When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women 1st Edition
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About the Author
Phyllis H. Klaus, C.S.W., M.F.T., a psychotherapist, who specializes in women's reproductive issures. She is co-author of 4 books on childbirth and newborns.
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Survivors themselves might find the personal “stories” in When Survivors Give Birth. While they may be triggering to some survivors, their value is still immense, especially for providers who, again, may be unaware of how survivors might “look” or why they make the decisions they do. The stories provide a practical, real life view of what is being discussed in the chapter and how that impacts the pregnant woman.
As a childbirth educator, trauma birth counselor and educational trainer, there is much information for me to takeaway from the book. And that’s coming from someone who has worked with survivors of intimate partner violence for over ten years. Traditionally there hasn’t been much work done with pregnant survivors or new mom survivors of any kind of abuse. Chapters like “How survivors can reduce the risk of a traumatic birth” include useful advice like, “risks can be reduced if the abuse survivor can identify and express her needs or even resolve some troubling emotional issues before the birth,” (emphasis mine 63). This is so important to be aware of.
When Survivors Give Birth is a terrific reference for anyone who deals with pregnant women in any capacity: from birth doula to ob/gyn. My only complaint is that like _Survivor Moms_ the Simkin and Klaus don't spend as much time making the connection between childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. CSA doesn't happen in a vacuum and I wish that was more acknowledged in this book.
One of the strongest pieces in WSGB is the section that focuses on the postpartum period. That’s a time when traditionally, the woman gets little or no attention from providers (“come back and see me in 6 weeks,”) but which is a time of great vulnerability and change for even non-survivors. Simkin and Klaus meticulously explore the connection between postpartum mood disorders, for example, and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Postpartum mood disorder screening for even non-survivors of abysmal but my hope would be that if more providers were to read this book, they might recognize all the more the importance on appropriate screening AND follow-up.
WSGB, is the sort of book that one returns to again and again, both for basics like statistics, symptoms and practical tips on how to deal more sensitively to the needs of survivors of childhood sexual abuse but also for basics such as creative problem solving, better active listening and additional resources