Presentation Information

Molly Dutton-Kenny

Respectful Pelvic Exams From a Trauma-Informed Lens

Abstract:

Pelvic Exams are so commonplace in midwifery practice that we often fail to appreciate their significance in our client’s lives. Pelvic exams have the potential for both trauma and trust-building in the midwife-client relationship.

Trauma manifests in our clients lives and bodies in a myriad of ways. Statistically, a majority of our clients have experienced various direct traumas in their lives, with a significant portion focused on pelvic trauma & assault. Additionally, clients hold the epigenetic trauma from historical wrongs in gynecology and treatment of bodies in various lineages as a result of white supremacy and toxic patriarchy.

All bodies deserve respectful care. When done carefully, pelvic exams have the potential to be safe, trust-building experiences with the benefit of seeking key medical information. Together, we will interrogate the common pelvic exam from a trauma-informed lens and consider our practices carefully. We will build strategies for respectful pelvic exams, including managing pain & anxiety in clients, what to do when clients do (and don’t!) disclose past trauma, avoiding triggers, and consider modifications to our own practices.