Survivor Moms - Healing after Sexual Abuse

Midwives are called upon to help each of their clients have the best birth possible. As many as one in three or four women have suffered sexual abuse or rape. The effects of such abuse often play out in the childbearing year, as well as in other aspects of a person’s life. In that the experience of giving birth has such great potential either to heal or to hurt, it is important that we, as midwives, know as much as possible about how to work with these women. We can definitely be a part of the healing process, but it is a double edged sword. We can also re-traumatize these moms.

Motherbaby Press, a subsidiary of Midwifery Today, has published a book that can help you gain the knowledge you need in this area. When I practiced midwifery in the 1970s through the 1990s, this was not even on our radar as an issue. It is now very well known and documented. I continue to be amazed by the awesome power placed in our hands as midwives. We have the power to affect human lives in many life-changing ways. The reverse side is that we have the power to hurt if we are not at our educated and sensitive best. For most of us, our training does not touch on the delicate subject of sexual abuse or rape, even though we may study psychological issues.

The midwifery calling brings with it so much responsibility. I hope that, moving forward, all midwifery education will train midwives in how to best serve these mothers. I hope all midwives will educate themselves about these issues in order to help more mothers and, in the long run, improve outcomes not only for the birth, but for life.

The Motherbaby Press book, Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse by Mickey Sperlich, CPM, and Julia Seng, CNM, and When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women by Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus, are musts for both your personal library and your client library.

You can also learn about this issue at many Midwifery Today conferences, and by listening to conference tapes. This is an important part of your education because, to repeat, one out of every three to four of the women you serve will have experienced—and may still be suffering from—this travesty.


Jan Tritten, Midwifery Today




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