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25 June 2010

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Lisa

I heard about this and though I've never given birth, I agree that I can't POSSIBLY imagine the orgasmic birth to be real! Unless you are a masochist and enjoy pain?

bearing

I think there are useful comparisons to be made between the two: intenseness of sensation, involvement of the same body parts, the helpfulness of relaxation, and it's definitely true that the moment of actual birth (the end of crowning and birth of the baby's head) feels good in a cathartic way. So I don't think the comparisons are baseless. However, "birth is like an orgasm in certain ways" is not the same as "birth is orgasmic."

christina

pffft-- whatev. the fact that she experiences birth as mind-bendingly painful does not erase the experience of women who experience labor and/or birth as orgasmic. orgasmic birth is not wishful thinking or an unconfirmable hypothesis-- i've read the birth stories, and i've seen the video clips. and while i think it's naive to insist that any woman can have an orgasmic birth if she just tries hard enough, calling bullshit on someone else's experience based on one's own is incredibly cynical, and borders on rude.

christina (who has, so far, experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, back labor, and nothing approaching orgasm during three rather painful labors)

bearing

You know, I have definitely heard/read people who mention that they have read birth stories that described "orgasmic" birth, but I don't think I have ever read seen such a story myself, nor have I ever met in person anyone who claims it. This is testimony I've only heard third-hand. Christina, if you have any links to good examples, I'd gladly check them out.

FWIW, I am not sure we are making enough distinction between LABOR and BIRTH -- it makes more sense to me that BIRTH (the END of labor) might be described as orgasmic, because cathartic, than labor itself, which generally stinks.

christina

http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/sensual/orgasmic.html
laura shanley's site has snippets from several birth stories, and was the easiest one i could find. it also includes a trailer for the movie "orgasmic birth".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5bm9-B6Ec4&feature=related
this video is of a news story that includes a clip of a woman laboring in obvious pleasure.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=1218320
a couple of ladies here briefly mention their experience with pleasurable/orgasmic birth.

there's one particular birth story that i'm trying to find but can't. it was really neat, in that the mother mentioned how, at one point while laboring, she happened to get in the position that she and her husband used most often for sex late in her pregnancy, and it turned her labor from painful to very pleasurable-- and while that wasn't her intention, she was happy to go with it. i wish i could find it again! anyway, that's what i've found so far.

MrsDarwin

Well, call me closeminded, but I don't intend to watch a video of someone claiming to have an orgamsm in any circumstance. However, in the interests of fairness, I've posted the links for any of my readers who may feel so inclined.

bearing

BTW, reading over the comments, I want to point out that there is a BIG difference between saying that labor can be "orgasmic" and that labor can be "pleasurable." Are some of the people who claim "orgasmic" labor really just exaggerating, maybe?

I mean, I definitely had times in all four of my labors (and not just the birth part) that were pleasurable. I found the pushing stage to be pleasurable, for instance. Now, I wouldn't say that "pleasurable" was the DOMINANT adjective I'd apply to being in labor, but I could see how someone else might have a stronger memory and impression coming from the pleasurable moments than from the painful ones, and come to feel that pleasure was the dominant "mode" of the labor and birth.

MrsDarwin

I'm not going to say that every moment I was in labor was unadulterated misery (the breaks between contractions were quite a relief, though as I point out in my post, part of that relief is the negative absence of pain, not the positive experience of pleasure). I could joke and make conversation with my midwife -- when I felt like it. And I don't tend to scream or moan or make tons of noise in labor, so I suppose, if someone had been videotaping me, that I wouldn't have looked like I was having an awful time. I remember after my fourth was born, I laid almost sobbing on the bed mumbling, "Thank God!", which could look post-orgasmic, maybe, but I was really just glad that was over.

I can't say I've ever found pushing pleasurable, but mine tend to come out fast and the pain of the stretching and tearing is pretty overwhelming to me. Maybe it's different if you don't tear?

Kate

I've read that the 'Orgasmic Birth' documentary and it's accompanying blog and materials were originally supposed to be titled 'Sensual Birth', but the distributor pushed for Orgasmic as being a title that would create more buzz. So I do think that a deeper look into the experiences of people writing and referencing these sorts of books would be that they are indeed referring to the possibility that birth can be pleasurable, or at least not overwhelmingly painful, the obvious truth that birth is sexual, and the experience of women who have had births that were sensually similar in some ways to orgasm.

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