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Experts agree that a small minority of women are able to have an orgasm while giving birth. The experience is believed to be due in part to individual expectations. Women who experience orgasm during birth often believe that childbirth does not have to be as painful as they were brought up to expect. These mothers work throughout their entire pregnancies to prepare for an orgasmic birth.
An orgasmic childbirth does not necessarily mean that no pain at all will be experienced. The pain of giving birth can instead be masked by or coupled with the pleasure of orgasm. Many women find that having an orgasm during birth makes natural birth easier. Studies have shown that pain and vaginal tearing can be reduced during this kind of birth.
This reduction in pain is generally associated with a hormone called oxytocin, which is the same hormone that releases when a woman orgasms during sexual intercourse. This hormone is often called the love hormone, and it greatly influences how the female brain reacts to intense emotions. Oxytocin is also responsible for helping new mothers relax and bond with their infants during breastfeeding, which can be painful.
Oxytocin is released during birth when Ferguson's reflex occurs. This reflex refers to the positive reaction that the female body has to any kind of pressure on the walls of the vagina or the cervix. The release of oxytocin increases the rate of contractions, which in turn increases the amount of hormone that is released.
When a woman experiences an orgasm during birth, she increases the blood flow to her vagina. It can also increase the amount of nutrients in that area. Studies have shown that these nutrients and flow of blood can help prevent damage from occurring to the vaginal walls.
Emotions and expectations may play a key role in how an orgasmic birth is achieved. Many mothers prepare their minds and bodies during the nine months of pregnancy to be ready to have an orgasm during birth. According to many moms, birthing mothers must believe that an orgasm during birth is possible and be ready to relax and experience it. Stress and fear are known to elevate stress hormones, which can contribute to blocking the amount of oxytocin released.
In order for mothers to have orgasms during birth, it may be helpful to plan for natural home births. Pain medication can block the way the mother's body is reacting to the birth. In addition, a regular hospital setting may not provide the correct stimulation to allow a woman to concentrate on achieving orgasm.
@ElizaBennett - I agree with you that it's important to keep an open mind about your birth experience. I tried to have a natural birth, but I required a C-section (sounds like something similar happened to you). Even with experienced midwives and educated, committed mothers, a small percentage of women will require C-section. (After all, however overused the operation may be today, it was invented to keep women from dying in childbirth.)
For me, the book that helped me accept my birth experience was by Ricki Lake, of all people: "Your Best Birth." There are plenty of books out there about how to have a natural birth and even, yes, maximize your chance of experiencing orgasm (I have a friend who did - not sure if I'm jealous or not!), but this was the one book for me that acknowledged that some babies choose their own way to be born, and it may not be what Mom had in mind!
Orgasm during childbirth is certainly possible, but I don't think it's something women should count on or make a goal of - just a nice bonus *if* it happens.
There is an unfortunate tendency un the natural childbirth community to concentrate on how birth can be wonderful in a way that makes moms who found their births painful or unpleasant feel disappointed.
My babies were both born in hospitals; the first was a planned C-section for good medical reasons and I felt it would be best to have my first VBAC in a hospital. But I attended my sister's home birth. She experienced a precipitous labor - two hours start to finish! Because it was so short, it was intense and painful. Sometimes that's just how it goes!
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