Birthing photographer Angela Gallo shares why she masturbated through her labour.
So convinced that all women should be doing this, the 30-year-old has written a very frank and revealing blog post on the subject.
It is not uncommon for women to orgasm during childbirth, having an orgasm during labour as a non-sexual form of pain relief is a taboo topic rarely spoken about.
‘Something I’m particularly passionate about is choices in childbirth,’ she said.
The birthing photographer, from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, said women in mainstream birth cultures were limited with their pain relief options – with an epidural, gas or nothing at all being the main choices.
Angela shares her incredible birthing story titled: ‘Why I touched myself in labour – here’s three reasons you should consider it, too!’
“Shut the front door – she said WHAT?!”
“Yes, you heard me right. And don’t be so shocked. Birth & Sex operate in almost the exact same ways. The hormones, sensations, the anatomy involved, brain activity, receptors…they are all so heavily intertwined. Our vulvas swell, blood flow is increased, we moan, sway our hips, deep breathing, sweat – we drop into a seriously sacred intimate space. Heck, women around the world are experiencing orgasmic childbirth. I wanted to make sure I had a piece of that pie!
And yet it still boggles people’s minds when I let them in on my (not-so dirty) little secret.
Birth brings out the animal in me; and it is a feeling I shamelessly indulge. It can only be described as a lioness coming out of her cave – sexy, strong, capable, warm.
My second baby’s birth was remarkably more empowering then my first. Firstly, I laboured in the comfort of our home, with the people I love most. Secondly, because of the privacy, support, and love I felt wrapped in, my surges felt COMPLETELY different. They were intense, yes. But the wildness of them felt…electric. Sensual. Powerful.
I remember one moment very vividly. As I neared transition (9-10 cm), I felt incredibly fragile, hopeless, and overwhelmed. (Transition can be such a fickle bitch!) Masturbation made the MOST sense to me as I laboured through my surges. I remember my husband saying, ‘Would you like to have sex?’ And although I couldn’t commit to sex in the moment, he must have read my mind!
Clitoral stimulation worked an absolute TREAT. It shifted my focus to my vagina, to the energy brewing within me. It made me feel connected, and made me feel like I had some control over what I was feeling. The surges were much more manageable, and the rest between them was so much more enjoyable. If I close my eyes now, I am taken back to that place. The hot water on my back, my husband’s hands locked in mine, the safety of his presence, the happiness as I rode those wild waves.
Orgasmic in a sexual way – no. Pleasure – YES. It was my glorious instinctual pain-relief system coming to life! I am so proud of myself for exploring an avenue so typically shamed.
For as far back as scientific, biblical, or medicine based text exist, birth has always been spoken about as something to ‘endure'; pain as punishment for eating the apple off that damn tree. To boot, many people feel very uncomfortable with the idea of pleasure in childbirth. And hey, I get it. For some, It’s a pretty big idea that takes us way out of our comfort zones.
Debra Pascali-Bonaro, pioneer and crusader for orgasmic birth, says, “It’s such a culture where some women actually feel shamed that they have pleasure, because the expectation is pain,” Pascali-Bonaro said. “We have to change that.”
The good news is if you’ve made it this far, you’re at the very least, intrigued. Here are a few enticing reasons to take the shame out of pleasure, and put the sex back into childbirth!
1. ‘What gets the baby in, gets the baby out!’
Oxytocin, baby. With a side of Endorphin and Adrenaline. (In all the right amounts, too!) Ina May was not kidding when she coined that term. Nipple, vaginal, clitoral stimulation, kissing, intimacy, affection; these all inspire the flow of our hormonal allies in birth. Experiencing a ‘stalled’ or lengthy labour? Need a natural pick me up? Touch yourself, mama! It gets the good stuff flowing.
2. Pain Relief
Ever had a headache, or been hung-over, or couldn’t sleep; and you instinctively decided on a mini-masturbation sesh? And then voila – headache magically gone? Well – many of us do it. And that’s because it works. So why would it be any different to using clitoral stimulation in during/between contractions? In 1988, a man by the name of Komisaruk published a study in the Journal of Sex Research, that explored the idea that when ‘women stimulated their vaginas or clitori, they became less sensitive to painful stimulation’.
‘Using rats, Komisaruk found that vaginal stimulation blocked the release of a pain transmitter called Substance P. In other words, the sensory neurons tasked with transmitting their message of “ouch!” to the central nervous system are stymied from the get-go.’
“It’s an actual physiological, very primordial system of the genital system blocking pain input,” Komisaruk said.
3. It feels good!
Mood boost, anyone? Want to feel more relaxed? You know that dopey, satisfied, tired feeling you can after an orgasm…that’s it right there. You may feel tense, anxious, stressed, unable to rest, mind racing – bring it back to basics with some deliciously luscious clitoral love.”
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