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Anna Rose is a survivor of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Much of the abuse was “submerged” until her mid-thirties, when she was pregnant with her second child, and finally began to remember and deal with the realities of what had happened to her. During her second pregnancy, Anna wrote, “it has taken me more than three years to even begin to deal with the rage I feel about my first birth experience, even though I have been in therapy most of that time. Now that I am pregnant again, the unresolved issues are coming to the surface, and intense fears that this birth will be a repeat of the first.”

Anna's first child, Elliot, was born in 1987 in a hospital birthing room in the northeastern United States. Her husband Paul, a younger sister, and a close friend were present, and she was attended by an obstetrician named Bernie. She describes that birth as “19 hours of hard labor, absolutely exhausting and unmanageable, which required drugs at some point to let me sleep for a few hours.” Labor was induced by Pitocin due to premature rupture of membranes and lack of effective contractions after 12 hours. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring was used throughout labor. Anna breastfed Elliot for three years, and found La Leche League “extremely helpful and supportive” during that time.

Tom, Anna's second child, was born at home in 1991. Two midwives attended the birth after she changed caregivers during the pregnancy because she “did not feel safe enough” with the obstetrician and nurse-midwife team she had chosen for this birth. She maintained the team as backup, although they did not know of her plans for a home birth. Her second labor lasted under 6 hours, was noninterventive, and “incredibly intense and painful, partly due to the abuse memories that were coming up and getting in the way and partly due to the baby's position.”

We thank Anna Rose for sharing her story with Birth. Her reason for doing so is, in her words, because, “I feel strongly that it is important to share this information in an effort to educate health care professionals so that other women may be helped.”