Ever since I watched the Powerbirth promotional video, in 2009, I have watched as women came out of the woodwork to talk about their traumatic experience with the technique - only, most didn't know that it was a "technique" or had a name at all. They only know what was done to them by a person they had trusted.
Recently I attended a birth in which a family member asked about my training, and once she learned that I was not trained here in Southern Utah (To my knowledge, I am the only midwife in the area who was not trained here), she began to tell me her story. As I cleaned up the birthing tub that had just been used, she explained how a friend had passed on information from my blog about Powerbirth, and her friend had asked her if that's what had happened to her. She said that she hadn't known anything about "Powerbirth", so she didn't think it had anything to do with her. And then she began reading the explanation of what midwives have done to women - forced pushing with their knees hiked up, and the midwife manually dilating the cervix.
This woman recounted how she was checked to be 2cm dilated, and the midwife (I won't name names) asked her if she wanted to have labor go quickly or slowly. She said that as a first time mom, of course she wanted to have the baby soon, so she told her that she wanted to go quickly. She said the midwife instructed her to pull her knees back as far as she could, and to push as hard as she could, while the midwife stretched her cervix. She said, "It was horrible." And even more sadly, it was discovered during her next labor that she had scarring on her cervix from what was done to her by her first midwife.
Yet, the midwives who have, and still do practice this method/technique, deny that this is what is done. The Powerbirth founder cries out for people to read the Powerbirth manual, in which there is no mention of forced pushing or manual cervical dilation. And one midwife has publicly denied these practices, saying that women have lied.
Each time I think that these stories won't affect me nearly as much, I have yet another woman tell me her story of trauma, deception, and outright manipulation. It makes me angry, as midwives have no business calling themselves such as they so egregiously violate women and put babies at such risk of harm ... and it breaks my heart as that is the experience that some women walk away from, thinking these things are simply normal for home birth.
To any woman who has read any of this and questioned your birth experiences ... you're not alone. Even if you don't ever decide to speak out, you are not alone. And this violation is not what home birth and midwifery is about.