One of my long term interests is neurobiology and I heard about this years ago as a nervous system oddity. I wonder how many women who give birth miss out by getting drugged up and by having the wrong environment.
… As my contractions intensified and I got closer to giving birth, I remember starting to feel the sensations. It was the most incredible feeling that began in my pelvis and rippled through my entire lower body. It was wave upon wave of what can only be described as pure pleasure. My pelvis began pushing downwards involuntarily and my legs were trembling as I experienced a prolonged orgasm that lasted what seemed like hours, although during birth your concept of time is very different.
I know now that it was probably more like a series of orgasms over an hour. My husband said afterwards that I was shouting, “Oh my God, it’s so beautiful, it’s like making love”, over and over again. I was trembling and smiling. The doula said my clitoris was pulsating and I kept closing my eyes in ecstasy with each passing wave as the baby moved downwards. My husband was open- mouthed. He didn’t quite know what to say. He said later that it was obvious what was going on.
My baby arrived, without any pain relief, three hours later, and my recovery was incredibly quick because I did not tear or need stitches. I felt wonderful, but was slightly confused and embarrassed about what I had experienced. I also felt somehow guilty that I had felt something usually associated with sexual intercourse during the birth of my daughter. But when I went online, I found hundreds of women blogging about similar experiences.
Sheila Kitzinger, a social anthropologist specialising in birth and author of The New Pregnancy and Childbirth (Dorling Kindersley, £20)
I’ve been talking about this for years. Though asking people to “see” it is a bit much — how do you know if you’ve witnessed it?
An orgasmic birth needn’t mean you’re climbing the walls and screaming. The problem is that birth is clock-watched and managed, often aggressively, so that women can’t be spontaneous. When a woman is in labour, and has people telling her what to do and how to breathe, she can’t be spontaneous. But when she can, giving birth can be absolutely amazing — warm waves of passion. When the baby’s head reaches the perineum it stimulates an erotic response known as Ferguson’s reflex. That is, if it isn’t destroyed by her being told how and when to push.
Maggie Howell, founder and director of Natal Hypnotherapy
For the majority of women, birth is an ordeal to “get through”. However, for a small handful of women, birth can be an ecstatic, empowering and even orgasmic experience. If a woman feels completely safe, relaxed, confident and trusting in her body, then her experience can be pleasurable and enjoyable.
The process of giving birth involves the release of many of the same hormones and physical changes that take place when making love. It is therefore possible that women experience orgasm during birth.