Orgasmic birth — the myth, the legend, or the real life thing? There seems to be some heated debates over the reality of an orgasmic birth, with some women comparing them to unicorns, while others believe it could happen (or claim it has happened to them). If you’re wondering how the hell something as painful as childbirth could bring pleasure, you’re not alone. So, does orgasmic birth actually happen, or is it just something moms-to-be wish for to make childbirth a little more pleasant?
An orgasmic birth is exactly what it sounds like — having an orgasm (or apparently rolling, full-body orgasms) while you’re in labor and/or during the birth process — and it is very real.
How many women does this actually happen to? Dr. Sarah Winward, doula and founder of Your Downtown Doula in Toronto, tells Romper that as many as 20 percent of women may have orgasms during birth — though it’s more likely the case for women who have home births as opposed to delivering at a hospital.
How does it happen? Winward says oxytocin is released to help increase the intensity of contractions while your labor progresses, and your body’s natural defense for this is to secrete endorphins to help handle the pain. "These endorphins are the same ones that are released when you are experiencing sexual pleasure and provide a sense of euphoria," she says in an email interview. "Endorphins and oxytocin, combined with the contractions in the pelvic floor that happen during labor, can lead to an orgasm in some women."
Dr. Sara Twogood, OB-GYN and contributor to The Bump, tells Romper that another reason some women may have an orgasm during childbirth is that sometimes the baby’s head may stimulate the "G-spot" in the vagina during childbirth. "Another is the stretching of the external genitalia, thereby activating a clitoral response leading to an orgasm . . . however, women describe the orgasm as pleasurable, but not sexual," she says.
In a Cosmopolitan article that interviewed women who had orgasmic births, some of the women asked for (and received) help from their partners to have an orgasmic birth. One woman said her husband kissed her, touched her lightly, stimulated her nipples and her clitoris, while another, Woman A, said with each contraction she looked into her husband’s eyes and said, "I love you. I love you. I love you." Woman A told Cosmopolitan, "In my opinion, this produced large amounts of oxytocin that helped the labor progress, and kept me relaxed and connected, rather than stressed and in pain, and all that contributed to the orgasm." Woman B claimed in the article that she was aroused when she approached the transition, and she wished her midwives weren’t in the room so she could masturbate or be intimate with her husband.
When asked if it was hard to get aroused when they were in so much pain from labor, Woman B said it wasn’t difficult because, "The pain of labor is not what most people think of when they think of pain from an injury, for example, and when you are allowed to be fully relaxed and in the trance of birth, the waves of contractions are uncomfortable, but not like this horrible pain."
Obviously, intercourse is not recommended once your water breaks, since the baby could be too far down. But apparently for some women, labor can be a very pleasurable experience. While most women aren’t able to achieve an orgasm in a hospital — plus, who really wants to have an orgasm in front of their doctor and team of nurses — if you’re having a home birth, know you can take full advantage of this super intimate and miraculous situation your body is going through. Labor can be an intimate, personal, and pleasurable experience to share with your partner — and not in a sexual way.