Ina May Gaskin is the most famous midwife in the United States. As one of of the founding members of the intentional community the Farm, Ina May and the Farm Midwives have thirty years of statistics that demonstrate the safety and benefits of natural childbirth. For example, only 1.4% of births attended by the Farm Midwives have required a Cesarean section compared to the national average of about 25%. Ina May has long been respected for advocating women’s rights, as well as changing people’s perceptions about natural childbirth. Instead of an agonizing ordeal, Ina May believes that childbirth can be an orgasmic experience.
When I first became pregnant 16 years ago, a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage, I read Ina May’s first book Spiritual Midwifery. Not only was this book full of information on natural pregnancy and childbirth, but it was packed with images and stories of labor, in which the parents saw psychedelic colors and experienced orgasms. I thought that these hippies had done too many drugs and were just having flashbacks, but by the time I read her second book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth before the birth of my second child, I decided to try out some of the visualizations described in the birth stories. As MSNBC explains,
She promoted the idea that a woman’s state of mind will influence how easy her birth is and encouraged unorthodox ways to improve the woman’s experience, like encouraging her to make out with her husband during labor.
Although I didn’t have quite the experience Ina May espouses, my son was born in a third of the time of my daughter. Instead of grimacing in pain as I did during my first labor, I visualized a flower opening as the hard contractions bore down upon me. Shortly after, my son was born in water into his daddy’s arms.
Ina May is working on a movie titled “The Orgasmic Birth”. As she describes,
A midwife’s work means something: It prepares the woman to go through childbirth in a way that’s transformative and empowering. The empowerment and self respect she learns in labor is passed on to the child in a loving relationship.
I highly recommend her books to anyone about to give birth. Even if you don’t experience an orgasm during labor, at least you will have a positive experience that will start your relationship off right with your child.
Image source: Crunchy Domestic Goddess
I first read Ina Mae’s book “Spiritual Midwifery” sixteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my second daughter. I had a beautiful home birth, and that book maade a world of difference in my being able to get what I wanted out of my birth experience. No, I did not have an orgasm, but I will never forget the experience. Thanks for the memories.
Heh. I had a homebirth with my second child, and would do it again in a heartbeat. But I won’t lie…it H.U.R.T. 🙂
I’ve heard stories about home deliveries, and they seemed lovely. But I have first-hand experience with severe pregnancy problems, as well as professional experience (as a nurse, not L&D). There’s also many post-partum complications to consider.
So, I would hope a woman would consider the possibility of complications and choose to deliver her *first* at a birthing center run by midwives, next to a hospital. Then if her first delivery went without complication, the next deliveries could be done at home with less concern. I’d also recommend using midwives that are also licensed nurses.
As far as the visualization thing, I would think that would help a lot, whether home birthed or in a hospital. One of our nursing instructors told us about doing a tour in a Russian birth center, and not one of the woman cried out, even during active delivery. She said her theory was that it’s our cultural mindset that determines how we tolerate pain. Also, fear ‘magnifies’ pain. I’ve seen both her ‘theories’ in non-pregnant patients, mostly post-op. So I can easily see how fear/anxiety would escalate pain during child birth.
as one who is a l/d nurse and just had her “first” at home, just wanted to let you know that my midwife took better postpartum care with me than I’d ever seen in 3 years of l&d. Fundal checks assessment. came to the home for visits for 2 months postpartum. You go right home after your birthing center births and can be discharged as early as 12 hours postpartum at a hospital. My state has strong homebirth laws and accredited LM’s who hold their own credentials and go to school only for L&D issues not generalized med surg. I feel safer at home with a hosp. with in 10 min. drive than in some establishment that has tons of people with tons of germs that I don’t know about.
Jennifer Lance says
I agree Britt, midwives give much better postpartum care. In fact, I just saw mine two days ago (6.5 years after my first was born!). I also understand the advice to have your first in a birthing center on some levels, but I also don’t think there are any guarantees. With my first, I did bleed and needed the expert care of my midwives. With my second, he needed the care of a doctor shortly after birth, but the midwives gave him the best possible care at birth. Prenatal care is key to any birth, whether at home or in a hospital. Like Britt, I felt safer at home, but I also feel blessed that both of my children were born safely in water without incident that would have made me regret this decision.
Thanks for posting about your midwives’ post-partum care. Either the people that I heard about left out the after care portions of their stories, or didn’t have as good as care. I’m going to check into whether my state has similar homebirth laws.
Lenka White says
I have 2 daughters and as the are very different from each other so were my birth experiences. The first one in the hospital with an epidural (I had “a back labor”) and the second one at home – a breech baby. I can speak only for myself, but I think the one at home was sooooo much better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t have an orgasm, but I saw “a lightning” in our bedroom and I have gone to the moon – as one of the midwifes in the movie “Business of being born” says. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. My hospital delivery was on the other hand quite a bad experience…..just to mention few things: doctor (Dr. Carlton, she used to be OB/GYN at the Corvallis Samaritan Hospital, now she is gone…I wonder why…)
was chewing gum !!!! during my delivery, she always did an internal exam during contraction despite me yelling at her to wait! She also didn’t pay any attention to what I wanted and talked about me in front of me as if I wasn’t there, she cut the cord before it stopped pulsating even after I told her clearly just before!!!!!!!The nurses were chatting about their lunch they were eating while watching me birthing and totally ignored my wishes to go away or at least be quiet…etc….my blood pressure is rising, so I will stop, but you can see, I have still long ways to come to peace with this experience.
So which one will you choose???
Kendra Holliday says
I LOVE the idea of incorporating sex into childbirth. It sure would be nice to make out with your partner while you’re in labor – and not feel the urge to bite his head off. 🙂
And I think every labor room should have a Hitachi Magic Wand in it. * Cue angel music * :
Jennifer Lance says
One technique my midwives and Ina May espouse is nipple play to stimulate contractions….much better than a shot of pitocin, but a little embarrassing in front of my mother!
I’m not sure I’d want an orgasm during childbirth.
I birthed my first, second, third, and sixth children at home. Home is WAY better! Last birthing did includeorgasmic experience while relaxing in birthing pool, a total surprise to me as it came out of the blue,unprovoked and unstimulated by anything other labor and relaxation.