Orgasmic birth on 20/20 this Friday

Update: The show has been pushed back. The new tentative air date is Jan. 2 now.

Just a quick note to let you all (but especially the birth junkies) know that ABC’s 20/20 is doing a segment on Orgasmic Birth this Friday, Dec. 12.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? OB-GYN Dr. Christiane Northrup, midwife Ina May Gaskin, and childbirth educator Debra Pascali-Bonaro all agree that under the right circumstances, i.e. when a woman is relaxed (and in my opinion very comfortable with her body), and due to the huge hormonal changes that occur in the body during labor, a kind of birth ecstasy is possible.

To learn more about the 20/20’s Orgasmic Birth, check out Labor Orgasms called ‘Best-Kept Secret’ – Moms, Experts Say Relaxation is Key to Pleasurable Childbirth. Then be sure to tune into 20/20 on Friday. I’ve already got my DVR set to record it.

What do you think? Is a segment on ecstatic birth “a bit too much information” as one woman on Twitter called it or, in a largely-medicalized, fear-based birthing society, just the kind of information women need?

Additional resources:
Orgasmic Birth, the film
Orgasmic Childbirth: The Fun Doesn’t End at Conception! by Laura Shanley
Pioneering midwife touts ‘orgasmic birth’ on MSNBC

Edited to add: I want to point out that it does not appear they are not saying all women will have an orgasm or that an orgasm should even be the goal. I think the point is moreso that birth can be a good experience.

For women who hope to create a similarly happy ending for their labor, Pascali-Bonaro hopes they realize that it’s possible, but the goal is not necessarily an actual orgasm.

“I hope women watching and men watching don’t feel that what we’re saying is, every woman should have an orgasmic birth,” she said. “Our message is that women can journey through labor and birth in all different ways. And there are a lot more options out there, to make this a positive and pleasurable experience.”

28 thoughts on “Orgasmic birth on 20/20 this Friday”

  1. While I consider myself to be a pretty modern and open minded woman, I think TV journalism is going in the wrong direction. On the topic of women and feeling good, shouldn’t we focus on improving self image, getting an education and pursuing our dreams rather than having orgasms during childbirth? I’m not a mother, but it seems that there is no greater high than bringing another person into the world. Must it really turn into a “sexual” experience?

  2. Delighted you ask, my Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

    Personally, I think it’s just the kind of information women need. Can’t think of any reason not to share that orgasm during the birthing process happens… and, not surprisingly, truly enhances the experience. 😉

    My only concern is that in our kind of ‘goofy’ cultural messages, some woman will be vulnerable to thinking they’re doing something ‘wrong’ if they DON’T have an orgasm.

    Which kind of defeats the whole message of…

    “Let’s relax and FEEL GOOD!” LOL

    –Mary K

    ¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
    ¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
    ((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-
    -:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* Light


  3. While I would never say a woman could or couldn’t experience an orgasmic birth, I kind of think it goes into the TMI category. If a woman has an orgasmic birth, great- but do we need a news story on it? Will they be doing stories on when a woman has a bowel movement during birth next?

    It seems like it could put another pressure or expectation on childbirth- now it is not only not supposed to hurt, but if we don’t have an orgasm we are missing out.

    I haven’t seen the segment though, so it should be interesting to see how they present it.

  4. I just edited the post to include a bit more info that might help clarify things a little bit…

    Edited to add: I want to point out that they are not saying all women will have an orgasm or that an orgasm should even be the goal. I think the point is more so that birth can be a good experience.

    For women who hope to create a similarly happy ending for their labor, Pascali-Bonaro hopes they realize that it’s possible, but the goal is not necessarily an actual orgasm.

    “I hope women watching and men watching don’t feel that what we’re saying is, every woman should have an orgasmic birth,” she said. “Our message is that women can journey through labor and birth in all different ways. And there are a lot more options out there, to make this a positive and pleasurable experience.”

  5. I think if that is how they present it, it sounds better than 20/20 doing a story that some can woman have orgasmic births-

    I think it is in all how they present it- hopefully it will be well presented that birth can be a positive experience, and not so much that women are now having orgasmic births, & you are missing out if you don’t have one.

  6. I wanted SOOOO BAD to have an orgasmic birth with my UC this past July. *sigh* What I got was a plain ol’ painful, two-hour labor, complete with transition and afterpains. Oh well… LOL

    What makes me happy about this whole “orgasmic childbirth” thing is that 1) it will open more women’s eyes to the benefits of home birth, and 2) it will, as you said, create the atmosphere that birth doesn’t necessarily have to be painful.

    I’ve seen the trailer, and frankly it makes me a little uncomfortable to be watching a woman orgasm, even if it is during the course of labor. But hey, if even one woman watches that and wants to home birth to have that kind of experience, I’m all for it.

  7. it’s not tmi for me, but then again, i’m pretty wide open anyway. i think it’s an interesting concept to cover – moreso the idea that birth can be relaxing than anything else. even though i did the bradley method, i still needed to focus all of my energy on relaxing – and my state of mind wouldn’t have allowed for an orgasm much less anything else, but i’m interested to see what the segment says.

  8. I think it’s great that birth is being portrayed as positive. When I learned that birth could be positive, I was very surprised. That’s why I UCed- the first positive birth experience I had heard about was UC, so I wanted that, and did that.

  9. Well, I had a pretty darn pleasant all natural birth experience both times.

    I hope that 20/20 does portray these orgasmic births positively, rather than making these mothers out to be perverted wackos. That’s just the kind of spin I expect from a major news media outlet. I hope I’m wrong!


  10. Wow, I totally thought that was a joke when they mentioned it on Californication. But, hey, what a great concept. Wish I’d heard of it before my two med-free births!

  11. Once again, shock journalism. Hate it.

    The thing is, women are so divided on the issues of birth and breastfeeding. Somehow, one side always is thought to be better than another, when the measure of a good birth is whether or not you get a healthy mom and baby out of the process. And the measure of a child’s nutrition is seen in their health and development.

    Whatever works for YOU is what’s right. So, you want to give birth in a tree, while biting on a handwoven hemp belt? Go for it. Want every wire and monitor hooked to you, go for it. Want a c-section with a tummy tuck attached and you can find a doctor willing to do it–sure, why not.

    I don’t have to agree with it. It’s YOUR body.

    I think it’s the superiority complex that gets people so turned off on trying to explore all their options. Not the options themselves, but the militancy with which some women go about spreading the word.

    So, put the word orgasm with birth. Sounds like a ratings plee to me. I remember when I was first training as a midwife and one of my mentors told me about the segment of the population that’s turned on by women in labor. Disgusting, but just as disgusting as this story.

    I won’t watch. No need to give them my eyes and ears. I suggest you do the same.

  12. WHOA! I saw your post on facebook and had to rush over to find out about this orgasmic experience. I find it very interesting… the whole notion.

    In my opinion this story and the goal of this type of birthing experience points back to the truly self-absorbed and selfish society that we live in. Seriously, birth is SO not (entirely) about the woman! It’s about the miracle inside that is forthcoming through gosh darn hard labor (speaking from a gal who went au natural).

    Will 20/20 have strong ratings from this show? Definitely, because we’re all intrigued– whether with disgust, hope, or interest in just plain strangeness. I might flip it on to see what the hype is all about.

    Birthing a child is euphoric enough! Who needs more drama on top of it?!

    Thanks for the post Amy…

  13. I personally think that this type of journalism is EXACTLY what the future mothers in our country need.

    The birthing process has become a taboo topic for most women. Why? Because we live in a country that feeds on negative, not positive and there is SO much positive waiting for a pregnant woman. You just don’t hear that side.

    And yes, where I think that titling this birth method “orgasmic birth” might be a cultural shock for some, it gets the attention of the current birthing generation and that’s all that matters in my book.

    I say watch the program, especially if you think it’s TMI for primetime.

  14. Thank you so much for this post, Crunchy Domestic Goddess! I personally am completely appalled at the way the US has come to treat birth as a medical procedure. And no, I am not deluded into thinking that birth is supposed to be an orgasmic experience for every woman – but it takes a lot of the fear of birth out of me to hear stories of women having positive, natural birthing experiences, and I feel it is something we all have a right to hear.
    Disgusting? I think not. I recently blogged about an amazing water birth documentary featuring women giving birth in the Black Sea; if you go to my website and look under “pregnancy & birth” you’ll find it. Thank you again for the lovely, eye opening post. I will definitely be watching the show, and I hope they do a good job!

  15. I’m sure it will be an interesting show to watch. It’s not gross and I’m very open-minded but but does the general population really need to hear about something as personal as this?

  16. This is exactly what we need – and that mom at twitter is the reason. Women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies and think birth is all about pain – I’m so sick of it (especially today for some reason). This is a huge step forward – WooHoo 20/20!!!

  17. I can’t say that I had an orgasm while giving birth. But after birthing Elle right into my hand, I felt so triumphant and organically happy that I would certainly call that feeling “orgasmic.” It all happened so fast and we’d waited so long for that little sweetheart. It was a definite rush and I was absolutely elated.

  18. We had a doula, midwife and a birth center. We did everything naturally. I labored in a hot tub with jets and gave birth without medication. I breast fed for two years and we used cloth diapers.

    We wouldn’t trade our birth experience for the hospital epidural route, but I’d never tell another woman it was orgasmic. If a woman can experience birth like that, more power to her. I think that’s perhaps a bit of luck and genetics. Just like some women have PMS and some don’t.

    I couldn’t have been more relaxed or focused, I sang my daughter into the world. But it was still incredibly painful. I said later it was like going 12 rounds with a prize fighter, and I had the bruised eyes and stitches to show for it! It was without doubt the most amazing experience of my life, so the pain and the stitches and the bruises…all of it was worth the wonder of lying in our bed with my new born daughter and my husband four hours after giving birth.

    What women should do, is be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly of pregnancy and birth. It’s not always easy and every birth is unique. We put far too much pressure on ourselves and each other. This is interesting information, and certainly worth discussing, but not if it’s another measure of guilt woman must bear. We all do our best. Birth should be a celebration, it’s a miracle that happens every moment of every day.


  19. just goes to show that there are many types of birthing experiences. personally, i was in a hospital, i got the epidural, and i had a great experience. no orgasms though… but the feeling of my flesh and bone being placed on my belly after he was born, of looking into his face and knowing that he was MINE… well, i’m quite satisfied with that!

    i do agree that it’s a bit tmi… i mean, i’m glad that someone has had that experience, but i’m not sure i need to know all of the details.

  20. While I think the term “orgasmic birth” is an obvious ode to getting big ratings, I DO think it is wonderful to start celebrating the birthing experience. Birth has become so “scientific” that we’ve lost a bit of the sacredness along the way. Sure, every women should have a birth experience that works for her, and at the same time, we need to be able to get back to the deep truths of what it means to go through the birthing process. To do that, there should be a little “wahooo, it is like the high in the universe” sharing going on when it comes to birth stories. I don’t hear folks complain about stories of c-sections or the million and one baby story shows I think are on the tv– why not have some women (and doctors!) stand up and say “if you are in touch with your body, if you trust the history and connection and purpose of your giving birth, then it can– and will– be an amazing (i.e. orgasmic) experience. If we had cable, I’d watch….

  21. PS– I notice you have a banner for the MAU 2009 handbook– I’m the red-head sitting with a friend and a boatload of our kidlets on the last week in March page! Rock on! 🙂

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