Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood
Yes, ma’am, it’s possible! But that might not mean having an actual orgasm. Only about 6 percent of women have orgasms during birth, and much of that is due to genetics — those ladies aren’t Aphrodite, they’re just lucky. According to a study in the journal Biology Letters, genes account for 34 to 45 percent of a woman’s ability to climax. However, it’s near impossible to know if you have orgasm-inclined genes. What you do know is how easy it is for you to have an orgasm. If you’re a climax machine, maybe your genes are helping you out, or maybe you just have your finger on the pulse of what turns you on. Whatever the reason, if it’s fairly easy for you to orgasm, you have a better chance of orgasming during labor. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost if you really have to work to get that pleasure-explosion — the “What to do” section will help you up your chance of floating in a sea of orgasms (or at least a little lake) during birth.
Beyond genetics, what’s the deal with orgasms showing up amidst an experience many tout as exceptionally painful? First of all, two of the regions in the brain that are active during orgasm — the anterior cingulated cortex and the insula — are also active during painful sensations (Oh hi there, contractions). In addition, orgasm and childbirth both produce strong surges of blood, oxytocin, and endorphins and stimulate the birth passage, cervix, clitoris, and vagina. So there you go — orgasm and childbirth aren’t the antonyms many believe them to be.
But now I want to shake up this question. I want to propose we shift the term orgasm to orgasmic. Because even if you’re not rolling in orgasms as you’re getting that baby out, you can still have a birth filled with euphoria, empowerment, transformation, joy, connection, and love: essentially, an orgasmic birth. Think about it — although we all love our orgasms, can’t you think of hundreds of instances in life where you weren’t orgasming but still felt incredible? You can bring that goodness into birth.
What to do
Set yourself up for orgasms during birth, and/or an orgasmic birth, by releasing preconceived notions about pain, shame around sexuality, and doubt about your ability to birth.
Prepare. Most women who have orgasmic births prepare thoroughly, often taking at least one childbirth prep class, reading the book Orgasmic Birth by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, and watching the documentary Orgasmic Birth: The Best Kept Secret. They then practice many of the techniques learned from these resources on a daily basis, specifically fear-release practices. As my grandma would say, they didn’t go into birth all willy-nilly.
Hold a belief in an orgasmic birth. Going into labor with the belief that an orgasmic birth is possible can transform your experience and make it more likely to lead to an orgasmic birth. As I mentioned, this orgasmic birth might not be filled with orgasms, but it will be composed of a trust that birth isn’t all about pain; can be infused with moments of deep connection with your body, baby, and partner; and can unleash a power and confidence that will make you feel like a total goddess. This type of birth is just as good (or at least almost as good) as a birth sprinkled with orgasms.
Examine your beliefs about sexuality. Did you grow up with a belief that sex and masturbation are taboo? If so, you’re not alone, and it’s not too late to reprogram. You can begin shifting your perceptions of sex and masturbation by first examining what your beliefs are, and where they came from. Are they things you actually believe on the deepest level? Or are they ideas planted by someone else? Next, connect with your sexuality in a new way by partaking in the art of masturbation, and taking note of what turns you on. What type of pressure and speed does it for you? Where do you like to be touched? Share your findings with your partner. Then, talk with them about getting more creative during sex by playing around with positions, dirty talk, eye contact, or anything else that piques your arousal. And finally, do the things you’ve just talked about.
To support this sexual reprogramming and awakening, listen to this guided mediation: yourserenelife.wordpress.com/orgasmic-birth/.
Edit key birth words. Remove fearful, constrictive terminology from your childbirth lexicon by making a few substitutions. Begin by swapping the term contractions (it sounds so restrictive!) with the word surge, as it sends more fluid, pleasurable messages from the mind to the body. And instead of saying or thinking the word pain when you’re having a surge, name the actual sensations you’re feeling. For example, “I feel a pulling up in my abdomen, a tightening in my back, and pressure in my vagina.” These swaps give you a better chance of tapping into the ecstasy that can live in childbirth.
Consider a birth center or home birth, or create a soothing hospital room. Because it’s easier to have an orgasm, or feel orgasmic, in a space that feels homey, soothing, and private, choosing to birth in a birth center or at home will likely increase your chance of having an orgasmic birth.
However, if the idea of birthing in a hospital comforts you, you might experience anxiety if you birthed anywhere else. If that’s you, think about how to transform your hospital room into a birth sanctuary. For example, you could bring battery-powered candles, a soft robe and cozy socks, a silk pillowcase, a portable speaker and playlist of relaxing music, an essential oil diffuser and your favorite oils, honey sticks, and anything else that comforts one of your five senses. In addition, hiring a doula can add an incredible layer of support to a birth in any location, but especially in a hospital.
Ask for complete privacy. You’re unlikely to have an orgasm while your midwife and her assistant whisper about birth stuff in the corner or a nurse checks your vitals. Up your chance of feeling free enough to let waves of pleasure wash through you by asking anyone you don’t feel comfortable moaning in front of to leave the room.
Stimulate your clitoris. Clitoral stimulation is one of the surest paths to an orgasm, and it can make you less sensitive to painful stimulation — it’s like a medication-free epidural. But many women are hesitant to masturbate during birth because they feel strange mixing this sexual act with bringing their baby into the world. There are two ways to get around this.
One, go into the bathroom for ultimate privacy, or as I just mentioned, ask everyone to leave the room, with the exception of your partner, if you’re comfortable with them being there or even helping you.
Two, if the sexual component of masturbation is tripping you up, change the way you think about it. Think of it as just another pain-relieving tool you’re using for childbirth. It’s not masturbation, it’s a “pain-soothing vaginal massage.” And if you really want to up your chances of reaching that sweet O, do as many women before you have done and use a vibrator.
Moan. When you feel yourself at the tipping point between pain and pleasure, let out long, low moans to release painful energy and call in euphoria.
Rub your nipples, and make out with your partner. These sensual acts awaken arousal and release oxytocin, which can speed up your birth by triggering more effective surges.
Breathe. As you feel a surge coming on, take in a long, deep inhalation through your nose, allowing your lower and upper abdomen to fully expand. When you reach full capacity, exhale through your nose at the same slow pace. As the surge intensifies, you’ll likely hit a “wall of resistance.” When this happens, your mind will try to trick you into thinking that continuing to breathe in and expand your abdomen will cause an explosion of pain. But the opposite is true. Continuing to inhale and expand will bust past that wall and help you access the relief that can lead to pleasure.
Remember that pain isn’t the enemy. Many have the misconception that an orgasmic birth is free of pain. But often an orgasmic birth consists of repeatedly coming to a tipping point between pain and pleasure, and swaying between both until you make the decision and take the actions to tip fully into pleasure. And sometimes you’ll tip into pain, and that’s okay. Pain isn’t a bad sign during childbirth, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong — it’s an organic part of the journey. When you can surrender to it, instead of resisting or fearing it, it often transforms. Almost every woman who has had an orgasmic birth will tell you that she danced with both pain and pleasure, and it made for a fuller experience.
Connect to an orgasmic energy orbit. Envision a never-ending supply of warm, golden energy spiraling down from the stars, becoming more and more concentrated as it swirls through your body. This energy is most potent as it moves through your uterus, out your cervix, and finally washes over your vagina and clitoris. Feel this energy activating your endorphins as it moves down. Train your mind and body to easily tap into this orgasmic energy by practicing this visualization every morning and evening.
Submerge yourself in warm water as much as possible. The relief that warm water provides allows your muscles to relax and become more susceptible to orgasmic sensations. If you don’t have access to a tub during birth, sit in the shower.