The Damn Good Reason Women Should Masturbate While Giving Birth

Photo: weheartit
Pregnant woman in a bathtub.

As a mother approaches her baby's due date, she's already lost any shyness she may have had. She's been poked and prodded, oftentimes with intimate parts of her body exposed. So being comfortable enough during labor to masturbate doesn't seem that impossible.

When Angela Gallo, a Melbourne-based doula and birth photographer wrote a blog post about how she pleasured herself while in labor, and people went crazy.

Everyone seemed to have some kind of reaction: shocked, appalled, incredulous, cheering, and everything in between, to the thought of bringing sexuality into childbirth.

Gallo was grateful to be able to deliver her baby on her own terms.

"In my first birth, I didn't understand my body on a physiological level, and that's where I really sabotaged myself," she said in an interview with Vice.

For the birth of her second child, she planned to do most of the laboring at home with the help of her husband and doula.

"As I neared transition, near the end of labor, I was feeling very vulnerable and stressed-out. I went into the shower to find some relief, and my husband asked if I would like to have sex. I said no, but it reminded me I could self-stimulate," Gallo said. "The second I started using clitoral stimulation, the resting period between contractions was more pleasurable and I could use more force to meet the climax of contractions."

The sensation helped to take the edge off of the pain. 

Masturbation can be used as a pain reliever and can help you relax, so it makes sense that it would be a handy tool to use in childbirth. In fact, there are women who use sexual stimulation to ease contractions, instead of anesthesia.

The documentary Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret, and the subsequent book, Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience, explain how an orgasmic birth can entail having a birthgasm, or an orgasm that happens during childbirth. Both explain how it can make an experience that can be painful and exhausting, into one that's pleasurable.

"I had sex and self-stimulated in labor, and I orgasmed," said Laura Kaplan Shanley, author of Unassisted Childbirth. "As we free ourselves from the shame surrounding birth and embrace our sexuality, our births go better and are safer."

"The hormones in birth and sex are identical," says Kate Dimpfl in her TEDTalk, We Must Put The Sex Back into Birth. "Oxytocin is released during sexual arousal and orgasm, but also during childbirth, skin-to-skin contact with a newborn, and breastfeeding. With oxytocin comes a rise of endorphins, which can naturally reduce pain."

But masturbating during childbirth has been around long before Gallo broke the Internet. American feminist author and sexpert, Susie Bright, wrote about masturbating during labor in her piece, "Egg Sex" (it can also be found in her book, Susie Bright's Sexual Reality).

Bright writes, "I believed that stimulating my clit would be a nice counterpoint to the contractions going on inside of my belly. I have a great photograph of me in the delivery room, dilated to six centimeters, with a blissful look on my face and my vibrator nestled against my pubic bone. I had no thought of climaxing, but the pleasure of the rhythm on my clit was like sweet icing on top of the deep, thick contractions in my womb."

All photos: Angela Gallo

Masturbating during childbirth may not appeal to everyone, but for some women it's a viable way to make giving birth more enjoyable, safe, and natural.

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