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  • Writer's pictureAnn Tropea

Let's Talk Consent

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Consent means asking first, and then waiting for a "yes"

I am a birth doula. My job, my calling, is to support women during labor, birth, and immediately postpartum. These hours/moments are some of the most vulnerable and intimate imaginable. My responsibility is to be there in that space, and to make sure my client understands and agrees to everything that is being done in connection with her labor and birth. I take this responsibility very seriously.

My duty is to my clients, always. The responsibility to help women choose their birth and be empowered in their choices is sacred.

A new World Health Organization-led study, conducted in 4 lower-income countries, shows a high rate of physical and verbal abuse during labor - including performing medical procedures (such as vaginal exams and episiotomies) without consent.

A Global Problem

It could be easy to discount this as a "developing country problem." Sadly, it is not. I have supported births in three different countries, including the United States, and I cannot count the number of times I have seen procedures performed on patients (my clients) without gaining prior consent.

A very common example: "Hi [patient], I'm going to check your cervix now and see how you're progressing." Do you see a question in there? I sure don't. How about this one: "Hi [patient] your labor isn't progressing as quickly as I would like. I'm going to go ahead and break your water now to see if we can get things to pick up." Again, no question, no options, no opportunity to say yes, no, or wait, what?

Things need to change, now. #askdonttell

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Ann Fenton
Ann Fenton
Nov 21, 2019

Hi Jessica, thanks so much for your comment. I'm sorry to hear this post brought up some painful memories for you, but please know that whatever happened was in no way your fault. I'm sure you made the choices that were right for you at the time. I am in Saigon for a few more weeks, and after that I am always available remotely - feel free to reach out any time.



Jessica Tefenkgi Ruelle
Jessica Tefenkgi Ruelle
Nov 21, 2019

Thank you for writing about this, I suddenly have memories from by daughter's birth 7 y.o. and I wish I had chosen to have a doula then. Glad to come across you and your work. Are you still in Saigon? All the best.

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