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Orgasmic birth: the unicorn of childbirth?

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Once upon a time, I wrote about orgasmic birth on my personal blog. At the time, I was only slightly pregnant and figured it was just something that would make for humorous content. But since then, I’ve been thinking about the topic more and more. Orgasmic birth: the unicorn of childbirth?

I wanted to start my investigation by asking someone who has personally witnessed and attended several thousand live births: my mid-wife. The group I go to are an especially open and friendly bunch, so I knew that when I posed my question about orgasmic birth, they would be the least likely to laugh. I was right about their reaction.

According to the midwife that I spoke to, she has never seen anything she could describe as an orgasmic birth. She also brought up the point that she thinks that orgasm is not the right word to be using. By taking a word that describes sexual feeling and placing it a non-sexual context, you’re misrepresenting what an orgasm, and what birth labor, are all about. While both activities have to do with intense experiences involving the vagina, they really have nothing to do with one another.

In addition, I wanted to get a feeling for what my mom friends had to say about the subject. A close friend in Texas said she had never heard of an orgasmic birth. She also suggested that any woman who described her labor and delivery in such a way had probably never had a real orgasm. (This is the same woman who didn’t want me to mention her name in this post for fear of showing up in Google results being associated with the topic.) A second friend brought up the point that if you did actually have an orgasmic birth with one of your children and not the other, it would be pretty easy to tell which child was your favorite from there forward.

Another friend that I approached the subject with mentioned that she really enjoyed giving birth…but not because it was orgasmic. She admitted that there were sensual feelings involved with the births of all of her children, but that it went much deeper than anything she had ever felt with an orgasm. Shortly following her remark, she also wondered aloud if Michelle Duggar, who has given birth to 19 children, might be a better person to ask about the possibility of orgasmic birth. What other possible explanation for that much labor and delivery?

There is a documentary out that details many women who have had orgasmic births and after watching the trailer, I’m definitely open to the possibility. But I think that what I really desire is the use of a better adjective to describe birth. Many women go into the whole ordeal thinking labor and delivery will be a scary or painful process, mainly because that’s all they’ve seen in movies or heard from others. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take fear out of the equation and instead, let women be excited about the process of childbirth? Perhaps the word “orgasmic” is not the right one to be using, but if we can change the perceptions of pregnant women about the very natural process they will be undergoing, wouldn’t that be orgasmic in and of itself?

Tara Anderson is a recovering stand-up comic She can be found making jokes on Twitter. *Republished from the archives.*

 

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 1, 2010

    Only you, Tara, could approach this subject with such humor and candor.
    Love, love, love this friend’s observation:

    “A second friend brought up the point that if you did actually have an orgasmic birth with one of your children and not the other, it would be pretty easy to tell which child was your favorite from there forward.”

    After being induced with the horrors (and pain) of pitocin with both of my children, you’d better believe I believe in miracles. Or at least unicorns. 🙂

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  • comment avatar Erin December 1, 2010

    If we’re talking figuratively and not literally, I can see the connection. A building anticipation coming to fruition in a combination of joy, release and relief. In that sense, both of my births were indeed orgasmic. 😉

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz December 1, 2010

    I love what the midwife said: “orgasm is not the right word to be using. By taking a word that describes sexual feeling and placing it a non-sexual context, you’re misrepresenting what an orgasm, and what birth labor, are all about. While both activities have to do with intense experiences involving the vagina, they really have nothing to do with one another.”

    Good luck with all that’s going on for you, Tara! I hope you get to write about the unicorn in the first person in a few months.

  • comment avatar Gretchen White December 1, 2010

    I think birth is more origamic than orgasmic.

    The pretzel like positions they’ll fold you in to get that baby out? I looked like a frog during my first birth. Knees up by my ears, feet flexed back, eyes bulging.

    I wonder why orgasmic birthing is such hot news these days? I think people will say almost anything to assuage the fear of pain and the unknown.

    Also, I think there is a tendency for women to compare births and label certain methods superior/inferior. If a woman claims to have an orgasmic birth, who can top that?

    I know! A woman who has an orgasmic birth WHILE being in the audience on Oprah’s Favorite Things day.

  • comment avatar JoAnn December 1, 2010

    I think they use the word “orgasmic” to describe some of their experiences, because there really isn’t another word that can describe that mind-blowing feeling in your head that happens to correspond with things happening in your nether-regions.

    That feeling when the air is sucked out of your lungs, and your head explodes, but in a good way? The tingly feeling all over your entire body, and the colors that flash behind your eyes? (Not to mention the involuntary urge to moan loudly or yell. Wait. Have I said too much?) 😉

    Yes, I felt all of those things the moment my daughter was born. I didn’t even consider it to be “orgasmic” at the time, because it wasn’t in that context at all. It’s like finding romance in a cooking book. When pressed to find sensual things in a recipe, I’m sure you could creatively do that, but it’s not something you think of when you’re looking for a recipe.

    Those feelings I felt when she was born were the climax (ha!) of so much more than just a sexual experience. The hopes and dreams I had of that moment became reality. Knowing that I was right about how the pain would try but wouldn’t actually kill me was monumental. Everything up to that point exploded, but in a good way.

    For me, it was more than orgasmic.

  • comment avatar JoAnn December 1, 2010

    …but, I have to add: When women say they forget the pain of labor, I’m wondering when that happens. It’s been 5 years (and one day, technically), and I’m still waiting. 😉

  • comment avatar Heidi Ahrens December 1, 2010

    Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed both of my births but also found it to be incredibly painful, but something happened to me that was so deep and magical I would want to experience it again if the pain part was not involved. That is not how I would describe an orgasm.

    so great to see a discussion like this.

    Enjoy your birth, breath through it and welcome all of its parts since is is a true gift to be able to experience it. It won’t happen again.

  • comment avatar Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey December 1, 2010

    I love you girl.

  • comment avatar Holly December 3, 2010

    I peed the bed, pooped the bed, cursed at everyone in the room, bit my husband and demanded for sandwiches during my last birth. If that is how I acted during an orgasm, I’m pretty sure my husband would be quick to leave me!

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