- Renée Rodríguez had two births she described as “orgasmic.”
- She said that her husband helped her orgasm during labor and that she felt little to no pain.
- A doula trainer says that even people who don’t orgasm during birth can have a euphoric experience.
Renée Rodríguez was eight months pregnant with her first son when she heard about the concept of an orgasmic birth. Rodríguez, who lives in Cancún, Mexico, said she’d never considered that birth could be a pleasant experience, let alone “orgasmic” — and though she didn’t know whether it would work for her, she wanted to try.
There is little scientific research on orgasms while giving birth. A 2013 study suggested that orgasms might occur about 0.3% of the time in vaginal births and that the experience was well known among midwives.
Debra Pascali-Bonaro, a childbirth educator, doula trainer, and director of the documentary “Orgasmic Birth,” told Insider that hospitals, where about 98% of births in the US happen, are not conducive to the intimacy and pleasure that reaching orgasm typically requires.
A pregnant person also has to be open to the experience, she said, adding that many people might not report their experience or may feel too much shame during birth to let themselves orgasm.
Pascali-Bonaro said that she considers orgasmic births to be more conceptual than literal and that they can occur during a birth experience without a person actually orgasming — though she’s had many clients who have. She said that rather than using the term to refer to “a birth that includes an orgasm,” she uses it to talk about a euphoric experience during childbirth, with the intention of shifting the language around birth away from fear and toward joy and connection.
Rodríguez had 2 orgasmic births
Rodríguez, who works as a doula in Cancún, said she experienced the kind of orgasmic birth that Pascali-Bonaro referred to, which Rodríguez described as “intense, orgasmic states of mind.” She added that while giving birth she also experienced sexual orgasms.
She said that while she hadn’t been sure during her first pregnancy whether an orgasmic birth was possible for her, she was blown away by the experience. She described it as both pleasurable and painless, and she said she believes that anyone who gives birth can experience something similar. She said her doctor was the first person to make her feel like it was a possibility for her and encouraged her to have a home birth.
Rodríguez said that the night before she gave birth, she had an intense orgasm during sex that seemed to last through the night. “I remember while I was sleeping I was waking up and still feeling like my uterus contracting, like in an orgasm,” she said. “But I was wondering, is this the labor or the orgasm?”
The next morning her water broke. But — with the approval of her doctor, because she wasn’t experiencing contractions or in labor yet— she went about her day, logging off from work early and going for a walk in the park.
After dinner that night, she said, she asked her husband to help her orgasm with his hands, which brought on contractions. “The contractions were just this beautiful intensity. I never felt pain,” she said. “Feeling my body doing it by itself was just beautiful.”
She called her doula and her doctor and got in her bathtub, closing her eyes for a few hours in a half-asleep state. By the time her doula and her doctor arrived, she was fully dilated. She said her doctor recommended kissing her husband in order to release the hormone oxytocin and help facilitate the birth.
Rodríguez said this worked and that while squatting next to her husband she felt her body begin to push on its own. She said that when she reached down to feel her son’s head and his hair, “that gave me, again, a rush of oxytocin.”
“It was amazing to know that he was almost there,” she added.
Then her husband caught her baby. She said the peak of the orgasmic feeling came when she held her son for the first time.
Studies help explain what she was feeling in this moment: Skin-to-skin contact has been found to help release oxytocin for a new parent and their newborn.
Rodríguez said that while her second birth was in some ways more stressful, she had a similar experience. She said she gave birth at home again and went into what she called an almost “psychedelic” state during the labor.
She said she also has a new perspective on the orgasms she has during sex, which she described as even better and more fulfilling now than they were before.
Understanding the close relationship between birth and sexuality
Pascali-Bonaro said Rodríguez’s experience is similar to the experiences of many clients she’s had. Oxytocin is released during both orgasm and birth, and the uterus contracts during both experiences. She said that often the most comfortable position people giving birth can get into is leaning over on their knees, which can allow the baby to hit pleasure centers like the G-spot.
“If you think about that clitoral complex in the front, as the head comes down, it’s going to put more pressure in a forward position,” she said. “And the clitoral complex is designed to bring lubrication, to bring swelling, which would actually ease birth.”
Often, she said, these sensations can make the birth easier and less painful and don’t have to result in an orgasm.
In an ideal world, Pascali-Bonaro said, doctors and hospitals would serve as “lifeguards” for most pregnancies, assisting when medical help is required. For now, she said she hopes that home births can become more widespread for low-risk pregnancies and that labor rooms can be designed as more comfortable, intimate spaces for people who may need additional medical assistance.