Fasten your seatbelts because this is going to be a bit ranty... but WHY OH WHY are birthing people having to do this?! How many times have I heard birth stories and heard the words “it seemed like a good compromise”...
“I didn’t want any vaginal exams but the midwife suggested having just one when we arrived and it seemed like a good compromise”
“The hospital wouldn’t allow me to have a home birth, so we agreed to give birth on the midwifery led unit as it was a good compromise”
Let’s just hold up! Why are we making compromises in birth? If you’ve spent the time and effort researching your options, stating your preferences and understanding your unique situation, why are people then having to compromise to get any semblance of the birth they wish or deserve? If you’ve specified no VEs (for WHATEVER reason) that doesn’t mean convince me otherwise. For example, a survivor of sexual assault may state no vaginal exams on their birth plan for the obvious reason it would be extremely traumatic and triggering to have one. They also may not wish to make that fact known, or wish to discuss it. Just how upsetting would it then be to have to negotiate in the middle of contractions on whether or not to have a VE, only to feel like “just one” is a “good compromise”.
Look, I’m not so naïve as to not know that often we make these submissions in labour because a) were not up for the fight and b) we are in an extremely vulnerable position during labour and often at the mercy of those who are caring for us. As a society, us British don’t like to make a fuss, or cause offence... and knowing that legally we don’t have to consent to anything in birth, and actually standing up for yourself at the time, are two entirely different things... so I guess my point of this post isn’t so much for those that are pregnant, but for those of us who are providing that care. Yes there are instances where compromise is a genuine and advisable option, but my gut tells me that that isn’t the case in a lot of experiences, and perhaps that needs to change. Compromise shouldn’t be synonymous with birth.