Childbirth as a Sexual Experience
Jo Anne Lindberg, President & Founder, BirthLink
The number one book that I recommend, to new parents, is Ina Mays’ Guide to Childbirth. I have a a soft spot in my heart for Ina Mae, a non nurse midwife, who began her midwifery career in a school bus parked on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston IL. I wonder if they knew that they were participating in an auspicious event? She was “called” to assist at a birth while traveling around the country looking for truth in the late 60’s. Since then, she and her team of midwives have learned so much about birth that hospitals have asked her to do inservice training for their doctors They have kept wonderful statistics and have proven that birth is best left alone unless absolutely necessary. They have a 2% c-section rate in the 2000 births they attended at the Farm in Tennessee.
I read and reread my copy of Spiritual Midwifery when I was pregnant with my first child and planning a homebirth. It was my inspiration and guide. Ina May is still one of my heroes. When she wrote her second book I ran right to the bookstore and got it. Her book introduced me to the idea that birth is a sexual experience. I have seen a birth video that included a mother making sexual sounds during birth! The mother also looked like she was enjoying herself. I have to admit that this was a concept I had not considered. Then the author talked about orgasmic birth! Wow!
In birth, just as in sex, there is excited anticipation. There is a big build up before we can finally push the baby out. There is an amazing feeling in the vagina as the baby slides out. Then there is the big relief knowing that your baby has finally arrived. The hormones that got the baby in are the ones that get the baby out. When we have not had medications, which are believed to interrupt the natural hormonal process, we get the hormones that are responsible for bonding. Breastfeeding is also part of this process. That is how we fall so deeply in love with our baby. It can all feel very wonderful.
First, she came up with the idea that birth is spiritual and now she is suggesting that birth is sexual! Our perceptions create our reality! There is an entire chapter that addresses the pain vs pleasure issue. If we expect childbirth to be painful, and what we learn from the media is that it is unmanageable, then I imagine it will be. She goes on to talk about how some cultures do not expect to have pain or medications during birth and the vast majority do not have them. There is a time and a place for medical interventions and I assume there are some women who have such a low threshold for pain that they may benefit. One must experience their own labor pain before they will know. She also says the idea of pain begins in the mind. Having people around you that believe in and understand the birth process is key to having this kind of experience.
There are some wonderful pictures of a mother in rapture during labor and birth in her book. We live in a culture with a great deal of fear. I am also guessing that if we have positive associations with sex we will have positive associations with birth and breastfeeding. Far too many women do not have positive feelings about their bodies. This is something to explore while pregnant.
My own experiences were very positive. I believe that growing up on a farm and having ample opportunities to see animals giving birth was what gave me confidence. I had my children at home. I was able to go deep into myself and allow the process to unfold. I was surrounded by people who encouraged me and celebrated with me. I laugh to think about how my son was 9.5 pounds and took an hour to push him into the world. I loved the feeling of being able to finally push. That was my favorite part. The long climb up the mountain was finally over and I could do something really productive. I could feel their bodies sliding through me and I was bringing them into the world and I did it all myself.
The hormonal cocktail of love was surging in my blood stream. I fell in love, breastfed and felt even more in love. It was all very intense and beautiful. I love to think about my births as my greatest accomplishments in life. To be part of the web of life. To create another human being. I was inspired to share my story with other women. Many of whom wanted what I had experienced so I started BirthLink. Many of whom had never dreamed that childbirth could be a happy experience let alone orgasmic! I sometimes wonder if I could have had that orgasmic birth if I had known it was possible! Spread the word!