by Laura Shanley
My introduction to the concept that birth could be orgasmic came via my college roommate Kim. We were discussing painless birth (I had just read Childbirth without Fear) when Kim casually said, “You know, some women actually have orgasms as they’re giving birth. My mom had one with me.”
What?! Even as open minded as I thought I was, the concept was almost embarrassing. I imagined this “mother” lying in a hospital bed, having an orgasm in front of a bunch of strangers – and doctors, no less. Yet I was definitely intrigued. If conception feels good, why not childbirth?
In the years to come, I would read about this phenomenon again and again, and although in my own births I was never able to achieve it, I think that in time, it will become more commonplace. Little by little, our culture is ridding itself of the fear, shame, and guilt that keep many of us from experiencing sex – let alone birth – as orgasmic. Perhaps someday, if we can fully accept our sexual natures, more of us will be able to know the joy that the following women have known.
“I had been told to expect a ‘dogging pain,’ but was unprepared for the sensation of sexual ecstasy, the voluptuous feeling of penetration….Crouched on my knees on the little afghan, I caught the infant who rushed from my vagina into the small world between my legs, in the midst of an extraordinary orgasm from the inside out.”
-From They Don’t Call it a Peak Experience for Nothing, by Ruth Claire(Mothering, Fall 1989)
“I feel the baby come down. The sensation is ecstatic. I had prepared somewhat for this being as painful as my last delivery had been. Yet this time the pulse of birth feels wonderful! I am building up to the birth climax after nine months of pleasurable foreplay. With one push the babe is in the canal. THE NEXT PUSH BRINGS HIM DOWN, DOWN INTO THAT SPACE JUST BEFORE ORGASM WHEN WE WOMEN KNOW HOW GOD MUST HAVE FELT CREATING THIS PLANET….HE COMES, AS DO I.”
-From Prenatal Yoga and Natural Birth, by Jeannine Parvati Baker
“I had the most sought-after midwife in France – my competent and funny aunt Marie-Therese, whose radical idea it was that childbirth above all should feel sexy. I listened to nothing but gospel music during my pregnancy, a music quite new to me, and to France, and “It’s a High Way to Heaven” (“…nothing can walk up there, but the pure in heart…”) was playing on the stereo during the birth; the warmth of the singers’ voices a perfect accompaniment to the lively fire in the fireplace. My vulva oiled and massaged to keep my hips open and my vagina fluid, I was orgasmic at the end. Petit Pierre practically slid into the world at the height of my amazement, smiling serenely even before he opened his eyes.”
-From Possessing the Secret of Joy, a novel by Alice Walker
“Many mothers experience a burning or splitting sensation as the largest diameter of the baby’s head passes through the birth outlet. Some actually experience orgasm.”
-From Mind Over Labor, by Carl Jones, C.C.E.
“In 1968, I gave birth to Robert Kirkpatrick. I was prepared, conscious, and in charge. After 4 hours from the onset of labour, I experienced an orgasm when my baby emerged from my body.”
-From “Ecstatic Birth: The conscious evolution of a possibility to a present reality,” by Binnie A. Dansby; Paper delivered at Congress of the International Society for Pre- and Peri- Natal Psychology and Medicine, Jerusalem, 1989
“I happen to think that having babies is very sexy. The actual birth is so sensuous, very erotic. The feelings we’ve both had at the birth of each of our babies were so primal.”
-Kate Capshaw Spielberg (a.k.a. Mrs. Steven Spielberg), McCall’s, May 1999
“I started pushing while Michael supported me as I squatted. Immediately, after one vigorous push I felt Damian coming down. A tremendous excitement filled the kitchen and Michael and I seemed to merge as our eyes met. It was as if we had become one again as we did in a genital embrace. Yes, we were one. It was not just I who was having the baby. Michael was as well. The moment had become ecstatic. Sensations of every kind and color coursed through me. I was one, one with everything….And with that I shouted in sheer delight as I felt Damian coming….out he shot, into the safety of Michael’s confident hands.”
-From Happy Birth Days, by Marilyn Moran
“Biologically, you are designed to receive great pleasure from your body not only during lovemaking and intercourse, but in birth and breastfeeding, too….Birth offers sexual pleasure on a continuum from pleasant sensations (felt while your uterus rhythmically contracts in early labor if you’re relaxed and feeling secure) to an intense birth climax (yes, just like an orgasm) as your baby slithers into the world of your waiting arms.”
-From A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, by Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer
“This birth was not only painless, but very pleasurable. We had never read about this aspect, and it took us by surprise. As the baby crowned, I knew from Jean’s look and sounds that she was having an explosive orgasm, which rolled on and on. What a long way from the pain and agony of conventional myth! Years later we asked a sympathetic doctor about this. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I’ve seen it a few times. It may even be that many women have orgasms during birth, but interpret them as pain because the sensations are more intense than anything previously experienced and because women are conditioned to expect pain.’”
-From The Home School Challenge, by Donn Reed
“Giving birth is a highly creative act full of orgasmic feelings, and can be a moment of ecstatic pleasure for the mother.”
-From “Mental First Aid in Pregnancy and Childbirth,” by Joost A.M. Meerloo, M.D. (Child and Family, Fall 1966)
“Pleasure in birth may be the starting point for optimal family relationships. Our knowledge of reproduction suggests there may be a biological reason for connecting pleasure in birth with the best outcome for the baby.”
-From “Psychological Factors in Birth and Breastfeeding,” by Niles Newton, Ph.D.
“Pushing was absolutely incredible. It felt SO good. I loved the sensation of my daughter’s head popping out; and her body coming out was incredible. I made roaring sounds. KT later asked me if I was in a lot of pain and I said I felt no pain at all. I was reaching down into the depths of my being – I felt like I was reaching back through time eternal, into the Great Mother herself – and using my power to push her out. The sounds were sounds of power. And I felt awesomely empowered. It was I could say the best feeling I have ever had. Primal force of life coursing through me. Power of Woman, Power of Birth, Power of Carolyn! If I can do that, I can do anything I set my mind to. The sensation of my daughter’s body sliding out of my vagina was orgasmic. I still shudder when I think of how pleasurable that was.”
“A woman in California was giving birth at home in a portable birth tub and feeling very sexy and loving with her partner. Each time she had a contraction she would cry out, ‘Oh, baby, I love it. More…more!’ Her windows were open because it was July, and soon a crowd gathered outside her home. When the baby was born amidst shouts of ‘Yes!!! Yes!!! Oh, my God, yes!!!’ her neighbors gave her a great round of applause. They only realized that it was a birth after they heard the cries of a baby.”
-From Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper, R.N.
“It was the ultimate climax. I felt open, loose and free. Words cannot explain the feeling as my baby’s body slithered out. To this day I can still sense that wonderful feeling inside. It makes me tingle.”
-From “Unconditional Faith,” by Allison Scimeca in the book Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love , by Lynn Griesemer
“Yet in a strange way the energy flowing through the body in childbirth, the pressure of contracting muscles, the downward movement of the baby and the fanning open of soft tissues, can be powerfully erotic….[Childbirth] can be the most intensely sexual feeling a woman ever experiences, as strong as orgasm, even more compelling than orgasm.”
-From Women’s Experience of Sex, by Sheila Kitzinger
“Birth is fundamentally a creative act, as is the act of sexual union….Indeed many women have described giving birth as intensely pleasurable and have discussed it in orgasmic terms….more and more women are enjoying labor and birth with their husbands just as they have enjoyed the sexual experience….Making love, orgasm and giving birth are all inter-connected.”
-From Special Delivery, by Rahima Baldwin
“It was ecstatic, wonderful, thrilling. I heard myself moaning – in triumph, not in pain! There was no pain whatsoever, only a primitive and sexual elation….With the most spiraling, fascinating thrill of all, I felt my baby slither out. I wanted to shout with joy.”
-From Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family, by Helen Wessel
”My first son was born by unexpected cesarian section. My second was a planned homebirth with a midwife assisting. He was posterior, so it was all back labor and he wouldn’t turn. There was a great deal of pain, but in the last few minutes, as much pain as there was, it suddenly swung the other way to huge waves of pleasure as his body came out – an incredible RUSH like nothing I had ever felt before or since. I said to my midwife, Dhyana, ‘Wow! What was that thing in the end!?’ She said, ‘That was The Gift. A lot of my ladies get that.’ I held that baby and instantly loved him with my whole being. Maybe this is the way that nature had intended it to be for us. Now, looking back, the only thing I can think is that he went ramrod over my G-spot…all 9 pounds of him.”
-From “The Gift,” by Susan
“I asked my husband to make love to me as I was in a very romantic mood and wanted to feel him inside me urgently. It was a wonderful experience. I had a few orgasms during contractions – an absolutely delightful sensation. There was no pain at all….(since then) our lovemaking has gone from great to extraordinary.”
-From “The Effect of Lovemaking on the Progress of Labor,” by Marilyn Moran (Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, Spring 1993)
“Birth has much in common with orgasm; the hormone oxytocin is released, there are uterine contractions, nipple erection, and under the best circumstances for birth, an orgasmic feeling.”
-From In Labor, by Barbara K. Rothman
“Birth is a dark, private, and secret opening up of our ancient sexual selves. Birth sensations, when we allow them to be, are actually highly sensual – much like the intense, luscious, squeezing contracting that happens during orgasms experienced in late pregnancy…. the sensations of giving birth are not fierce and violent; they are rapturous – we feel an ever-increasing pressure on our cervix as our body prepares for the sweetest, most intense of orgasms, the lovely culmination of our labors of love: birth. During birth, we pant, scream, and throw our head back – this is sensuality with a purpose: we are taking in extra oxygen, releasing adrenaline into our bloodstream, and widening our pelvic outlet. And when the baby comes out all slick and new, we are in ecstasy, enraptured by the most heightened hormonal load we will ever know.”
-From Resexualizing Childbirth, by Leilah McCracken
“At about 3 AM, I got a real feeling that the baby needed to be born, and also a great surge of energy, the first I had felt. Then I made a very astounding discovery. I was able, through prayer, to get knowledge directly from God, that birth is a sexual event, and involves the same mechanisms that the beginnings involve. I was able to get my labor started again and I was in hard labor within 15 minutes. As long as I was alone and able to yield to the sexual joy of the birthing, I was able to experience wonderful orgasmic feelings and no pain at all.”
-From Pat Goltz, in the newsletter, The New Nativity, edited by Marilyn Moran
“My body told me to squat, so I did. I hunkered down on two feet, concentrating, knowing without being told that millions of females before me had brought their babies into the world in this ordained position. It felt so deliciously comfortable to squat; I felt the baby move down. Come…COME… COMMMMME!
It was then I began to scream, but not with pain – with joy. With release. I felt an enormous all-body orgasm as I bore down, again, and again, and again, crying out with lust and happiness. The baby was coming, and so was I. I pushed an enormous last push with every fiber of my being; the head and shoulders appeared. By then I was sobbing. I reached under the baby’s armpits and pulled out…a child. A living, breathing infant…born perfect. Perfectly beautiful. My daughter.”
-From Awakening, by Jen Bradley
“I returned upstairs with some of Stella’s dance tapes. Belly dancing to the music, I found that the contractions were much more bearable….Oddly enough, the more obscenely I thrust my pelvis back and forth, the less it hurt. I was amazed! Why hadn’t I known that these movements were linked to the act of birthing, I wondered….Moments later, I discovered that all the pelvic thrusting I had been doing in my life – dancing to get a date, making love, and now, giving birth – was integrally connected. All that thrusting had gotten me pregnant, and all this thrusting would help bring a new life into the world. While the drums banged in my head, I was serene knowing that I had found the secret to life: the glorious pelvic thrust.”
-From “The Glorious Pelvic Thrust,” by Maria Young Alders (Mothering, Winter 1994)
“Birth is always intimate and sexual, although the intimacy and the sexuality can be masked. My own personal experience of the births of my children confirms this. My feelings throughout my wife’s labors I can describe only as those of a very close, physical-emotional, sexual union with her and what I felt to be the transcendent force flowing through her. The sensation was warm and soft, like making love, but was also strong, forceful and awesome. Each time the experience changed my life and allowed me a glimpse of the transcendental.”
-Lewis E. Mehl, M.D., quoted in “Psychophysiological Aspects of Childbirth,” in The Psychology of Birth, by Leslie Feher
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Photos of Summer Elliott copyright Lisa Cape.