What is orgasmic birth?
The idea of orgasmic birth may seem strange, provocative, and to some -- flatly unreachable. But is this because the concept is flawed or simply outside of our cultural understanding of birth? Debra Pascali-Bonaros, the director of the film and book, Orgasmic Birth, challenges the viewer to see past our cultural limitations and to recognize the "emotional, spiritual and physical heights attainable through birth."
Changing the way we think about birth
Birth is a dynamic and beautiful part of the natural cycle of life. But the increasing medicalization of birth has created a society which views birth as an emergency waiting to happen. Pascali-Bonaros created this new term in an effort to revolutionize the way we think about birth. Birth does not have to be a frightening or painful experience. In fact, given the right circumstances, it can be sensual, powerful, ecstatic and even transcendent.
If this seems like just a lot of hype, be prepared for a shock when you watch the women in the video. These birthing moms are not only experiencing painless labors but are clearly enjoying the throes of it. But what's the catch?
Sexual vs. sensual
Doula Rosemary Beyer explains, "People might perceive orgasmic birth as something sexual. But actually the word orgasmic simply describes something that creates heights of intense emotion and can include physical pleasure as well. When you have an orgasmic birth, you are in a state of blissful ecstasy and experience a feeling of complete satisfaction. It is a sensual, rather than a sexual experience."
There are many tools you can use to create the right environment for an orgasmic birth. A quiet, dark, relaxed environment, a trusted birth team, aromatherapy, soft music, and a place free of commotion and constant interruptions are key elements to building a safe space where such a birth can occur. Many women who experience orgasmic birth also have the continuous support of a doula, midwife or other birth assistant who helps to guide them for the duration of their labor and delivery.
Maren's orgasmic birth
Maren Gerstner believes her second birth was orgasmic, "During labor I felt extremely connected with my baby like we were going through it together. I rode the labor waves rather than fighting against them. I imagined myself in a little boat riding the wave. I felt like I was riding it rather than it controlling me. I made low moaning noises because I had read that doing that can help you relax and encourage the labor to move forward. When he was born, it wasn't physically orgasmic, but it also wasn't physically painful, and the emotional release was equivalent to what you would have with orgasm. I breathed my baby gently and ecstatically into the world."
Pascali-Bonaros says, "Our message is one of choice, of finding the path to a safe, satisfying birth. We respect and honor each woman's experience -- those who have long, hard, challenging and painful births, as well as women who have difficult, rewarding and pleasurable births. This is not a competition. Why are we so comfortable with painful birth? I hope you can allow yourself to look beyond the typical box we have created for birth and open the discussion to ways we can help women to have easier, more pleasurable and transformative births."