Almost everybody I know has had a normal delivery, with and without pain medication, and I've listened in detail to the different types of contractions, the focal points of pain and the sudden plop of relief or lack-of-pain, kind of like blank sound, when the baby eases out. But I've never heard of an orgasmic birth, having an orgasm or a series of orgasms while giving birth. It's a theory that 'natural birth proponents' talk about: a birthing process that has no pain medication, little or not grunting or screaming, lots of breathing and physical touch with the partner/father, and where contractions are acutally orgasms.
Amber Hartnell did not intend to have an orgasmic birth - it just happened. "Trying to have an orgasmic birth defeats the object," she says, "I just got into this ecstatic state where I had these peaks of orgasm. There were these rolling waves coming through me where I was laughing and crying. I didn't feel like I was having contractions. They were more like rushes. I did not actually experience pain, I experienced intense sensations."
"It was the most overwhelming pleasure I have ever felt in my life," Hartnell says.
First up, let me be honest that the idea is mildly offensive to me. Maybe I'm being a prude, but while sex can be and should be recreational, the process of pregnancy and creating a life and a soul transcends mere procreational needs. An orgasm seems so, trifle, considering what it is being associated with, somehow. One of my concerns during pregnancy was related to breastfeeding: how would it feel considering I'm very sensitive in that part of my anatomy? Breastfeeding was a delight: and I actually felt 'useful': if you can understand that. It was as if discovering the real purpose to having a particularly shaped body. It was in no way titillating, and the pleasure I derived from it was emotional, rather than physical, given how painful it can be sometimes.
That's why this whole theory about orgasmic birth is intriguing, for the lack of another word. It's not sado-masochistic as it seems - believers say this is not an instance of deriving pain through pleasure. Maybe what bothers me is that it sounds like there is an underlying expectation that birth should be pleasurable, that it is a choice between pain and pleasure. It questions my needs to screech, to feel fear, to rant about my gender and it's afflictions, to given in to my limitations as a human being: it lays yet another brick of guilt on top the many that entomb mothers.
But is it really such a loony thing? The Bhagwad Gita's Sundar Kand describes Devaki's labour in synonyms with nature, and her relief in Krishna's birth also, with similar simile that could be construed to mean that she felt absolute pleasure when he was born. There are many, including Osho, who believe there is a thin line between spiritual pleasure and sexual pleasure, and that an orgasm is close to meditation: its a split second where the mind is completely blank, devoid of any negative thoughts, immersed in pure pleasure that by its lack of negativity, becomes a positive source of energy. Several streams of medicine including Acupressure and Homeopathy believe that a child experiences physical, medical and spiritual side effects of his/her birthing: there are afflictions associated with how long the labour lasted, how the head was positioned, was it an easy plop or a major push-and-grunt affair. Does this then mean that having a pleasurable birth affects the child too?
What do you think: Before you classify this as a loony new trend that's taken Western imagination by storm, read the article and try and watch the video (it's a bit graphic for office/kid viewing). Have you experienced an orgasmic birth? Or a feeling similar to pleasure, that you're unable to tag as an orgasm? Does this disgust you, like it did me, when I first read it? Or is it one of those metaphysical cum spiritual things about motherhood and the gift of creating life that we're only meant understand when we are ready?