Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birth = Sexual Intimacy

The text below is a re-blog of an excellent post about how childbirth is related to sexual intimacy. Not understanding this often causes us to "get in our own way" when it comes to going into labor.

Getting in Our Own Way

by the midwife at Vita Mutari Blog

I am about to explain to you why a woman who is past her due date and feeling anxious to have her baby and is TRYING to have her baby….is actually less likely to go into labor.
There’s the bombshell…the concept that is new to a lot of people…so let’s explore this phenomenon.

We hear a lot of analogies when it comes to birth – it’s like a marathon, it’s climbing a mountain, it’s like intimacy, it’s like…..

The truth is, it’s unlike anything you’ve experienced. Try as you might, it isn’t something you can relate to until you’ve experienced it. To that end I say, “It’s like an orgasm…we can try to explain to you the physical response of an orgasm, but until you’ve experienced one you can’t truly understand.” Explaining labor/birth to someone who has never experienced it is like trying to explain the color blue to someone who was born blind.

HOWEVER – when it comes to the physical transformation that occurs, it is most related to sexual intimacy. Now wait…get back here…let me explain….


* It uses the same hormones: Prostaglandin, rich in semen….oxytocin, the hormone responsible for orgasm….yep, same hormonal cocktails during birth!
*  It uses the same parts of the body: how the baby gets in is how baby gets out.

*  It uses the same part of the brain: different parts of the brain offer their expertise to different functions of life….and the part of the brain that takes over during intimacy, the part that forgets about everything else in life, the part that no longer lets you care if your legs are shaven or if you are making sounds….it’s the same part of the brain that does those things in labor. You’ve heard of women talking about how they had no modesty during labor? Yup…that part of the brain! Men learn very early that their thoughts can have a huge effect on this part of the brain, slowing down its ability to function. Have you ever heard of a guy “doing math in his head” or “thinking baseball scores” in order to slow down and make the intimacy session last longer? That’s because he knows that the THINKING part of his brain competes with the part of the brain engaged during intimacy and can keep it from working well. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too…ever been intimate and gotten a phone call? Both parts of the brain can’t function at the same time…they compete! To function optimally so that you can achieve orgasm, you MUST allow that part of the brain to take over, you MUST feel safe and open and allow it to happen, you MUST release all control in order to become primal and in the moment…..
You will notice that the part of the body involved most with sex is the mind….that’s why I wrote so extensively about it above. People think of sex as a physical act and don’t stop to think about how much of it is mental. If it were mainly a physical act, then we couldn’t have sexual dreams that culminate in an orgasm – and we can, and do. Simply with THOUGHTS we can have such a huge physical response such as orgasm!!

Uh oh…I’m getting long-winded…I’ll try and reel it back.

So if I’ve been able to get you to truly understand and agree that yes, labor/birth requires a lot of the same functions of the body as sexual intimacy…..lets now explore the mother who is 40 weeks pregnant and “trying” to have her baby….and why that can actually be detrimental and keep her pregnant longer!

You wake up in the morning, snuggle in with your partner– and it becomes apparent to you that he wants more than just a quick kiss good morning. You glance at the clock and think, “Uh oh, I have 20 minutes before I have to get up and get ready for ________” (meeting? Appointment? Breakfast date with friends? School function? Doesn’t matter what)
Okay…so you want intimate relations with your husband…but you feel a time crunch. You began to physically respond, but a quick glance at the clock reveals you are down to 10 minutes. You will your body to respond…you do everything you can to “make it happen”….you can feel the time ticking away….come on, body, finish! You are doing all of the tricks that have worked before, your husband is doing everything right…but still the time is ticking away….COME ON BODY!

Ahhhhh……I can see that the wheels in your brain are spinning even without me explaining the analogy! Yes, the woman who is 40 weeks pregnant and who is walking miles each day, scrubbing floors, eating spicy foods, having sex…all with the express intent of causing labor to begin…is actually undermining her body’s ability to do it!! And boy, are we Americans good at getting into our own way (and I think a lot of it goes back to that dreaded “due date” – which is not an expiration date!!). We are so very good at over thinking this and mistrusting our bodies. Is it any wonder so many MANY women go into labor in the middle of the night, when we shut our brains off and our bodies can finally take a deep breath and say, “FINALLY….she is getting out of my way….phew!”

(until we wake up to a contraction, get excited, and interfere with our body’s ability to finish the job – BAH!)

I will even take the analogy further….a person NOT IN LABOR that is trying to go INTO labor is like a person sitting in a room alone, fully dressed, assuming different sexual positions in an attempt to cause her body to become aroused and close to orgasm. Over-thinking it, and without the assistance of a very important partner in this process! (did you know that it’s the BABY that initiates the delicate hormonal cascade that is labor and birth? That it’s not just YOUR BODY that is laboring, but that it’s communicating with the baby the entire time and that the baby is the initiator and the conductor of this symphony…)

Long-winded….apparently I don’t know how to be otherwise. Fine…let me sum up…

STOP TRYING TO HAVE YOUR BABY….trust your body, it’s done a good job for you so far…and just enjoy the anticipation rather than trying to control and rush the process. The best way to get yourself to go into labor is to stop trying to go into labor, release control, and just enjoy being in the moment. Jeez…why didn’t I say that in the first place??


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm an Australian Midwife and I am always trying to (without people running a mile) explain and teach this powerful concept. I had a beautiful intimate home birth and it is my greatest wish that more women are able to experience how magical birth can truly be.


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