Courtesy of Elle Stranger

Childbirth Absolutely Changed The Way I Orgasm

Ad failed to load

Before I had my first baby. I’d always been an orgasmic gal. My mom caught me humping my giant stuffed elephant before I was old enough to ride a bike, and in kindergarten, I learned that if I sat “criss-cross-applesauce,” I could rub my right heel against my pubic mound to stimulate my tiny self to orgasm, with hardly anyone the wiser. But if I'm being honest, it was having a baby that totally changed my relationship with my orgasm — and to get even more specific, childbirth changed my ability to orgasm.

I’ve always had a close relationship with my genitals, as well as a desire to touch them. That didn’t change when I was pregnant. A quick rubbing or vibrating to orgasm provided a reliable dose of self-made oxytocin and prolactin, the so-called “feel-good hormones,” which eased my pain. My masturbatory orgasms were always quick and reliable, and it didn’t bother me that I rarely experienced them during partnered sex. Like so many women, I was adept at faking orgasms when with another person. Like most American women, I had a lot of confusion around my own desires, a lot of inherited shame from our culture, and a lot of expectations I felt I needed to fulfill. I know now that I wasn’t having orgasms for much of my life because I was not honest with my desires or with my body. And despite being so out of touch with my body, I expected my labor to be easy.

And then, it was not. I puked, I sh*t the hospital bed, I was wondering why I wasn’t progressing at all. When I went into labor, my cervix dilated at a creeping 1 cm a day, for three days. That’s right: I was in active labor for nearly three days, and 68 hours is a long time to be in labor, unable to eat much or sleep for more than 15 minutes due to teeth-gritting contractions. Sixty-eight hours is a long time to have a 10-pound human slowly winding through your vaginal canal. I’ll never forget attempting to do the math: Did these fiery, torso-tearing contractions balance out the tens of thousands of orgasms I’d experienced over a lifetime? I’m still unsure.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Elle Stanger

At the end of the second day I relented, and science saved us both with a c-section. I did not have a vaginal birth, but I had a very vaginal labor. At one point, I asked the nurse for a bag of ice on my crotch, only to realize that there was already one there. I eventually healed well, but my body had been through the gauntlet. The surprise of a difficult and lengthy labor, coupled with my surgery, led me to question my relationship with my genitals for the first time in my life. I'd always valued my sexuality, and I didn’t want to become one of those women who pushes her sexuality to the wayside because of mom life. Instead, I wanted to nurture the parts of my body that are reserved for sex and birth, by growing a deeper knowledge of my body, as a mother.

Pain is the antithesis of pleasure, and now that I knew what depths of agony I could feel from my inner core, I felt that having unfulfilling partnered sex was simply a waste of my time.
Ad failed to load

I was a tough woman, or so I had thought, but I felt betrayed by my own body, like I was physiologically incapable of having an easier birth. I'd been having clitoral orgasms since I was a child, but now I was a mother, a grown woman. The level of pain that I lived though made me desire a deeper understanding of my inner parts. I am a strong Viking woman, or so I had thought. I'd sat through tattoos in my armpits and on my scalp with hardly a squirm. I'd been in knuckle-bloodying fistfights as a teenager. I'd climbed the trees and crashed the bicycles. But as a grown woman, I was shocked at how shook I felt by my own childbirth. After reaching the pit of agony stretched through my birth canal, I felt that I owed it to myself to discover the peak of its ecstasy.

Pain is the antithesis of pleasure, and now that I knew what depths of agony I could feel from my inner core, I felt that having unfulfilling partnered sex was simply a waste of my time. My pal Sabina was equally inspired. She told me:

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Elle Stanger

I'd been having sex for 10 years before I birthed my baby, and I realized that much of it was unsatisfactory. I had always had the sneaking suspicion; none of the poetry, music, or porn that spoke of fireworks or seeing stars really resonated with me. And with a labor so painful and lengthy, I was pretty pissed about it. I decided to become honest with myself, and to learn more about the taboo parts integral to our existence. I got to know my vagina, and I started experimenting more with my masturbation and with my partnered sex.

I am, finally, after 15 years of having sex, honest with myself about the quality of sex that I want. I work too hard, on too many projects, with only 24 hours in a day. I simply don’t have time to spend on sex that is not connective or fulfilling. I know what I like. I know what I dislike. I tell my partner before we have sex, “Please don’t put anything in my butt unless I ask, pull my hair gently if at all, and I hate spitting.” And I ask if they have any deal-breakers or requests. We agree on a safe word, which is something that can never be confused in a sexual context, “skateboard” or “banana” seems to work pretty well. When I trust that I’m not going to be disgusted or annoyed by something, I relax. When you are relaxed, you’ll have better sex. Food tastes better. You sleep better.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Elle Stanger

When I have deep vaginal orgasms from sex, I feel otherworldly. I feel primitive. I feel animalistic. And typically I am in a missionary position, in the dark, in what is sometimes considered a very “boring” way to copulate. And I don’t care! I know how I prefer to come, and I know what to do to get there.

When I began my exploration into sexual enrichment, I shook loose the stigmas and biases that had been ingrained in me by inept “sex education." I know what kind of otherworldly orgasms I can have, because I've learned to toss aside my anxieties about sex, and learned how to manage my expectations. Sex is not always going to result in an orgasm, for men or women. The goal of sex should be shared pleasure and touch, not an ejaculation or orgasm. There is not a required time limit for sex, nor should there be. Sex is not a smooth, seamless travel from Point A to Point B.

Ad failed to load
I take joy in knowing that my inner lips are not “minora” at all, and if they have stretched and grown with labor, it just means there's more surface area waiting to be stimulated.

Before having a baby, I'd never been as deeply interested in my vaginal canal or my g-spot as I was postpartum. The quarter-sized portion of vagina wall, about two inches deep and anterior, pushes against something called a urethral bulb, and gosh darn is it fun to play with. I’ve had a fun time teaching my partners the two-step method to my vaginal ejaculation. Did you know that pee, sweat, tears, and squirt contain the same ingredients, but at different levels? There is no shame in my secretion game.

Courtesy of Elle Stanger
Ad failed to load

I also forgave my body for looking different than it had before pregnancy and after my baby was born. The heavy, sagging sack of skin that was my midsection felt less nagging and pendulous when I wore a compression tank, and I loved how porny I looked with my dark, and full breasts exploding out of the top. When I don’t love my midsection, I wear tights and cut a space in the crotch for my pubic mound, labia, clitoris, and anus to peek out. I ask my lover to kiss my c-section scar. I take joy in knowing that my inner lips are not “minora” at all, and if they have stretched and grown with labor, it just means there's more surface area waiting to be stimulated.

Says Sabina:

Ad failed to load

Childbirth changed my ability to orgasm because it motivated me to understand my body. I’ve been having partnered sex for 15 years, but the last four years have been my most orgasmic, creative, and soul-nurturing. Before I was a mother, sex was fun, but hardly as fulfilling as it is today. The difference is that I know what my body is capable of, and what it's not. I know when I’m too tired to give a good blowjob, and I give my partner a heads up when I want “lazy, calm” sex. I told my daughter’s father that I didn’t feel like my breasts belonged to me for sexual pleasure, and so we didn’t touch them until she weaned.

The day I finally spoke up and said, “You know, I actually don’t like it when you pull my butt cheeks apart during doggy," changed my life. And in the last four years, more people have thanked me for asking for what I like, and for asking them what they like, than all of those prior years combined.

I think of my sexuality as a historical timeline of events and memories. My body’s rhythms have changed, and I no longer pressure myself to perform. I'm also not always seeking orgasm, but when I do, it's better than ever. And I have motherhood to thank for that.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik