Friday, June 5, 2009

Orgasmic Birth

Yeah, that's right. I was incredulous too. Wednesday night I went to a screening of a film with that very title and while it might not have been the wisest idea to watch a birthing video twelve weeks postpartum, I was intrigued by the idea. I wouldn't have described any of my daughters' births as orgasmic by any stretch of the imagination yet I had heard such a thing was possible. I wanted to see if that was really the case.

Since my first pregnancy with Vivi, I've had an interest in birth and how it is regarded in our country. I read the usual suspects when it came to pregnancy books. Everything from What to Expect When You're Expecting (two enthusiastic thumbs down on that one... should be called How to Make You Into a Neurotic Mess When You're Expecting) to the inimitable Birthing From Within. As a childless woman, I feared birth and always imagined I would make the most of what western medicine offered me. Once I became pregnant, however, I wanted to test my body and birth in the way mother nature intended. (She's a mother after all...)

After Vivi's birth, I stopped reading the how-to pregnancy and birth books and started reading more sociological and political books about women's health. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy is a fascinating look at the evolution of how we birth. Marsden Wagner's Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First made me realize that our medical advancements can do more harm than good. And This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor by Susan Wicklund was a fascinating and sometimes shocking look at what it means to be an abortion provider in this country. All of these books reinforce the notion that we MUST be our own advocate for our own bodies.

Orgasmic Birth shows this advocacy in its purest form. It isn't really a film about women orgasming during birth although it did show this happening. (Wow!) It's about taking our power back and what it can mean when we give our bodies the opportunity to birth without intervention. Not every woman needs to make the choice to have a natural birth BUT there needs to be a choice. Too often women think they don't have an option outside an OB at the hospital because they've been made to believe that the pain will be too much to handle. Orgasmic Birth is the counterpoint to the epidural.

Vivi's birth felt like a transformation. The Turtles' birth was exactly how I envisioned it. Were they orgasmic? Hell, no! Where they exhausting, exhilarating, and empowering? Absolutely.


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