For Some Reason, The Idea Of Orgasmic Birth Has Become Extremely Popular Lately. Everyone Is Seeking An Orgasmic Birth. Why? Okay, Maybe That’S A Dumb Question. Of Course The Idea Of Orgasmic Birth Is Appealing. If Given The Choice Between Birth Th

The idea of orgasmic birth has become extremely popular lately. Everyone is seeking an orgasmic birth. Why? Okay, maybe that’s a dumb question. Of course the idea of orgasmic birth is appealing. If given the choice between birth that sounds like a good romp in the sack vs. birth that requires drugs and a shot in your spine, many people would probably choose the former.
Naomi de la Torre

Pregnant belly

I had two C-sections and they were most certainly not orgasmic. Unless you consider the morphine haze which caused my eyes to roll around in my head and make me ask questions like, “Whose legs are those on my bed?”

Below are the stories of two women who recently gave birth. Both were aiming for orgasm. One believes she achieved it; the other did not.

Juliana's birth story
Juliana had previously experienced several extremely challenging births with babies that presented in the posterior position. DONA certified doula Rosemary Walker explains, “Posterior babies are difficult to deliver because the largest area of their head is pushing against the bony part of the mother’s pelvis. Not only does this cause intense back pain, but it makes the baby very difficult to push out. Some doctors use vacuum suction, forceps or even resort to C-sections for posterior babies that won’t emerge.”

To say that Juliana’s previous births were not orgasmic would be a vast understatement. One of Juliana’s births required her OB sticking her hand up inside the birth canal to get the baby to finally emerge. The other two ended in a broken tailbone, which is apparently common with posterior birth. Somehow though, despite her real concern over having another posterior baby, Juliana was devoted to achieving an orgasmic birth. She’d done the research, did yoga, meditated and concertedly visualized herself achieving such an experience.

When Juliana went into labor, her husband was finishing up running a marathon. Labor came on quickly and by the time they were in the car on the way to the hospital, she was on her knees in the back seat trying not to have a baby at 60 miles an hour. The birth itself was, according to her, “beautiful, powerful and enjoyable.” The baby was not posterior and labor truly was a pleasurable, amazing experience. Instead of having to work to push the baby out through extraordinary pain, she was able to relax and breathe the baby gently into this world. She enjoyed the experience so much that when it was over, she declared that she wished she could do it again.

Rosemary's birth story
Rosemary had the opposite experience. As a certified doula, she knew lots of techniques for making natural childbirth as comfortable as possible. She had previously given birth naturally two times with great success. Her greatest concern was that this third baby would come too quickly and that she might be forced to give birth on her living room floor while her older toddlers watched and tried to play tug of war with the umbilical cord.

When she went into labor over a month before her due date, Rosemary thought the contractions were probably just Braxton Hicks. But when they became regular, she knew that she needed to get to the hospital quickly. She was not going to have the birthing center experience she had intended because the baby had not reached 37 weeks gestational age.

Meanwhile, from the sensation of the contractions and the pressure against her colon, Rosemary knew that this baby was presenting differently than the others. Because of her training as a birth assistant, she was very aware of the different stages of labor and possible complications. Judging from her labor thus far, she was already convinced that the baby must be in posterior position. At the hospital, the labor moved quickly, but when it came time to push, the baby would not come. Rosemary did all kinds of gymnastic contortions to try and get her pelvic bone to move in a way that would let the baby through. But nothing seemed to be helping. After two hours of pushing and a broken tailbone, the baby did arrive. But it was definitely not orgasmic.

What is orgasmic birth?
The concept of orgasmic birth seems strange, provocative, and to some—flatly unreachable. But perhaps this is because we do not understand the concept fully. Debra Pascali-Bonaros, the director of the film and book, Orgasmic Birth, penned this new term in hopes that she would revolutionize the way people think about birth. Instead of succumbing to the ever-increasing medicalization and perception of birth as painful and traumatic, the concept of orgasmic birth invites women to view birth with the potential to be positive and satisfying, even ecstatic and blissful.

Orgasmic birth does not intend to set a standard for birth that is unreachable, but rather to open our minds to the idea that all birth is beautiful and transformative, and moreover that our births belong to us, no matter how we experience them.

Pascali-Bonaros says, “Our message is one of choice, of finding the path to a safe, satisfying birth. We respect and honor each woman's experience. Those who have long, hard, challenging and painful births as well as women who have difficult, rewarding and pleasurable births. This is not a competition. Why are we so comfortable with painful birth? I hope you can allow yourself to look beyond the typical box we have created for birth and open the discussion to ways we can help women to have easier, more pleasurable and transformative births.”

A different way of looking at childbirth
Pascali-Bonaros is right. No matter how we look at it, birth is transformative. Whether we prefer to experience birth as a medical procedure within the safety of a hospital setting or whether we view birth as a natural process to be experienced at home with the potential for pleasure amidst the hard work of labor, we must always remember that our births belong to us. Owning the experience of birth empowers women and reminds us that, while we may not have complete control over labor and birth, we do have the power to make choices that will influence the type of experience we have. And most of all, we have the power to trust instincts and surrender graciously to the birth experiences and the precious gifts we have been given—our children.

More on childbirth:

-- The pleasure principle: Sexual pleasure during birth

-- Sylvia's birth story: An orgasmic home birth

-- Am I in labor? 6 Signs labor is starting

-- More articles on labor and birth


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