There’s a movement you may or may not have heard of in the natural birth community. It is a movement to educate women about the possibility of having a pleasurable, even orgasmic, childbirth experience. Does that sound crazy to you? Or maybe just plain weird?
If you’re freaked out, don’t worry! I am not going to dive into the details of “orgasmic birth”, because there are plenty of resources out there if it’s a topic you really want to explore. But I do think it is important to make some connections and dispel some of the taboo surrounding the idea of sexuality in pregnancy and childbirth.
I think that sometimes in our culture, we want to totally separate sex and birth, because our birth culture is largely focused on the baby instead of the mother. So when we hear “orgasmic birth” we think, “Ah! Orgasms and babies? What’s wrong with you?”
Even pregnant women are rarely portrayed as sexual beings in popular media. The term “sexy” is reserved for the slim, the graceful, the fit. Sadly, pregnancy is often viewed more as a condition to be managed instead of the incredibly powerful, beautiful, and yes, sexual, state of being that it is. I mean, come on…how do you think pregnancy usually occurs?
Let’s just go back to the basics for a second. Cultural narrative and personal beliefs aside, the vagina is designed to become engorged and stretchy in two scenarios. Sex and birth. The same things that work to make that happen in one scenario will make it happen in the other.
What are those things? Privacy. Feeling safe. Feeling loved. Feeling supported. Dim lights, gentle touch, and kissing (if you feel safe with the person you are kissing). Pleasurable stimulation. Arousal.
If you were marched into a brightly lit room with strangers who were keeping one eye on you and the other eye on a clock, would you really feel like getting intimate with your partner? No? That’s because your vagina doesn’t respond to your brain, it responds to your hormones. Your emotions.
Many midwives know that sometimes, what a “stalled” labor needs is just a little privacy and sensual stimulation, whether by yourself or with a partner. We might sometimes hear (or say) something along the lines of, “I’m not in the mood, I’m just too much in my head right now” when it comes to intimacy. And the same holds true for birth. If we are in our heads, then we aren’t relaxing into the sensations of labor. We aren’t allowing ourselves to soften and open and stretch.
Do I think every woman can, or even should, have a truly orgasmic birth experience? Absolutely not. I don’t want pleasurable birth to become something that is held up as some kind of gold standard for birth experiences. Too often, women are told that if they just do things the “right way,” their birth will be painless, easy, or even orgasmic. That’s simply not the case. Bodies and births are too unique for a one-size-fits-all approach.
However, I do think we could all learn some tips to make a birth experience more loving, manageable, and respectful, by simply being open to the fact that birth is an experience that has many parallels to sex.
It’s the same body part, having to experience many of the same stimuli, and it’s deeply connected to our emotions and hormones. Whether or not you are comfortable with sexuality as a part of your labor and birth experience, we can all benefit from thinking about what sort of environment and support would be helpful for those biological changes to take place.
If you are at all interested in this topic, I encourage you to do some further research, or reach out to me! My desire is that no matter how you view birth, you are supported, loved, and informed as you enter into the experience.