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Sexual Wellness

What is Orgasmic Birth?

| 09/20/2021

Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

Childbirth is often associated with excruciating pain, endless labor and fleshy gore. But what if it could be pleasurable, euphoric, or even…orgasmic? It’s possible, and actually more common than you think.

Orgasmic birth is a pleasurable, intimate, and rewarding birth experience that sometimes results in an orgasm. During natural childbirth, the baby makes contact with the g-spot and the vaginal canal, which can cause pleasurable sensations. Some birth-givers have even reported that masturbating can “take the edge off” of labor pains instead of turning to drugs.

Orgasmic birth is also caused by a massive wave of the hormone oxytocin, which  is naturally released during both childbirth and sex. Oxytocin has also been shown to significantly increase pain tolerance. In theory, a birth-giver can ride the natural wave of oxytocin relief for a more pleasurable birth experience. When a doctor induces labor, they use the drug pitocin, a synthetic version of oxytocin that helps your body produce contractions.

Overall, orgasmic birth is less about achieving sexual pleasure during labor and more about reframing the experience of childbirth as an erotic, pleasurable, intimate, and powerful experience. 

To be clear, not everyone will be able to achieve orgasmic birth. Some birth stories may even be traumatic for some people. Being unable to achieve an orgasmic birth doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong — you just had a different and totally valid experience than someone else’s.

There are many ways to experience orgasmic birth

In the documentary Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret, 11 mothers shared their intimate birth stories to show the world that orgasmic birth is definitely possible. One couple is shown kissing and caressing each other through each contraction. One woman in the documentary reported having long-lasting rolling orgasms while giving birth to her son in a birthing pool. 

Kissing, cuddling, or clitoral stimulation can provide great distractions during contractions.

All of the 11 couples shown in the documentary use the birth experience to deepen intimacy within their relationship. Additionally, one woman, a sexual assault and incest survivor, shared that experiencing orgasmic birth helped her heal from sexual trauma. She and her husband prepared extensively for potentially triggering sensations, and in the end, they were both relieved that their natural home birth experience was intimate and pleasurable.

Additionally, a 2016 survey by Channel Mum and The Positive Birth Movement showed that 6% of women have experienced orgasmic birth before, though statistics don’t necessarily cover the rates of orgasmic birth among gender-diverse people. Orgasmic birth usually requires preparation, but some people report that orgasms during birth take them by surprise.

How do you have an orgasmic birth?

The Orgasmic Birth Movement, spearheaded by doula trainer Debra Pascali-Bonaro, often criticizes modern hospital birth practices. “Sadly, our current model of care sterilizes birth and strips away the ability for many people to experience pleasure,” Pascali-Bonaro told Dame. According to the panel of experts, doctors and midwives who appeared in the Orgasmic Birth documentary, practices like labor induction with pitocin, emergency c-sections and epidural injections can lead to unnecessary traumatic experiences for birth-givers.

The ability to have an orgasmic birth also depends on environmental factors. Pascali-Bonaro poses the question: “Would you feel comfortable having sex in a hospital?” We need to normalize being in the right mood to give birth, just as we need to set the mood in order to have great sex.

Walking around during labor or switching positions can also shorten labor time and decrease labor pain. Some people prefer home births for one simple reason: You can walk around, switch positions, get buck-naked, scream as loud as you want — all in the privacy of your own home. Some doulas also claim that giving birth in warm water reduces labor pains significantly. Some people don’t have the luxury of having a home or water birth, or their pregnancy is too high-risk, but small adjustments, like dimming the lights,  can make a huge difference in a hospital setting.

Preparation is another key part of having an orgasmic birth. If you have a partner to support you during birth, attending classes can help you prepare for sensations at every stage. Kissing, cuddling, or clitoral stimulation can provide great distractions during contractions. Erotic stimulation can even help your brain process these sensations as pleasure instead of pain.

If you’re leaning on friends and family for support during your birth, spend time practicing intimate touch with them during your pregnancy. This can include hand-holding, rubbing your thighs, or massaging your lower back. Getting used to your support system’s physical touch makes a world of a difference when you’re in a position as powerful and vulnerable as childbirth.

Can you have an orgasmic birth at the hospital?

Thankfully, it’s possible to have an orgasmic birth anywhere. “When preparing for an orgasmic birth in a hospital, there is a bit more work to do to create the ambiance that provides privacy and safety,” says Pascali-Bonaro. This intimate ambiance is crucial for oxytocin flow, and your birth support team should be aware of what your needs are before getting to the hospital.

Again, the ability to walk around, switch positions, and release orgasmic noises is absolutely crucial to having an orgasmic birth. For example, during crowning — the stage in childbirth where the baby’s head starts to peek through the vaginal opening — some birth-givers choose to stand up and let gravity help them pull the baby out completely.

When preparing for a hospital birth, make your comfort a top priority. Let your medical team know that you and your partner have plans to kiss, massage each other, and perform clitoral stimulation to reduce the awkwardness. Come up with a safeword that your partner can use to signal that you need extra privacy. 

A new way to think about birth

Regardless of whether or not you achieve a full O, orgasmic birth gives us a new way to reframe an experience of birth. “Orgasmic birth provides a feeling of accomplishment, expansion and power that those who experience it bring into all aspects of parenting, relationships and life,” says Pascali-Bonaro. You are entitled to pleasure, intimacy and agency throughout every part of the childbirth process.

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