Birth is a sexual experience. Maybe you’ve never heard it described as that, but it’s true. The same hormones are involved, the same anatomical parts. In either situation, a certain environment and mindset is necessary to allow the people involved to feel safe and confident.
There’s a pretty funny video going around that highlights this, and it’s got me thinking: Why don’t we consider birth to be a natural part of our sexual self? It seems like we’ve categorized it as more of a medical emergency, rather than seeing it as it really is: an organic expression of ourselves as we bring forth new life.
Who we are as individuals manifests itself during labor. We are cut off from the “thinking” part of our brain (the cerebrum), and our primal self takes over. We move spontaneously and intuitively, just like when we make love. If you were to listen to a woman in labor, you might have a hard time deciding if she’s birthing a baby or having an intimate moment with someone she cares about. I’m not talking about the movies here, but a real birthing woman.
Here is a beautiful video that demonstrates exactly what I’m talking about.
Not every labor is like this, but every labor is a part of a woman’s sexual journey. We have this huge experience and come out of it a new person, with a new identity.
Some experience labor as very sensual, wanting to touch and be touched in ways that calm them and provide security and tenderness. Others manage better by moving, sometimes boldly, in a kind of tribal-like dance. They like to get into their own zone and physically move in tune with the power of their body.
I especially like this video of a woman dancing through her contractions. Sometimes it’s hard to tell she’s even in labor. She’s going with the flow of the work her body is doing, and giving all the birthing energy an external release.
It’s another manifestation of the sensual nature of labor. She’s loving herself as she is in that moment, which is helping her set the tone for bringing her baby into the world.
Notice how in both videos the lights are down low, the people around the birthing woman are completely focused on her and going with the rhythm of her labor. They aren’t trying to dictate how she behaves, they simply let her enact her own ritual. They honor the unique way she lets her body express itself. And in both videos, the women have clearly found their rhythm.
There are terms we can use to describe both ways of coping with labor sensations: active and passive relaxation. Both active relaxation (rhythmic movement) and passive relaxation (stillness and release) are beneficial in labor, it just depends on what works for you in the moment. Some women use only one, others move fluidly from one to the other. There is no right way to labor, but if you have a calm, peaceful environment and a supportive birth team, you will find the rhythm that is right for you.