Now, before you get your westernized, sexually repressed hackles up; saying toy yourself, “orgasmic birth? That’s rediculous! Childbirth is agony! It is the hardest, most miserable time in a woman’s life! It is, after all, the damnation by God upon Eve in the garden of Eden–a fate suffered by all women thereafter…” …just HOLD ON!
Last night, I viewed this film with a group of my doula/childbirth educator friends. With a running commentary throughout the film, and a healthy analysis afterward (we even had one member present who is almost 39weeks pregnant herself, and VERY encouraged by the film’s message) we came to the conclusion, we would have rather seen the film makers go with their initially-intended title: Ecstatic Birth. Because that’s what it was really all about. But aside from that little critique, we thought the film was RIGHT ONE!
Sure, there are a couple scenes in the movie showing laboring women experience tride-and-true rolling orgasms while in the midst of labor contractions…but mostly, the film (much like The Business of Being Born) is about the joy, self awareness and empowerment that women have the potential to experience in birth when largely left alone.
You see, our culture has collectively undergone one big, massive, brainwashing that has lasted the better part of 200 years. As women, we have been convinced that pregnancy, labor and childbirth are an illness from which we must be saved. We have been told we can’t birth without the significant monkeying around of someone else. The truth, in fact (as pointed out by Christiane Northup, MD) is that only 10% of laboring women come up against a TRUE medical emergency or medical condition that requires intervention. The remainder of women and babies undergoing childbirth are perfectly fine and healthy…requiring absolutely NO intervention whatsoever.
Did you know the World Health Organization studied c-sections extensively and discovered that the world c-section rate ought to be no more than 10-15%? And that, any rate beyond that leads to increased mother/baby injury and/or death, with no more babies “saved”? That makes our country’s rate of 33% look despicable!
And here’s the big secret that the film aims at: childbirth actually CAN be enjoyable (in a totally and completely challenging way) if a woman makes the decision to embrace the process, allow the contractions (rather than fighting them) have faith in their body (mental anxiety has HUGELY negative affects on a laboring woman’s progress…especially if that woman has a history of significant emotional trauma or sexual abuse).
One of the many talking heads interviewed for the movie (many of whom are also featured in The Business of Being Born) makes this final point:
If you had the opportunity to witness your full potential, to learn of the highest mountain you have the capability to scale, to permanently empower yourself for any future challenge, wouldn’t you accept that opportunity? Because that is exactly what achieving normal (“natural”) childbirth does for a woman: it taps into the incredible strength, resiliency, power and endurance she contains….levels of which she has likely NEVER experienced in herself before…and shows her that, “if she could make it through that level of challenge and difficulty…she truly possesses the ability to make it through any future challenge she will face.
But here’s the other truth pointed out in the film: women who don’t or can’t experience normal childbirth…women who are forced through the obstacle course of labor inductions,constant fetal monitoring…women who are numbed from the waist down with intrathecals and epidurals…women who are operated on to birth their babies…they lose out on a potentially life-altering experience of the magnitude I described above. But they can also emerge from the experience empowered and fulfilled: if they remain integrally involved in every decision making process and their baby’s birth unfolds. While I DO think completely normal, complication-free birth is the Cadillac of birth experiences, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an all or none experience. But you have to work a hell of a lot harder to experience ecstasy while hooked up to tubes and wires when birthing your baby!
Now, for those of you reading this who abhor the idea of “natural childbirth” (I don’t personally like that term, for all the politicalization that’s happened to it), who have delivered a child under the use of many medical interventions and still have wonderful memories of their babies’ births…I DO NOT discount your experiences!
Of our three children’s births, only one was a normal birth experience for me and the baby. I have never birthed at home or in a birth center. I did not deliver our one “natural birth” baby under a tree in our back yard…but what I CAN tell you is that, all that stuff about empowerment, self-strength, and self-awareness only became obvious to me AFTER the delivery of our third child…with whom I avoided medical interventions.
Being in the position of comparing childbirth under the influence of an epidural…two labor inductions…strapped permanently to a fetal monitor (and to a bed…flat on my back)…mentally numbed by narcotics…internal fetal monitor screwed into my baby’s scalp and protruding from my body…with the experience of laboring outside in the sun, getting in and out of a bath tub, being massaged by our doula and my husband, pushing when I wanted and resting when I wanted, avoiding even so much as an IV because I took it upon myself to stay hydrated by drinking water and juices…I can truly, honestly and without hesitation tell you: the message in Orgasmic Birth is real. Yes, I too would prefer to have seen the film named Ecstatic Birth which I think would be relatable (and less off-putting) for more women but…regardless of the title, the message is right on.
I challenge you to view the movie with an OPEN MIND and share your ideas about it with others.