Giving Birth: The Pleasure Principle

This was excerpted from the book, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, by Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer.

If you're like most women, you think of childbirth as a necessary experience of pain and exertion in order to get the end product -- the longed-for baby. But while birth is these things, a seldom-discussed fact is that it can also be a time of great pleasure. Biologically, women are designed to receive physical pleasure not only during lovemaking, but during birth and breastfeeding as well.

If childbirth is supposed to produce pleasure, why are so many women dissatisfied with their birth experiences? Standard hospital birth practices, from the shaving of your pubic hair to routine episiotomies, destroy much of this pleasure potential. Another reason is that we've not been taught that our reproductive functions - -all of them -- are designed to give us pleasure.

Sexually, women are not carbon copies of men. Our sexuality involves far more than just making love, important as that is. Part of it can be the increased sexual energy a woman can feel before menstruation, the relaxing spurt of milk from her breasts when her milk lets down, and the tug of her baby's rhythmic sucking on her nipple.

"It's a glorious experience. I know there are a lot of people who say, 'Oh, I hated being pregnant.' I felt exhilarated and really wonderful. ... My second birth was two days of labor, but not bad, not hard--it was easy."
Actress Demi Moore, Oprah Winfrey Show

Most sexual research concentrates on the study of intercourse. But while women's other sexual functions have been overlooked in comparison, enough research has been done to help us describe some of the similarities between sexual arousal and women's reproductive functions.

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