When Anna told her doctor about her history, the doctor responded in a compassionate way and suggested a support group. Anna was too embarrassed to attend, "but it was reassuring to know I was not the only person who would not be able to breastfeed," she says.
Nothing can erase sexual abuse, but Simkin advises taking steps to protect yourself from reliving abuse-related feelings during pregnancy:
• Discuss your abuse history with your caregiver if you feel comfortable doing so.
• If you would rather not go into detail, try to communicate your needs without revealing what is behind them. For example, if vaginal exams are stressful, ask that your doctor or midwife perform as few as possible and as gently as possible. "A sensitive caregiver can respond to a woman's needs without needing an explanation," Simkin says.
• Consider choosing an empathetic doula or midwife, who can offer compassionate support.