Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret

"The best-kept secret... about childbearing... is that it IS a sexual experience."

- Elizabeth Davis, CPM
Co-Director, National Midwifery Institute, Inc.

"Having a baby has a lot in common with making a baby." 

- Sarah Buckley, MD

Something very interesting and surprising happened to me during my pushing stage with Kimberly, and that was the fact that pushing started to feel really good. When I say really good, I mean in THAT way. You know the way I mean. Yes, that way. I know. Crazy, right?

Ina May Gaskin, world renowned midwife, has said, "If you listen to a woman in labor who is being cared for properly and who has been well-prepared for birth, she sounds like she's having great sex." I was aware that I was vocalizing because I was doing it on purpose, but I wasn't aware of exactly how I sounded. In my mind, I figured my neighbors were probably getting ready to call an ambulance because I probably sounded like I was dying. I really didn't care. A few weeks later at my postpartum visit, my doula told me, though, after I told her about my pleasurable birth feelings, that she had planned to tease me because apparently I sounded like I was in a porno. Oh. Ha ha! I can live with that. I suppose instead of calling 911, they probably started to think my husband was the ultimate stud. I can get on board with that. I'm sure he can too. 

Because I was curious about what I had recently experienced and hoping to learn more, and also because it is "required reading" for Birth Boot Camp certification, I decided to finally watch my Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret DVD that was still wrapped in the cellophane that had been just sitting in my library for months. It is, "a documentary that examines the intimate nature of birth and the powerful role it plays in women's lives when they are permitted to experience it fully." In this DVD, "11 couples share their intimate personal journeys, facing their fears and moving through pain into the ecstasy of birth." (Quoted from DVD jacket)

When I first started to watch this documentary, I had the windows in my living room open to let in the sunshine and cool breeze. Once the DVD started, I had to close my windows for fear that people would think I was watching something naughty. It DOES sound like women are enjoying themselves sometimes when they are giving birth, but I never really noticed it before. Usually when I hear a woman vocalizing during birth I notice her strength, and I recall what it feels like when someone is making those sounds. My heart goes out to her, but I know that she is perfectly capable of doing the work of labor. I feel like if I, little ole me, could bring forth life into this world, anyone can. I feel so much compassion for laboring women because I have been there twice so far. As the great Ina May has said regarding midwifery, birth just doesn't happen the same way around surgeons and medically trained doctors as it does around sympathetic women. I am not a midwife, but I am definitely a sympathetic woman. 

Having an orgasmic or ecstatic birth sounds a little "out there," doesn't it? It sounds like only something those crazy birth junkies can experience. It sounds like more like a stroke of good luck if a woman experiences any part of birth that actually feels pleasurable. Maybe it is just the luck of the draw,  but there is something that you CAN expect and remember, and that you and your body are AMAZING. "To be realistic is to expect your body to be wonderful." -Naoli Vinaver, CPM

Well, Kristi, having an orgasmic birth sounds great and all, but really? How can I have one? 

1. For starters, watch the DVD and consider some of these words from the it.

2. Choose a care provider and birthing location that is supportive of undisturbed birth.

This is not a plug for home birth, though I believe that a woman is more likely to be left alone to labor how she wants if she births at home. For some people this may not be possible to birth at home. It IS possible to have a mostly undisturbed birth in a hospital as well. I have had one. I have witnessed them with supportive care providers. A woman needs to feel safe and cared for to birth well, so wherever and with whomever that happens is the best place for her to give birth and the place where a highly pleasurable birth is most likely to happen.

 "If a woman wants to live through an experience that is ecstatic for birth, she will have to be conscious about choosing where she wants to give birth, with whom." 

- Naoli Vinaver, CPM

3. Set the mood. "Our sphincters are shy." -Ina May Gaskin 

What? Sphincters!?! (Google Sphincter Law for some fun reading material) Women in labor need privacy, a darkened room and a minimum of observation, much like during sex. Well, maybe not the darkened room is not necessary during sex, but I assume most women probably prefer to have sex in a private place with a minimum of observation most of the time. 

4. Understand that "birth is a part of a woman's sexual life." - Billie Wolff, RN and Lamaze Instructor

As a doula who talks with other doulas,  I hear a lot of "the same moves that got the baby in, get the baby out." We encourage mothers to move during pregnancy and birth and a lot of the movements look very sensual. And who hasn't heard that sex is supposed to help bring on labor? And nipple stimulation, kissing, touching and hugging helps to bring on contractions and also helps them to become stronger and more productive during labor. After all, the same hormones present during the big O are also present in higher amounts during birth. According to experts in this DVD, oxytocin, the wonderful ooey-gooey bonding and love hormone present during loving experiences in our life, will never be higher than those moments right after birth when a woman first meets her baby. How fantastically yummy! 

In summary, how can you have an orgasmic birth? When you are "safe and secure and uninterrupted and that is how you will have an orgasmic birth." -Mardsen Wagner

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