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Orgasmic Birth: Pleasure or Pain?


If you asked a woman in the Western World about the most painful experience of her life, she would inevitably rank childbirth at the top. Most traditional healthcare providers however aren’t bringing up the potential for a pleasurable orgasmic birth experience with expectant mothers. Why? The topic of women’s pleasure is still taboo in many cultures. The academic literature on the topic is also sorely lacking. 

Western culture has deeply embedded notions of birth being excruciating in every sense. It rarely recognizes the potential for pleasure in the birthing experience. In societies with higher levels of sexual shame, women actually experience more pain during childbirth.

Luckily, there is a growing movement of practitioners supporting women in more natural birthing processes. They are encouraging them to access their pleasure for a more enjoyable and profound experience.

These practitioners are guiding women through orgasmic or ecstatic birth by teaching them to access the intelligence of their bodies. The goal is to decrease pain and find bliss in childbirth – flipping the switch on the current cultural narrative, and including birth as a part of women’s sexual experience.

What is Orgasmic Birth

Orgasmic birth embraces childbirth as an essential part of a woman’s sexuality, similar to menstruation and menopause. Put simply – orgasmic birth is the experience of having an orgasm during labor. This however can look and feel different for each woman.

According to one study, nearly 0.3 percent of women experience orgasm during labor. It’s important to remember that the experience of orgasm is subjective for women though. Many women may experience pleasurable sensations during childbirth, but may not feel comfortable talking about it. Or they feel they don’t have the support to fully embrace the experience.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, the director of the documentary “Orgasmic Birth,” explains that “an orgasmic birth is a heightened physical and emotional sensation.” She points out that all orgasms are a subjective experience – and the same is true for ecstatic birth. 

Can orgasm induce labor?

Causes & Benefits of the Birthgasm Experience

Also described as a birthgasm, orgasm during labor has many positive benefits. Not only can birthgasms be extremely blissful for the mother, they can release a cocktail of hormones that are beneficial for both mother and child. 

Hormones released during childbirth are many of the same hormones present throughout a woman’s sexual life. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is released during the birthing process and can support bonds between mother and child. Essential beta-endorphins and adrenaline are also delivered to the system. 

One possible explanation for the experience of birthgasm is that, when the baby comes down through the birth canal, its head puts pressure on two important nerve systems: the hypogastric and the pelvic. The intense pressure on these nerves can induce orgasm in some women. This makes sense, considering G Spot, cervical, and vaginal orgasms are caused by a firm stimulation of the receptors of these two nerves.

For some women, the experience of birthgasm is unexpected and unintentional. Other women however actively use a vibrator, masturbate, or receive touch from a partner during the process. This stimulation can help reduce pain and make them more receptive to pleasure during childbirth.

Can Orgasm Help Induce Labor? 

Many eager parents-to-be have also gotten it on in the hopes that orgasm will help induce labor. While this scene has often been played out in popular culture, the science is actually split on the question of ‘can orgasm help induce labor?’  

One study suggests that prostaglandins found in semen impact the female body, and in turn labor. Prostaglandins are “lipid compounds that produce hormone-like” effects and they are most concentrated in semen. If semen is ejaculated and deposited near the cervix, they can help soften it to prepare for dilation and may even cause the uterus to contract. The same study reports that uterine contractions caused by orgasm may be enough to start the birthing process. 

Other researchers have suggested that prostaglandins don’t have any impact on the birthing process. They assert that the concentration of prostaglandins may be too low to have any impact on the cervix. Additionally, the effects of an orgasm from partnered sex or masturbation may not be able to start a process that isn’t already in motion. While female orgasm can spark contractions, “a few contractions are not enough to initiate labor.” 

Image of woman in orgasmic birth

According to an article from Healthline, “If your body isn’t ready to labor, nothing you do will necessarily get you going.” Having sex won’t cause labor to begin, but can be supportive if the process has already started. Orgasm causes uterine contractions and releases more oxytocin into the body, both of which are essential to the labor process.

Bringing pleasure and orgasm into the birthing process supports the body’s inherent wisdom and function that makes birth possible. Even though the research is split, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try (and enjoy) this method yourself. 

Orgasmic Birth As a Movement 

Bringing pleasure and orgasm back to the labor process is about more than physiology. For many, orgasmic birth is a movement about recognizing childbirth as an essential part of women’s sexuality. It also symbolizes trusting the body’s wisdom and natural processes.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, argues that  “the ‘overuse’ of drugs, technology, and ‘altering everyone’s hormones haven’t improved birth in the U.S. In fact, there has been a rise in maternal mortality rates in the U.S. One in six women reported mistreatment during childbirth.  

Pascali suggests that the less we do to impact our natural hormones, the better off mother and child are. Pleasure in the birthing process supports those natural hormones, can help reduce pain, and empowers women to choose the type of birthing experience they want.  

How a Sex Coach Can Help

If you are curious and want to see how you can incorporate pleasure into your birthing process, but aren’t getting support from your healthcare provider, you may want to talk to a sex coach.

A sex coach can help you explore this topic in an open, non-judgmental atmosphere, teach you to move beyond shame and embrace orgasmic birth as a blissful, transformative experience.

Get in touch with us so we can figure out how to best support you.

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