Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Sensations other than PAIN women can experience during childbirth

When asking a woman what her biggest fear is about giving birth, she'll probably respond with, "Pain! I'm scared of the pain!" Most people describe giving birth as, "The worst pain imaginable," or "The worst pain you will ever experience." In other words, if you enter a conversation about birth, you will probably hear the word "pain" mentioned at least once.

Image created using Canva
Recently, I attended a class given by a local midwife, Anna Caffrey (who has since moved to England), about Pleasurable Birth. Wait. What? Can birth be pleasurable? Can women even experience...wait for it...orgasms during birth? I'm here to tell you, yes! Yes they can. I did. Well, at least, I almost experienced an orgasm during the birth of my second child.

Read: Experiences of Pleasurable Childbirth: Uncovering a Blind Spot in Anthropology by Anna Caffrey

After attending the class, I was inspired to ask a few fellow Birth Boot Camp Instructors if they have experienced any sensations other than pain during their births. They had, and they were happy to share!

1. Powerful

Lauren McClain, a breech baby extraordinaire and  Birth Boot Camp Instructor in Maryland, shared, "Part of me approached birth as a scientist. What will this be like? What will I feel? How will I react? How will the feelings change if I do XYZ? The most apt term I can use to describe what I felt for all of my birth experiences is powerful. Where the power was or how the power felt depended on the individual experience."

Janine Heincker, a Birth Boot Camp Instructor in Topeka, KS, also describes her births as powerful. "Overwhelming power is how I describe my intense births. I've learned to love it!"

2. Intense

Vanessa Stepan, a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and birth doula in Bossier City, LA, said about her birth, "Birth for me was intense but I would not consider it painful in the traditional sense. Being so mentally prepared and aware of the amazing journey my body was taking me on to meet my baby was so powerful. I was able to stay calm and just trust that my body and baby knew what to do."

3. Aware

Melissa Meyer, a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and yoga instructor in Corvallis and Albany, OR, felt incredibly aware of her babies' movements during birth. She said, "I wanted so much to have an "orgasmic" birth! I told my husband he needed to kiss me through the whole thing. wink emoticonIt ended up being so fast there wasn't much time for any of that. I do love the pushing phase and I have such awareness of my body that I can feel the baby moving out of me. My second baby I felt her face as her head crowned. My third baby I felt her turn like a corkscrew right before I started to push. It's such an awesome feeling to feel your baby inside of you trying to get out."

4. Connected

Erin Marney, a Birth Boot Camp Instructor in Teller County, CO, felt connected with her body during birth. "I felt very connected with my body in a way I had never experienced before. Because I understood what was happening, I could feel and then visualize what was happening internally and with the baby. It was so intense, but knowing things were unfolding as they should was a comfort."

5. Orgasms

And finally, the one you have been waiting for. Some women can even describe their birth experiences as "orgasmic." One Birth Boot Camp Instructor described her births as orgasmic. "I experienced two, for lack of a better understanding of the sensation, orgasms. They were nothing like in Orgasmic Birth, but they were definitely real. The most intense sensation came as I was transitioning from labor to pushing (I had no control over the pushing, my body just did it). I could feel my son's head engaging with my cervix to help get me to complete dilation (which sounds weird, but I could FEEL it happening) and I just got this strange and pleasurable sensation. It was like this internal surprise to remind me that what was happening was super awesome even though it wasn't exactly fun. If I hadn't been so aware and focused on what my body was doing, it might have been lost in the other sensations of pain. But it was this secret and special thing happening. I don't share that with many people because it was so special to me, but birth can be enjoyable if you let go of what you expect and know of pain and pleasure." (emphasis mine)

Learn more: Visit the Orgasmic Birth website to learn more about the book, documentary, and childbirth classes. 

Watch: This video perfectly captures why we need to make our birthing environment more like we are preparing for a date night.

I love that women can have experiences other than pain during birth. Anna gave several suggestions on how to facilitate a more pleasurable birth experience during her talk. I am excited to share my knew knowledge with my clients! In short, make your birthing environment very similar to how you would for a date night. Pack certain unmentionables in your birth bag, and prepare your mind for a great birth!

I'd love to hear from you! Did you experience other sensations besides pain during your birth(s)? Please share your experiences.