Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Orgasmic Birth, Our Birthright

©2008 Jada Shapiro www.birthdaypresence.net
Who would think birth could be a sexual experience? The contractions, the hormones, the ecstatic orgasms. Yes, the fantastic, glorious orgasms that women, if relaxed enough, experience during birth.

Like almost every other human being, I never thought birth could be pleasurable, until I experienced a spontaneous orgasm while giving birth to my son three years ago. Little did I know at the time, that orgasm was 22 times more relaxing than the tranquillizer I was asking for earlier during labor. But it was a confusing and embarrassing experience, so I never mentioned it to a soul. About 2 years later I stumbled upon the phrase 'orgasmic birth' in an online discussion. Naturally I wanted to investigate it, and when I did it made a lot more sense. Here's what's interesting:

Women's sexuality involves making love, giving birth and nursing. In each case, nipples become sensitive, blood flow increases, vaginal lubrication increases, and production of the hormone Oxytocin soars. Also like sex, childbirth is horrendously painful and traumatic if it occurs forcibly or under conditions that undermine a woman's sense of dignity.

The key player in sexual pleasure – whether it be sex, birth or breastfeeding – is the hormone oxytocin. It diminishes pain, triggers ecstatic sensations and increases feelings of empathy. As the level of pain increases during these sexual activities, as does oxytocin, allowing the body to experience both intense pain and intense pleasure at the same time. However, oxytocin is only released when a woman feels relaxed and safe. It is secreted in spurts and not continuously, and levels decrease over time unless you retrigger its release with stimulation. Anything that causes tenseness, anxiety, stress or fear can easily inhibit its release – turning a potentially ecstatic experience, into a horrifically painful one.

This explains why currently it's estimated only 30% of women experience orgasmic birth, these are often women who birth unmedicated at home where surroundings are conducive to relaxation and sexual activity. A dimly lit room, dotted with candles, sensual music, luxurious fabrics, and a warm bath are a wonderful starting point for orgasmic birth.

I can tell you that when I did orgasm during birth, I felt like a goddess. I was so in control, powerful, relaxed, and focused with every cell in my body. I could feel everyone in the room stand back and look on me with awe. I am surprised my body managed such a feat despite birthing in a fluorescent lit, clinical hospital room. Powerful is how every woman should be given the chance to feel during birth. But most women don't feel that way during birth, they feel weak and vulnerable.

The concept of a sexual, pleasurable birth is new to most women. So why is orgasming during birth not widely known? Many women struggle through excruciating childbirth unaware that orgasmic birth is possible. The sexual element is all but removed from childbirth and viewed as taboo. Most women enter their births with the expectation of experiencing the worst pain known to human civilization. They fight with every muscle in their bodies against each contraction, oblivious to the fact that fighting the contractions is exacerbating the pain. Is it possible that if women were able to relax they may just experience earth shattering orgasms instead?

It seems the majority of women in our society have been given a false or incomplete concept of birth. By perpetuating the myth birth can only be painful, and by enforcing every conceivable medical intervention during birth, we are hindering the possibility of a natural, relaxed, pleasurable birth, possibly making women suffer unnecessarily through horrific childbirth pain. The way modern obstetrics has inhibited pleasurable birth almost feels misogynistic and oppressive.

Tinamarie Bernard, from her article 'Orgasmic Birth' describes a very different vision of the future of childbirth….
"Consider this legacy for the next generation of birthing mothers: Quiet room, dim lights, husband kissing his wife, massaging her perineum, whispering loving words to her, all while she's in a state of ecstasy. As the baby is crowning, she is given clitoral stimulation to bring much needed blood and reparative nutrients to the genital region, so that instead of tearing, her perineum is flushed with blood, preventing damage to her sensitive, sensual tissues."

And I'll leave you with a description of what an orgasmic birth feels like….
"All my erogenous zones were stimulated. I was making sounds very similar to a sexual climax. And it was a very definite climax. I was doing the most feminine thing a woman can do and it felt fantastic."
- Katrina Caslake, Midwife and mother of two


Sources:
Orgasmic Birth: Discovering Sexuality in Childbirth
By birthamiracle
Sensual and Orgasmic Childbirth
By Juniper Russo
Orgasmic Birth, the Eco-Sexy Way to Deliver?
By Tinamarie Bernard
How to have a sensual, drug-free birth
By Anastasia Stephens
Oxytocin Hormone and Birth Less-Painful, More Pleasurable Delivery
By Laura Shanley

4 comments :

  1. Very interesting, Cherie! Not something I think would be well received in our culture at this point, but definitely makes biological SENSE. I'm going to have to do some more research on this - as soon as I found out we were pregnant with this baby (almost 5 months along now!) I KNEW I wanted to have a natural (dare I say it?)- PLEASURABLE labor and birth experience. I think what you said about the idea that birth is "dangerous" and that's why it takes place in a hospital is right on. It's this kind of thinking that LEADS to all the unnecessary interventions that cause harm to baby and mom (that make birth seem "dangerous" in the first place!)

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  2. I hope you have a pleasurable birth! And I understand how people could feel a little embarrassed about the whole concept. An orgasmic birth forces us to face our own sexuality, and I have no doubt we all have some degree of sexual repression. We have to ditch the whole 'sex is dirty' attitude - sex is biological, it's how reproduce for god's sake!

    I've heard women often find their sexuality through giving birth - such an empowering experience! I'm so excited for you! The makers of the movie "Orgasmic Birth" have also written a book of the same name, check it out here.

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  4. Awe, how awesome! Thanks for sharing part of my article with your readership - I see you quoted me at the bottom, but the info about oxytocin is also from that orgasmic birth article, nu? The book Orgasmic Birth would be a great resource for those who are interested....

    Much appreciation, Tinamarie Bernard
    www.tinamariebernard.com

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