Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Birth Climax
Today I wanted to write about the birth climax. I know- sounds weird, but it is a pretty common occurrence. There is a great movie on the subject called "Orgasmic Birth" if you are interested. I think I have a link for it, and it shows a variety of births in many different places and situations with women who experience the joy of birth.
For the few a birth climax is actually an almost orgasmic experience. This sounds strange, but, there are many similarities between birth and sex. Both involve the same body parts, hormones and both are greatly affected by where our mind is and if we feel safe and loved. More commonly though I think that many natural birth mothers do experience an incredible high at the birth of their baby. Pushing is a tremendous athletic effort and the climax of pushing really is the birth of the baby.
The ring of fire- more than a song-
No, I am not talking about the Johnny Cash story... Women who have experienced an unmedicated birth know that the ring of fire is an intense burning sensation as the baby crowns and emerges from your body. It is a little painful. There are some physical reasons why this could occur- mainly to tell you to lay off a bit on the pushing so that you don't push so hard you tear badly. I like to think there is another reason for it. That last little bit of pain is the last taste of bitter before the sweet arrival of your baby. Because it hurts, the birth of the baby is that much more of a relief, joy, or even a climax. Sometimes we get the bad so that we realize how good the sweet is.
I wanted to come of with some cool links for this- but most found really odd porn... Go figure. A sad reflection on our society because this is probably one of the best kept secrets of the modern world. For most women the birth climax is simply an overwhelming feeling of joy at the birth of your baby. The body itself releases a complex array of hormones and endorphins which both dull pain, alter memory, and make you feel good.
Some women actually experience something that looks like an orgasm, but I can't say I am one of them. I can speak to the amazing feeling that makes natural birth worth while. It is the addicting part, the part you actually remember forever (unlike any pain there may have been) and the reason some women just love to have babies.
Yes- there are women who love to have babies. When I was doing my childbirth educator training I met somebody who had had a very traumatic first birth, so much so that she didn't have another child for many years (like 12). But, after the birth of her second (with Bradley Classes- must give some credit here) she immediately asked her husband when they could have another one. And- she is not the only mom I have met like this! This is the part of birth that is so hard to explain to somebody who has never felt the baby be born. Does it hurt? Yes- but it is so incredible and it is so worth it. I just don't know if the end would be as shining if it were not for all the build up.
Of course I am obsessed with how birth prepares us for motherhood so how does this tie in? The birth climax, if experienced, helps you love your baby. Studies have shown that there are actual physical things causing this, but the feelings are what I can vouch for, not the science. Your body wants you to love and care for this baby. We survive because mothers love their children so much that they would do anything for them. They will experience childbirth for them, they will sacrifice their bodies, their shapes, their everything for these creatures.
Physically and emotionally, what happens at the birth of a child ensures that a mother loves that baby fiercely and immediately. This is why I am such a believer in natural childbirth and it is something that is so hard to put into words. It is an amazing experience that every woman deserves to have and enjoy. One of the greatest tragedies of our modern culture is that not only do women not experience this, they often do not want to, and most don't even realize that natural birth is amazing, powerful, and climactic.
I have not attended enough births to speak for all women, and there are certainly unmedicated mothers who prefer the epidural. However, in my experience, the vast majority much prefer an unmedicated birth- and I tend to believe, that those who didn't, did not experience an undisturbed birth. You can have a traumatic and unsupported unmedicated birth too.
Watch some birth videos. There is a marked difference in the reaction an unmedicated mother has to her baby and what a medicated mother has. How can we possibly say that this doesn't matter! An unmedicated mother is ecstatic at birth. Physically and hormonally, her body is different and so is the babies. They are perfectly suited to bonding with one another. Climactic birth is birth the way every woman deserves to experience it.
As I talk to women I am amazed at how many admit to not feeling bonded to their babies at birth. This is so common and rarely talked about but I believe (and there is research to support this) that the method of birth and the climate it is experienced in have a profound effect on the mothers ability and desire to love and care for her baby.
Do elective c-section mothers still love their babies? Of course. But research supports the idea that medicated and intervened with mothers have more trouble bonding and breastfeeding with their babies. Sadly, there is little being done in this area and it may be many years before we see the adolescent effect of many millions of pitocin induced, drugged births on our culture. Some researchers believe that this is incredibly damaging to us, our children and our society as a whole and our ability to love each other.
Nature makes us love our babies with an animals fierceness at birth. Science has interrupted this process in a way that is unmeasurable and and damaging. We must believe in birth and do it fearlessly and with power.
For a fantastic article on all the physical and hormonal things that occur at birth and their side effects, please read this article. It is informative and goes way beyond anything I could explain.