This week, Elizabeth Davis – midwife, women’s health care specialist, educator, consultant and co-author of Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience answers your questions on sex during pregnancy.
The number one priority in preparing for birth is to understand the physiology of birth and to know in advance that wherever you will be the most physically and emotionally comfortable is where you should labor.
There is a powerful player in birth called oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone” because it is the hormone that we release with sexual activity. Even more, this is the hormone we release at the mere thought of sexual activity. Just thinking about a lover and becoming aroused, that’s oxytocin. New mothers, just hearing a baby cry – even if it’s not their own – will let down their milk, and that’s oxytocin.
Never in a woman’s life is oxytocin higher than in pregnancy and during labor, as well as the moments immediately after birth (when it’s at it’s all-time peak). Therefore if you think of birth as a sexual event, then you begin to understand how important the setting and the set of people around you really are. It’s not too far afield to say “imagine yourself having sex with a room full of strangers parading in and out of your room.” Could you change positions spontaneously? Could you move and groan and moan and do the things that are natural in birth if you’re being observed?
In fact, we have plenty of research that makes clear that if women feel observed by relative strangers in the room, even by the fetal monitor and not least of all themselves (“Am I doing all-right? Am I doing it right?”), her labor will be affected. Think of what that does to sexuality – all it takes is a few minutes of “Oh my god am I doing it right?” and the orgasm is shot.
Birth is very similar, women become frightened or over-analytical or anxious about their progress. They start releasing adrenaline and high levels of adrenaline stop oxytocin production and that turns the experience into a whole different event where there can be quite a lot of pain and anxiety, not a lot of oxygen to the baby, and we see a cascade of interventions that is leading all too often to cesarean births.
A renowned expert on women’s issues, Elizabeth Davis has been a midwife, women’s health care specialist, educator and consultant for over 30 years. She is internationally active in promoting motherbaby-centered birth and is widely sought after for her expertise in midwifery education and organizational development.
She served as a representative to the Midwives Alliance of North America for five years and as President of the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council for the United States. She holds a degree in Holistic Maternity Care from Antioch University, and is certified by the North American Registry of Midwives.
Her mission is to help women embrace an integrated view of birth, sexuality, family and ecology. She travels widely, lecturing and presenting workshops on women’s health, sexuality, intuition, and midwifery. She can design a workshop or keynote to meet your group’s needs–references on request.
This interview was originally filmed for Mindful Mama Magazine and has been transcribed with permission from Mindful Mama Magazine.