Lots of things in life have been described as orgasmic: sex (obviously), food, dreams, childbirth. Wait…orgasmic childbirth? You didn’t read that wrong.
Orgasmic childbirth—a.k.a. a birth-gasm—is when a woman has an orgasm while she’s in labor. And even though it’s a relatively rare phenomenon (one study suggests it occurs in just 0.3 percent of women), it’s a legit possible one.
“Stimulation of the pelvic musculature and nerves during labor can cause a spontaneous orgasm,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. “I always reassure my patients, hey, that’s okay.”
Just okay, you ask? Well, maybe pretty great: Having an orgasm during labor doesn’t cause any harm to the mom or the baby in any way, says Dr. Minkin. Really, experiencing the big O is just another set of contractions—albeit enjoyable ones.
How well do you know your orgasm? These truths will blow your mind:
As long as the baby is tolerating the labor in general, there’s no need to worry. “It’s a little extra bonus for the mom,” Minkin says. “It shouldn’t be hazardous or compromise blood flow.”
Sooo…should I make myself have an orgasmic birth?
Apparently, women do—or at least, they try. In the book Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience from 2010—which some experts believe first alerted women to this idea—authors Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro talk about how childbirth should be an empowering, satisfying experience for women.
Labor should be an intense, ecstatic few hours, they say. That’s a far different cry from the stressful, painful, “epidural, please!” experience that most women have come to know.
Some women might choose to force an orgasmic birth by masturbating or having sex when they’re in labor. For one, doing so can make childbirth a significantly more pleasurable moment, the authors argue. It can also add a whole ‘nother layer of intimacy, especially if their partner is involved.
Others might be craving a welcome distraction from the, uh, discomfort of childbirth. Research shows an orgasm does have an analgesic effect, and one 2015 study concluded that birth-gasms specifically are an overlooked “means of pain relief in childbirth.”
Plus, there’s a **small chance** that getting off during labor could move the actual delivery along, though don’t expect a miracle. (It probably won’t help that much, Minkin says.)
Sold! But how do I have an orgasmic birth?
If having an orgasmic birth sounds appealing to you, you may want to consider having an at-home delivery.
Why? Intentional orgasmic births typically require masturbating or having sex. (Some women might be able to O from their thoughts alone, but that’s…the minority.) And it goes without saying that in a hospital, privacy—not to mention, a seductive setting—is hard to come by.
But in either scenario, if you’re going to go for it, for safety reasons, do so before your water has broken.
After that point, introducing a toy, your finger, or, ya know, your partner’s genitals to your vagina could increase your risk of infection, Minkin says. Which is the last thing you want when you’re about to bring a baby into the world.
P.S. You won’t be able to knowingly orgasm once you’ve had an epidural (since an orgasm requires down-there stimulation/feeling and an epidural involves numbing that entire area).
Minkin also notes that there’s little scientific research on birth-gasms in general, so if you’re looking for a surefire (read: proven) way to have a fireworks finish mid-labor, you won’t find it here. Then again, achieving orgasm is a highly personal process that varies from woman to woman, anyway.
Bottom line: A birth-gasm, or really anything that makes childbirth more pleasurable, intimate, and well, downright fun—and not at all riskier—may be worth considering.
And if you achieve it, please let every expecting mother out there know how. In the name of science, obviously.
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