Labor Orgasms Called 'Best-Kept Secret'

Joining in this message are women like Karen Brody, a playwright who wants women to make empowered choices about their birth experiences.

As part of her organization Birth on Labor Day, or BOLD, she developed a play called "Birth," performed in communities to spread the message about new options in childbirth.

Kimberly Baker, a mother from Memphis, Tenn., directed and acted in one of the "Birth" productions, portraying a woman who ultimately experienced an orgasmic birth.

"Unless you've met somebody who's had a positive, natural birth experience, and you've heard them tell the truth about their experience, then all you have is the unknown," she said.

To actually experience an orgasmic, or pleasurable birth, Northrup says it's important for women to lose their fear and their inhibitions. One method is to practice relaxation techniques. For Hartnell, chanting and doing yoga helped transform the pain into what she calls simply "sensations."

Use Drugs or Go Natural?

Another key element is not to block those sensations with anesthesia -- a prospect that is not pleasing to the many women who rely on modern medicine to avoid intense suffering during childbirth.

"The process of labor is there for a reason," Northrup said. "It is part of the human experience to experience pain, the other side of which is this incredible ecstasy."

Claudia Montes, a New Jersey mother of three, was determined to experience that ecstasy.

After giving birth to her first two children with an epidural, she wanted to have what she calls a "pleasurable birth" at the hospital, without pain medication. But her toughest obstacle turned out to be her husband.

"I don't understand choosing pain over, you know, modern medicine where you could be blissed out artificially," said her husband, Jay Edlin.

Montes disagreed, saying, "The whole thing is he didn't want me to suffer. And my whole thing is, you know, suffering is perceived."

Montes hired a midwife instead of a doctor and practiced hypnosis for months in order to relax for labor. Her hard work paid off.

"I didn't feel pain," she said. "I was in bliss, because I felt safe, because I felt empowered."

Even her husband agreed she chose the right path.

"She ultimately was right and I was wrong. I never envisioned that, you know, it would have such a happy ending," he said.

For women who hope to create a similarly happy ending for their labor, Pascali-Bonaro hopes they realize that it's possible, but the goal is not necessarily an actual orgasm.

"I hope women watching and men watching don't feel that what we're saying is, every woman should have an orgasmic birth," she said. "Our message is that women can journey through labor and birth in all different ways. And there are a lot more options out there, to make this a positive and pleasurable experience."

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