Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Dear Ms. Birthkeeper" - A message from the PowerBirth founder:

I received this today, and from what I understand about dealing with bullies who like to feel they can intimidate people, I am responding in a public manner instead of dealing privately.

Hi Ms. Birthkeeper,
I pray that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with you and heal you from whatever it is that makes you so unhappy that you feel the need to attack me and PowerBirth the way you and your peers have done for the last two years!
You really do not understand what it is that you are doing and how wrong you are in what you write and make the world believe, which I can tell you in truth, is wrong!
Know this, though, that for every negative untruth you speak or write about me, it will be turned around and used for good- in ways you don't even understand.
I pray for your healing!
Lydi Owen

The people who need prayers, are the many women who have been traumatized - both physically and emotionally - from your technique. The women who need prayer are the ones who have ended up with recurring nightmares of what was done to them at the hands of you, and the Midwives like you, during what should have been a beautiful and peaceful time in their lives. Thankfully because of more women coming out with the truth, more are able to see that they are not alone and can begin to heal. Or the ones who had experiences like this and were happy with it, because they didn't know any better, can see that what was done to them was *wrong*. Just like the women who have cesareans or traumatic births in the hospital for no good reason, and don't know that there could have been better. They are simply happy to be alive, and to have a healthy baby.

There is not one ounce of untruth in what I have written or spoken about - nor in any of the birth stories of the women who have been greatly harmed. It is shameful that their stories have been twisted, manipulated, and pointed out as being lies. Women have and are still coming forward with their stories. All along the same lines. Complications that have been twisted to say that there was cause to intervene - when all the while they were in fact iatrogenic. Control by the Midwife. Hands violently shoved into their vagina for every contraction. Being *told* to push, even though they didn't have the urge. Shoulder dystocias as a result of the forced pushing, hemorrhages, a feeling of being raped. This is not untruth. This has been proven on video footage. You cannot call something an "untruth" if there are both first-hand witnesses, and the act was caught on tape and in testimonials (albeit positive - again, going back to not knowing any better) for Powerbirth.

You have said that you have never, nor have you advocated for a Midwife telling a mom when to push or manual dilation. However, you do this very thing on video. One of the moms actually turns to the camera and says how wonderful it is to have the Midwife open your cervix for her, so that she has less work.

On one testimonials page, pushing because a Midwife says so and manual dilation are spoken of repeatedly, as seen in these comments:

"...I decided to go ahead and do the "powerbirth" that I had done with my first child. This is where you push before you are fully dilated and your midwife helps to push your cervix aside until you are complete. This was "invented" by Lydi Owen, the midwife I had for my first birth and the midwife who trained K."

"What a surprise I was at 8 and with a light push opened to 10 instantly."

"She had me pushing with some of the contractions after I was out of the tub and that opened me right up. I remember going from a 7 to a 10 in almost no time at all. Then I remember K saying, "Your a 10, push that baby out!" So I did."

And some anonymous comments from women who have been traumatized or know women who have been:

"I happen to know of the creator of powerbirth (from the same city), and all the women who I knew who walked away from her powerbirthing were traumatized like you were."

"Oh wow. I had no idea there was a name for it, but this very thing happened to me in Las Vegas with a very experienced mw. I was in shock for weeks, unable to believe it had really happened. I believe, though cannot prove, that her interventions led directly to birth trauma that affected my baby for weeks after the birth and led to a serious disruption in our breastfeeding relationship. I guess she thought I was taking too long when she decided to dilate me from a 6 to a 10 all the while just telling me I had a "little lip." It wasn't until after the birth that she told me what she'd really done, complete with a giggle and a "aren't I cute?" look."

"When I was a student midwife, I attended a few births with one of Lydi's associates and one birth with Lydi. I had no clue what I was witnessing at the time. All I knew was that there was no way I'd ever have a baby with either of them. It did shape the way I practiced though - It strengthened my resolve to be hands off, to shut my mouth and to keep the power and choices firmly in the birthing mothers hands."

"This is like reading a page from my own life! I also had a meddlesome midwife who manually dilated me and broke my water with her fingernail during both of my births. I found my own peace by becoming a midwife who genuinely respects women and the beauty of their births."

"I didn't realize it until reading this but my experience with my first birth was the same! So, it just hit me, I too had a power birth that I was unaware of and totally against! I had a very hard time getting over it. I moved away from Southern Utah and had two other babies, natural, at home and they were both amazing experiences. I educated myself a lot but could never pin point what went wrong with that first birth, until now!!!"

"I am so sorry you had to go through this... but at the same time, I feel almost a relief that there is a name for this kind of abuse and it wasn't a figment of my imagination....What you wrote is almost exactly what I went through - the stretching of the cervix while being held down and yelled at to push, her hand up there with every push, lithotomy position, begging her to stop... I couldn't push like that! It's no wonder my baby never moved down. We eventually made our escape to the hospital and I'd never been so relieved to see an OB... until he tried to do a vaginal exam and I was already traumatized - yelling at him to stop and screaming. I still couldn't push my baby out and ended up with another c/s. But I was horrified with my experience and traumatized."

At first I thought maybe you actually believed what you wrote. That you believed none of the stories could possibly be true. That women haven't been harmed because of what you have taught. But then your story changed. Multiple times. Your website has been re-written numerous times and has gone from a staunch opposition to the idea that you have ever manually dilated a cervix or have advocated for it, to a near admission of guilt when you posted an article by Ina May Gaskin about using forceful cervical pressure in an emergency. Except none of the situations in where you are viewed on video, and in none of the births of the women who have come forward contained emergent situations that necessitated the immediate delivery of the baby.

Let me say that no Midwife is perfect. I am *far* from perfect. Every Midwife must continue to educate, research, learn, and most of all ... change the way she practices if she comes to an understanding that there may be harm in what she has done. I have changed the way that I am with laboring mothers since I began, and continually assess myself. Unfortunately, instead of seeing remorse from you or from the other Midwives who practice this technique, there has only been a continuation of lies and manipulation and slander. Slander their character, and in turn cry out that you have been slandered. With every beat of my heart I pray that you please just stop.

As I have watched the PowerBirth promotional video, and nearly cry for how the women and babies are treated ... I have also had the founder of ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association) view a clip of it. This was her response:

"I have questions as to why the midwife is internal, why the mother is on her back and I am most concerned about the apparent amount of force applied to the baby's delicate spine by the midwife during the actual delivery. This is far from the usual 'hands off' approach I am used to seeing with midwives and I cannot help but wonder about the negative effects of these interventions on both mother and baby."

You say on your website that a woman would be better off having a cesarean section than to be attended by a hands-off Midwife. I am distraught by this statement, because of what damage it may do. Do you assume or tell women that a hands-off Midwife would sit in the corner and do nothing if an emergency were to arise? That because we believe that a woman's body is designed to birth without intervention and does *best* hormonally when she does so (as seen by the works of Dr. Michel Odent, Dr. Sarah Buckley and many others), we would not jump into action if something went awry? I cannot speak for all hands-off Midwives, but all of the ones that I know personally are thoroughly trained in the event of any type of birth emergency. But we understand that from a hormonal and physiological standpoint that birth is safest when not interfered with.

I will reiterate that women have and are still coming forward who have been traumatized by Powerbirth and its practitioners, whether or not they (the practitioner) actually uses the term "Powerbirth". They are coming forward, no longer feeling alone. No longer allowing themselves to feel intimidated or manipulated.

So to you, Ms. Owen, I wish you a good day and a sincere thank you for directing people to my blog. My writings, and the writings of the brave women who have come forward already have been turned around for good. Victims of this no longer feel alone. That is a bittersweet victory in and of itself. As to the statement of what "me and my peers" have done over the past 2 years, I assure you that we are each working to expose this individually. I am not professionally associated with any of the other women who have spoken out about this. We are simply working to bring awareness to women that there is harm being done, and to allow space for the women who have been traumatized to come forward and not be alone.

To the women out there - if you have been negatively affected by this technique, even if unnamed by your care provider, please come forward. You are not alone. You can contact me, or any of the other women who have put their story out there, as seen in these blogs:


Complete Beginnings

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