.

      Well it’s a good thing then that nobody is actually making a blanket claim that birthing is always as traumatic as and thus analogous to wartime experiences. From the article Jill linked above:

      “There’s a perception that post-traumatic stress symptoms result from an event that’s unusual or outside the realm of normal human experience,” said Deborah Da Costa, a McGill psychologist who co-authored the study.

      “But there are things that can happen in the birthing process that can make a woman feel like her life or her baby’s life are in jeopardy. She experiences helplessness, fear, horror. That’s enough for an experience to be traumatic.”

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and opine that birthing patients who actually do face life threathening circumstances themselves and/or for their babies are even more likely to experience helplessness, fear and horror, and yes, actual non-melodramatic trauma as a result of those circumstances. So, what, we tell them that because they are never facing horror on the scale of those experiencing wartime first hand that they are not entitled to be traumatized or experience PTSD?

      I agree with Tinfoil Hattie above, the only reason that the war analogy gets made is because we here in the U.S. are generally only familiar with it in the context of soldiers after they have returned from war. It’s unfortunate, because it seems as though the discussion is going to digress into a sort of opression olympics of who has it worse. Because of course the only people who could possibly be truly traumatized to the level of experiencing PTSD are civilians and soldiers (that is, men) in wartime circumstances. Not a bunch of first world, whiny women complaining about how their birth experiences scarred them for life.

      Which then only serves to provide further support to the culture of silence that prevents women from ever acknowledging their PPD or PTSD or getting treatment for it.

    • chava
      September 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Eh. I think it depends on the birth. A raped woman giving birth in a war zone with severe complications is probably going to be pretty traumatized. A woman with a postpartum hemorrhage who has to have the doctor stick his/her fist into the uterus w/o drugs, then has a stillbirth to boot, is going to be up there are well.

      My point is, it’s a little silly to start the business of “such and such a category of trauma is worse than such and such a category trauma.” It depends on the situation and the people involved. Especially when part of the trauma of war for civilian women is so tied up in sexual violence, birth, and children.

      • September 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        Yeah, the thing with PTSD is that its symptomology doesn’t rank *itself* in terms of any hierarchy like that – the experience, while it occurs in a social context, is still a personal one. A person who has PTSD from a car accident can be suffering just as much as a person with PTSD from being in a war. Hell, a person who has been *in* war might still get PTSD from a car accident! And could theoretically have even worse symptoms from the latter depending on how the experience actually happened and what it meant to them. For instance, there are findings that car *passengers* tend to have a greater risk than car *drivers* for developing PTSD following an accident, the theory being that as a passenger you have less control over what happened and therefore it’s harder to cope with and reconcile what happened. Feelings of a loss of control are common to car accidents, childbirth, war, and many other potentially traumatic incidents, but theoretically a person could endure a war under circumstances in which they feel more in control than they would in childbirth or in a car accident, so the fact that a war is technically more unusual and dangerous than giving birth or being in a car accident wouldn’t necessarily matter. (Although undoubtedly being in a war absolutely often makes people feel like they have absolutely no control, hence trauma – I’m just presenting a hypothetical to illustrate how the social meaning of a traumatic experience is not always as relevant as the personal meaning of it.)

        Psychological trauma doesn’t follow social rules – it’s about personal perception of and reaction to an event, not just its larger social meaning (although it should also be noted that social stressors like lack of finances, health problems or other difficulties can absolutely deplete personal coping resources and also increase susceptibility to PTSD in that way). So there is absolutely no point at all to ranking traumatizing experiences based on how traumatizing we think they *ought* to be – it depends on the person who has experienced the event and what it means to them.

    • October 1, 2012 at 2:16 am

      But I’m not going to say that a birth is the same as being a civilian or even a soldier in hostile territory for weeks, months, or years, it’s just not. Women are the biggest targets, and victims, in a war, and the suffering of women in wartime conditions, is often overlooked and dismissed.

      I guess it’s possible there might be a big difference between PTSD acquired over a long period of time and PTSD acquired from a single traumatic incident. However I don’t see how that’s even relevant.

    • White Rabbit
      October 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      @karak

      The main cause of PTSD is actually car accidents.

      Do you have a citation for that? I’ve never heard that before, and I can’t find a reference online.

  8. DonnaL
    September 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    [Trigger note and content warning for descriptions of trauma]

    Yeah, the thing with PTSD is that its symptomology doesn’t rank *itself* in terms of any hierarchy like that

    Agreed. It doesn’t make sense to me to try to rank it like that; the severity of the symptoms doesn’t necessarily correlate neatly with the presumed severity of the underlying trauma. It really does just amount to playing Oppression Olympics.

    I’ve never lived in a war zone, and, to my eternal regret (not that I’d ever say so to my son, of course), I’ve never had the opportunity to give birth to child and never will.

    But I’ve gone through my fair share of what I believe can be considered “legitimate trauma” (to coin an Akinesque phrase), all of which has strongly affected me, and I doubt that I’ve ever completely gotten over any of it. But whether my reaction to any of it (short-term or long-term) qualifies technically as PTSD or not (I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never consulted with anyone about that particular question), I certainly don’t think the severity of the effects has followed any particular pattern.

    Look, just growing up as the child of a Holocaust survivor was traumatizing for me in many ways. So was seeing a man who had been decapitated seconds earlier (but whose eyes were still open and seemingly looking at me), lying a few feet away from me on the other side of the back door to our apartment, when I was 9 years old and opened the door because I heard a loud coughing sound. So was being repeatedly sexually abused by a doctor in my early teens. So was being a passenger in a car driven by my mother when she got in an accident on the Cross-Bronx Expressway resulting in her death, when I was 20. (I still can’t look, and sometimes get flashbacks, when I pass an accident while driving or there’s a car accident in a movie or on TV.) So has been suffering from an incurable chronic illness the last 30+ years, complete with all sorts of horrible pain and horrible surgeries and horrible surgical complications and a variety of near-death experiences. So was the aftermath of my GRS, only a fraction of which I’ve spoken about here, or ever will. And I would hope that even those of you who are cis can understand how permanently traumatizing it can be to grow up trans in this world.

    And so on.

    But I can’t honestly say that any of that was more traumatizing to me than what it was like when my ex had to undergo an emergency C-section after I saw our son’s heartbeat go down to almost nothing on the fetal monitor, because, as it turned out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Just the act of writing that down makes my pulse start racing, all these years later. I’m not suggesting that what I felt was the same as what my ex went through. I didn’t give birth to him. But he was my baby too.

    I wouldn’t try to rank all of these things (Step right up, hear all about it, Donna’s Top 10 Traumas!), and don’t think it’s right to do so.

  9. DonnaL
    September 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Long comment in moderation, the short version of which is that I agree with Jadey.

    • onetinythought
      September 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Second that.

  10. Alanc
    September 30, 2012 at 3:08 am

    This says as common, not as stressful

  11. Lolagirl
    September 30, 2012 at 8:07 am

    OK, so fine, there is no point to discussing post-partum PTSD. Because Jill and the author of the article start out by using the word stressful, and then appeared to conflate the word stressful with the word traumatic. Then they both further undermined the case for sounding the alarm over PPPTSD, by comparing childbirth to war.

    I guess that about sums it up.

    And now I’ll get called names, once again, and the circular firing squad will go on and on until the original point of Jill’s post and the article she linked will be lost entirely.

    • September 30, 2012 at 8:20 am

      No. Do you seriously think I’m going to go into explanatory details about what happened? It’s kind of a Trans 101 thing, you know, that you should assume that if a trans person shares something about their anatomical configuration, they shared exactly that much information deliberately, and weren’t fishing for further interrogation.

      C’mon Lola, no one is singing you out here, and no one is trying to put an end to the discussion. PrettyAmiable had a minor quibble (which she admitted was a ‘tiny nitpick’) and you responded to her as if she disagreed with the premise of the article and/or was trying to shut discussion down. She was doing neither of those things, merely pointing out the difference between stress and trauma and pointing out why the distinction was important to her.

      Now, I agree there’s no need to call you an ‘ass’ or the even more disgusting variation ‘asshole’, as Pretty and ambling did, but looking past that, their comments about your massive over-reaction to a mild criticism of word choice were all extremely valid in my opinion.

      • September 30, 2012 at 8:21 am

        aaaargh, finally got the nesting right and fucked up the block quote!

        That was not a response to you Donna, even though I quoted you

        I’m going back to bed.

        :(

      • Lolagirl
        October 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

        C’mon Lola, no one is singing you out here, and no one is trying to put an end to the discussion.

        First of all, I never did the boohoo, why is everyone picking on me.

        Second of all, despite my efforts and efforts of others to say, ok, the word choice may not have been the best, but can we try and get the convo back on track? The conversation is still going around and around the HDU compare war to childbirth! sidetrack.

        While it may not have intentionally started out as shutting down the discussion, it certainly has had that effect.

    • September 30, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Lolagirl, fwiw I thought that thread descended into nastiness weirdly quickly. WEirdly as in “you didn’t say anything that wrong” quickly. And I totally agree with you and Tinfoil.

      • Lolagirl
        September 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

        Thanks, Mac.

        I’ve been quite open in other threads here at Feministe that I experienced PPD after my most recent pregnancy, and that I felt a great deal of social pressure to neither acknowledge it nor do anything about it. I can only imagine that for people who experience PPPTSD they may very well feel a similar sort of pressure to deny what they are experiencing. (Note that I am in no way equating my relatively mild PPD with PTSD. That isn’t the point.) It’s a shame that this discussion got side tracked and then stomped into the ground instead of providing a jumping off point to further delve into the issue of PPPTSD. Because it is a feminist issue, and it doesn’t get nearly enough attention or thoughful discussion.

    • EG
      September 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      I agree with you, Lolagirl, as I usually do about birth and parenting issues. Oh, the comparison isn’t perfect? So what? As I recall, when I brought up what many people who have experienced it refer to as “birthrape,” the whole focus was on the term rather than the experience as well. Words matter, but not to the exclusion of everything else, for pete’s sake. Would it be possible to talk about the deeply upsetting and sometimes traumatizing experiences many women go through when giving birth that we have no cultural acknowledgment of except for that of individual pathology (PPD and hormone swings)? I’d love to see a study of PPD and PPPTSD rates that compares rates for women who make different birthing choices, controlled of course for risk-level etc. But doing that would acknowledge that the laboring woman’s experiences and environment matter.

      • Safiya Outlines
        September 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

        Sadly, it would appear that round these parts, mothers are the women it’s ok to accuse of being whiny liars. I cannot believe the terminology nitpicking.

        How dare these women claim that something horrific happened to them! Other people (men, men, men menly men) have far worse things happen.

        Look folks, I know not alllll women are mothers or parents, but lots are and they should get to sit on the bus of feminist concerns too, otherwise what is the point?

        Before anyone says “Oh but I didn’t mean…”, or the latest, “You can’t read!”, if your first response to reading about women having horrific experiences (which are often embedded in and encouraged by a societal lack of concern for maternity care), is to complain about word choice, you need to sit down and take some time to think. I’d say STFU+L, but considering the shit that gets thrown at mothers here, there probably won’t be many around to comment, which is a terrible shame.

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        Sadly, it would appear that round these parts, mothers are the women it’s ok to accuse of being whiny liars.

        Wow, someone said that on Feministe? Where?

      • September 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        if your first response to reading about women having horrific experiences (which are often embedded in and encouraged by a societal lack of concern for maternity care), is to complain about word choice, you need to sit down and take some time to think. I’d say STFU+L, but considering the shit that gets thrown at mothers here, there probably won’t be many around to comment, which is a terrible shame.

        I don’t know if that’s an accurate description of what Pretty Amiable did and therefore I don’t feel it’s a suitable retort or, indeed, fair at all. Pretty made it clear that her ‘complaint about word choice’ was a semantic point that was nonetheless important to her based on her experience of having been assaulted. I don’t agree that she needs ‘to sit down and take some time to think.’ Even less that she should ‘STFU.’ (We could a L a bit more…)

      • Bagelsan
        September 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm

        Wow, someone said that on Feministe? Where?

        In all fairness… I’ll say that she’s kind of both whining and lying right now? XD

  12. samanthab
    September 30, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Postpartum depression affects up to 15% of women, per the CDC. It’s much more common than 1 in 13. I think the post-natal trauma issue unquestionably deserves more attention, but the reporting on that piece does not impress me.

  13. Rozy
    September 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hi, I am glad this article was written because there needs to be more compassion and support for women that go through this. I think that would be me if I chose to give birth. I am very sensitive and already am severely mentally ill. Not choosing to have children. When my mom was in the hospital giving birth to me a nurse was downright verbally abusive because my mom didn’t want to breast feed.

  14. Lolagirl
    September 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    But the majority of that article is about a pretty decent looking study on an important topic – maybe we can talk about that instead, instead of trying to draw impossible lines to police the validity of people’s traumatic experiences?

    This whole turn in the discussion is like a bunch of insurance adjustors, sitting in their cubicles, sizing up the extent of someone else’s experiences in order to determine if they meet some artificial threshold for sufficient traumatization. Crash c-section but now mother and baby are fine? Not traumatizing. Crash section and now mom no longer has any feeling from her belly button to her labia, but still the baby is fine? Mildly traumatic but still not traumatic enough. Near death experience for mom and dead baby? Well, finally, a pretty bad outcome, we’ll begrudge her the classification of well and truly traumatized.

    How anyone can sit and decide that they know better than the person experiencing the trauma whether or not they are in actual fact traumatized is beyond me. It may seem at first glance that equating a traumatic birth to wartime experiences as an apples versus oranges endeavor, but how can an outsider really know that with such utter certainty. Is it really that difficult to put oneself in another’s shoes and realize that their personal experience was truly, horrifically traumatizing?

    • September 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      It happens with triggers too. Some people develop really unexpected and idiosyncratic triggers (like red tablecloths or the smell of oatmeal) for their trauma because of the associative nature of the human brain – Pavlovian conditioning and all that. But I’ve seen plenty of ignorant people dismiss these triggers because they “don’t make sense” or “aren’t serious”. (Note: These are not the kinds of triggers that can be warned for reliably so let’s not get into that derail, if anyone was so inclined.) Trauma is weird. The human brain is weird. It does not operate in ways that can be easily governed or categorized. We don’t fully understand why people develop PTSD sometimes and don’t other times, even in really severe situations. For instance, natural disasters tend *not* to produce as much PTSD, I think the theory being that while people can’t control these events, they at least suffer them together and can come together to support each other, and there’s an explanation of what happened and why. But there are exceptions too – Hurricane Katrina apparently resulted in a lot of PTSD, although not so much for the hurricane itself but the aftermath, a lot of which was not a “natural” disaster at all. (My source on this last is iffy and more media-based than research-based, though – open to correction.)

      I think a lot of what’s happened on this thread has to do with the very pervasive mindset of, “Pfft, childbirth – it’s not *that* bad. Suck it up.” Seriously, even if you (general you, not you, Lolagirl!) don’t consciously endorse that sentiment, it’s incredibly prevalent and I’ll bet it’s playing a role here. We’re just so used to dismissing women’s pain, especially as it factors into “women’s” reproductive organs (obviously, uterus /= woman in practice). The same thing happens with menstrual disorders.

      • amblingalong
        September 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

        The human brain is weird. It does not operate in ways that can be easily governed or categorized.

        Yeah, this cannot be overstated. Failure to understand this underlies so many problems.

        But there are exceptions too – Hurricane Katrina apparently resulted in a lot of PTSD, although not so much for the hurricane itself but the aftermath, a lot of which was not a “natural” disaster at all.

        For what it’s worth, there is a fairly large body of research which suggests that PTSD is particularly like to occur when the traumatic incident is attached to a daily routine- that is, driving a car, eating a meal, walking by a certain building on your way home, whatever. Things that happen in situations completely outside the scope of that normal routine can still cause PTSD (obviously) but are somewhat less likely to do so. An example is that people who are mugged while traveling in other countries are much less likely to develop PTSD than people who are mugged in their own communities.

      • synna
        September 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        Interpersonal trauma, that is, traumatic events caused by humans towards other humans is generally thought of as to be more traumatising than non-interpersonal trauma, ie natural disasters. That’s not to say that people can’t have ptsd following a non-ipt event, just that the rates are different. Some thoughts on why this is, is that its the betrayal when one human hurts another which exacerbates the traumatic-ness (I’ll make up words if I want!) of the event. Thus, ptsd is more likely.

        And as Jadey said, the grief and experience of a natural disaster is validated by society, so people can openly support each other. Where, with birth trauma or any IPT, the whole weight of the patriarchy/society comes down on the person to judge their alleged suffering, leaving many people invalidated, and unable to process their trauma.

        Jadey, I would suspect that it was the IPT after hurricane Katrina which caused the trauma/ptsd as you said, rather than the hurricane itself, for the reasons I’ve stated above.

  15. Really?
    September 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    If childbirth is as stressful as war then why don’t other stats bear this out? Why is the post birth suicide rate not as high as the veteran suicide rate? The veteran suicide rate is terrifyingly high. What about the rate of alcohol and drug abuse? Homelessness? 1/7 homeless persons are veterans. We could pull statistic after statistic definitively disproving the title of this article.

    Wait, is that because childbirth *isn’t* as stressful as war? Yeah, that’s what I thought. This is such an inappropriate comparison, it kind of has a whiff of First World Problems to me. Why not just make your point without trying to diminish and insult what soldiers go through in combat? Never mind soldiers, civilians in a war zone. Is living in a war zone less “stressful” than childbirth now? Here’s the strange thing. People desperately flee from war zones. They put up with terrible treatment and suffer atrocities to GET OUT. If childbirth is as stressful as war, wouldn’t fewer people be getting pregnant? Like if this was literally true, wouldn’t women be refusing to carry children? How can this possibly be true?

    • EG
      September 30, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      If childbirth is as stressful as war, wouldn’t fewer people be getting pregnant? Like if this was literally true, wouldn’t women be refusing to carry children? How can this possibly be true?

      You’ll note that as soon as women can control birthrates, they drop.

      Ah, yes. First world problems. Pain, immobilization, life-threatening complications, I mean, everybody knows those only affect wealthy white women, right? Like, in third world countries, women just squat down and pop kids out no problemo, right? It’s not like it’s a leading cause of death for women or anything. It’s not like it can lead to lifelong medical conditions. Everyone knows that.

      • chava
        September 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm

        Higher risk of domestic abuse that at any other time in a woman’s life, risk of PPD, PPOCD, and oh yeah, those life threatening complications EG mentioned.

      • chava
        September 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

        Also?

        Here’s the strange thing. People desperately flee from war zones. They put up with terrible treatment and suffer atrocities to GET OUT.

        Yeah, so pre-Roe? Women would often be raped or assaulted by abortion providers, to say nothing of the potentially deadly physical consequences, the expense, or the (also potentially deadly) consequences if a parent or partner found out what they had done.

    • DonnaL
      October 1, 2012 at 12:07 am

      Have you not been reading what everyone has been writing, Really? Of course living through war and genocide can be severely traumatizing, not only to the people directly involved but to future generations, as I mentioned in my comment above in the context of being the child of a Holocaust survivor (See http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/09/28/childbirth-can-be-as-stressful-as-war/#comment-529724). But the same is true of many other things, as I also know from unfortunately comprehensive personal experience, and it really doesn’t matter to the person suffering where the cause of their trauma ranks on a scale of global importance. If you’ve never had a baby almost die during the childbirth process (and I hate to sound like such a broken record, but you don’t even have to be the parent giving birth to be affected); if you’ve never had life-threatening medical complications, you’re very fortunate. But don’t be so sneeringly dismissive about it. I just can’t believe some of the comments on this thread, even though (thankfully) it’s been from a small minority.

    • shfree
      October 1, 2012 at 12:39 am

      And this whole thing smacks of “You don’t have it as bad as such and such, so quit complaining.” I don’t see why I am not allowed to feel any sort of lingering emotional pain from having my daughter not breathing on birth, then watching the neonatal pediatrician swoop her away before I can even touch her to intubate her just because someone else experienced something worse than me. Because it’s been fourteen years since it’s happened, and it still feels like a punch in the fucking gut, you asshole.

    • Really?
      October 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

      So refusing to equate something with war = sneeringly dismissive? So even if I agree that childbirth is Bad and Traumatic and Terrible, unless it’s as bad as War, it’s not Really Bad. That is ridiculous oppression olympics nonsense.

      But, ok. I’ve got it. Childbirth is as bad as war. I’m glad we all agree. Next question, which war? Can we include genocides in this? I think we can all agree that childbirth is *probably* as traumatic as the Holocaust? Rwandan Genocide? Apartheid? Slavery?

      If we can’t analogize it to someone else’s pain, it’s not real pain!

      • EG
        October 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        But, ok. I’ve got it. Childbirth is as bad as war.

        No. Childbirth can be as traumatic as war.

        I can see how you’d have problems if you can’t see the difference between those two statements, though.

      • Lolagirl
        October 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

        Really, you seem to have a problem with wanting to talk in extremes and absolutes. Which is precisely why you are unable to grasp the discussion at hand.

        Here’s a handy little primer for you:

        When people speak in conditional language, it’s because they are acknowledging that whatever is being discussed isn’t an absolute or guaranteed.

        Saying that something may be as traumatic as something else? That’s a conditional phrasing, and thus does not mean that it is always as traumatic.

        What you are attempting to do, Really, is use absolutist language, without allowing for any exceptions or outliers to the discussion. That’s obfuscation, or an attempt to muddy the waters to such an extent that there can no longer be any reasonable dicussion of the matter at hand. Which makes you a troll.

        See that, I just used absolutist language in its proper context. Because it is absolutely clear that trolling is all you are attempting to do.

      • Donna L
        October 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

        I think EG is being way too nice here, Really. Because so far as I can tell, either you’re a troll deliberately misrepresenting what people have written, or you didn’t bother reading or trying to understand what people have actually said.

        Do you think, Really, that in my comment up above I truly intended to write that childbirth — or, in my case, just being present at a very difficult childbirth during which your baby was deprived of oxygen — is as traumatic as, say, being in a car when you’re 20 years old and your mother gets in an accident and dies as a result? Or seeing a man decapitated when you’re 9 years old? Or being the child of a Holocaust survivor? Or growing up trans? Or being chronically and severely ill for more than 30 years and having all sorts of horrible near-death experiences? Or, instead, that all of them can be traumatic, and it’s pointless and idiotic to try to rank them?

      • Donna L
        October 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Fuck. I don’t know why my comments in this thread keep going into moderation whenever I mention more than one trauma I’ve experienced at a time. Maybe if I’d left out the reference to something specific I saw when I was 9, I’d be having better luck. My point, though, is that Really is very clearly a troll.

    • MrRabbit
      October 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

      The comparison is not to childbirth, but to traumatic childbirth. And the rates of depression are very high after traumatic childbirth. Also, women do choose not to give birth (when they have that choice). What I take away from the article is that someone in a war zone may develop PTSD and someone experiencing traumatic childbirth may also develop PTSD. And that for treatment purposes it is really important to realise this.

  16. Really?
    September 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    My post keeps getting eaten so I’ll say this more briefly. Veterans report much greater rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide than pregnant women. Their “trauma” is simply not comparable.

    • September 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Yeah, no. See all above.

      No one said that there aren’t other negative consequences to being in a warzone (in fact, I took pains to say the opposite), but you still misunderstand the nature of trauma. We are also talking about PTSD, not depression, suicide, or substance abuse, which have different etiologies than PTSD.

    • September 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Veterans report much greater rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide than pregnant women. Their “trauma” is simply not comparable.

      Yes, because higher rates are more important than higher numbers, because there are as many veterans as pregnant/birth-giving people in society. Riiighty-o.

      • Really?
        October 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

        1. That makes no sense. Just because something has higher numbers doesn’t make it as potent as something with higher rates. So, it doesn’t make it “as stressful” as war because there are more pregnant women than veterans. It’s like saying bleach is as poisonous as toothpaste, because if you eat 1000 tubes of toothpaste, it would probably poison you, as would one cup of bleach.

        2. Veterans are so massively overrepresented in mental health stats that when you take all trauma into account (suicide, stress etc) it wouldn’t surprise me if they were the greater numbers. They account for 1 out of 7 of those homeless.

      • October 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm

        Christfuck. You really don’t understand CAN BE, do you? Childbirth CAN BE as stressful as war. Birthing people who’ve had traumatic experiences CAN GET PTSD at equivalent or greater rates to veterans.

  17. igglanova
    September 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Well, at least the fact that the comment section descended mostly into quibbling over terminology seems to indicate that terminology was the only thing we figured was a point of contention. I think we can all agree that birth-related PTSD is an underdiscussed issue that deserves more attention than it gets.

    • Alphabet
      September 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Reading all the comments, I was really expecting at least one person to chime in with a dismissive “but women have been doing this for thousands of years, so let’s not exaggerate.” That usually gets thrown out there at some point. So perhaps in this thread it really is the terminology that people are stuck on. That is a positive, I guess.

      • Bagelsan
        September 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

        I usually hear that “it’s totes all-natural!” stuff from the crunchy crowd, and they probably would like this study, so hopefully we’re safe… *crosses fingers*

    • igglanova
      September 30, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Aaaand as soon as I posted this, we get a real winner released from the mod queue. Moving on, then.

  18. Lolagirl
    October 1, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I think a lot of what’s happened on this thread has to do with the very pervasive mindset of, “Pfft, childbirth – it’s not *that* bad. Suck it up.” Seriously, even if you (general you, not you, Lolagirl!) don’t consciously endorse that sentiment, it’s incredibly prevalent and I’ll bet it’s playing a role here. We’re just so used to dismissing women’s pain, especially as it factors into “women’s” reproductive organs (obviously, uterus /= woman in practice). The same thing happens with menstrual disorders.

    This pretty much sums it up to me as well, Jadey.

    Whether it be the internalized sexism of our society, or the pushback against “mother earth” rhetoric, I think there is an inclination towards dismissing childbirth and the experiences that can happen along the way at play in this back and forth over war! is not like childbirth! discussion.

    And I still go back to my earlier point that, even though one may think they may judge how traumatic an even was for another person, there is still no way to honestly make such an assertion. Because people are all different, and their brains don’t all work the same way or process life events in the same way. Sitting back and waving away someone’s experience because subjective you doesn’t really think it could have been traumatic is insulting and unfairly dismissive. End of story.

    And the reality that women are the people experiencing both the trauma and the dismissive waving away of the aftermath? That should be what gets nitpicked and pulled apart and stomped into the ground. Because it’s sexism, with a nasy side of misogyny thrown in.

  19. Anonymous for this
    October 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I’ve been under treatment for PTSD on and off for a couple of decades years. My first birth was very traumatic, and it compounded the PTSD symptoms I was already experiencing from the fallout of sexual assault. My most recent pregnancy was part of a series of catastrophes (baby and I are fine! all things considered) that included a botched c-section where a pelvic nerve was damaged and the disappearance of my partner. I can’t speak to the statistics linked above, but my personal experience is that if you have pre-existing PTSD, that pregnancy and childbirth is a time in which PTSD women are very, very vulnerable. Your body feels out of your control, people are climbing up the walls to tell you what to do, how to be, and who you are, and you are more dependent on other people than you are normally. It’s also an emotional roller coaster, just so extremely overwhelming. It’s not a difficult stretch for me to see how an otherwise composed woman could come out the other side of pregnancy having experienced significant trauma.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      October 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Anon. I feel like this was the discussion I wanted to see. Prior to reading this, I didn’t really think about the effect pre-existing PTSD, sexual assault, or trauma would have on the experience of birthing. It makes complete sense that pre-existing PTSD would make a person extremely vulnerable during the pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting experience. You are so right that people seem to feel like they now have the right to tell you what to do and how to do it.

      For me, my first pregnancy caused me a great deal of depression (pre-partum depression, maybe). I don’t even think I realized how despondent I had been feeling until I finally felt better (when the pregnancy was over). The pregnancy was just one terrible complication and disaster after another and I was on bedrest nearly the entire time. Prior to that, I was a practicing attorney in the city and I was really physically active. The pregnancy was not planned (not unwanted, per se, but I’ll just say it wasn’t timed well) and I know that contributed. During the pregnancy I was told I’d be “lucky” if I made it past the 30 wk mark and that it would be nearly impossible to go past 35 wks. I was so worried that I was going to go through all of this just to lose the baby or have a child in the NICU that struggled to survive (which, I know, happens to many people). What made it much harder is that THE ENTIRE PREGNANCY everyone kept saying, “You are so lucky to even be pregnant.” “This pregnancy is a miracle. Just thank God for every day.” “This is a gift.” It made me feel like I had no right to feel depressed and upset. It didn’t feel like a gift. It felt like a punishment. Made me feel like I was ALREADY a bad mother to even feel conflicted about the pregnancy and worried about my own health, as well as having a healthy baby. I made it to 37 wks and I was in so much pain pretty much the entire time. I had to have a vertical incision C-section/myomectomy (the scar is nearly six inches long) and I got two bags of blood. The internal cut on my uterus was such that I could never hope to have a VBAC. It ended up being okay in the end, but the pregnancy was just awful and, yes, I think ‘traumatic’ would be the right word.

      I think part of why its so hard to talk about this is because there is ALWAYS a worse story out there and women are always told to be THANKFUL that it wasn’t worse. Thankful that we experienced pregnancy, thankful we survived it, thankful we have children…etc. And, the truth it, we can be thankful for all of those things and at the same time acknowledge how hard it can be and how hard it IS, for many women. Why can’t pregnancy be ‘natural’ and ‘beautiful’ for some and agonizing and horrible for others? We are all different and we all experience things differently. When our experiences are silenced by statements like, “well, you are lucky, I know someone who…” it really keeps us from healing from sharing our stories and seeings that we are not alone.

  20. spot
    October 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Would it make any difference to the survivors here if the article was headlined, “Childbirth can be as stressful as rape”?

    • October 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      It is completely accurate to say, “Childbirth can be as traumatic as rape.”

      • shfree
        October 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

        And I will highlight the important word here, for the jackass who is trolling. CAN. CAN. Not always, and no one here has ever said that childbirth is always and for every single woman traumatic.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        October 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        Exactly. Thank you! My sexual assault was horrible. My first pregnancy and birth was horrible, but in a different way. My second pregnancy was awesome and the birth was just fine. Why are people so hung up on making these ridiculous statements?

    • Lolagirl
      October 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Would it make any difference to the survivors here if the article was headlined, “Childbirth can be as stressful as rape”?

      This has got to be the dumbest attempts at a gotcha I’ve possibly ever seen here on Feministe.

      Rape? A horrible thing suffered by women that has the potential to cause life altering emotional trauma.

      Childbirth? Something women (as well as trans men) do which has the potential to go horribly wrong and cause life altering emotional trauma.

      The repeated effort by a couple of trolls here to gotcha their way into getting women to either prioritize or quantify their suffering or the suffering of others is repugnant and insulting. Either come up with something intelligent and insightful to add to the discussion or get lost already.

  21. Tramenilla
    October 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    There doesn’t seem to be any information regarding the demographics of the 300 Canadian women they based this study on.

    I’d be really interested to see if these effects were higher or lower in the developing world, or in lower-income communities.

  22. Silje
    October 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Pregnancy and child birth is very powerful lessons in that you do not control your own life. And when it is all over and you see it for what it is: a very empowering thing to have gone through.

    • EG
      October 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      It’s great that this was your experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s everybody’s.

      • tinfoil hattie
        October 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm

        I’d say the first part is pretty accurate. Childbirth is indeed one of the things we cannot “control,” no matter how much the birth plans and books and internet fora and stories of other people’s births tell us we can. It can go haywire at any given second.

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