When women see the words “orgasm” and “birth” in the same sentence, red flags fly. Pain, fear, hospitals, sweat, and several other less-than-desirable words are more commonly associated with birth, but Huffington Post reports that one French study reveals a small portion of women actually experience a sensation similar toorgasm when in labor, and some even come to full climax!
The study enlisted the help of 106 midwives who were asked to complete a short survey. The survey inquired about any orgasmic experiences they had witnessed in women whom they had assisted during birth. Surprisingly, the midwives reported 668 instances in which the women they were assisting reported feeling orgasmic sensations, and still another 868 women had demonstrated signs of pleasure.
"There are so many factors that could make the difference between a pleasurable response and a terribly stressful, aversive experience that you can't generalize it," Barry Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey who studies orgasm, told LiveScience. "There's no reason to try to generalize. Different people have different pain thresholds. Different people have different attitudes. If a woman has a fear of sexuality, if she starts having a pleasurable sensation she may feel this is completely inappropriate psychologically, and that itself could be an aversive effect."
For all of you women out there — mothers, soon-to-be-mothers, or otherwise — this basically means that the orgasmic birth isn’t a standard, it just sometimes happens. It really depends on the person and the situation. For example, if a woman has been on bed rest in the hospital for the past few weeks with her movements restricted and it’s finally time to push when the doc says the baby is facing the wrong direction, the following birth experience is less likely to involve a euphoric or orgasmic feeling than someone giving birth at home in the bathtub while her significant other massages her shoulders.
"It's such a culture where some women actually feel shamed that they have pleasure, because the expectation is pain," said Debra Pascali-Bonaro, director of Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret. "We have to change that."
So don’t think of this as the new standard, because heaven knows women don’t need any more stress around their birth than there already is, but if you think you feel something good, just go with it! In fact, Pascali-Bonaro says some women use nipple and clitoral stimulation to calm themselves during labor, some even bringing a vibrator. Hey, whatever works!