Giving Birth: The Pleasure Principle

Just as more sexual experience will enhance your physical capacity for sexual pleasure, pregnancy all by itself -- regardless of what kind of labor and birth you had -- will do the same. M.J. Sherfey, M.D. reports that in all women, as long as obstetric damage doesn't intervene, pregnancy brings an increase in the volume of blood flow in the pelvis, enhances the capacity for sexual tension, and improves orgasmic intensity, frequency, and pleasure.

The similarities between lovemaking and breastfeeding are also strong. During both, the uterus contracts, the nipples become erect, the breasts receive extensive stimulation, and the skin flushes. Soon after a baby is put to the breast, a letdown sensation brings the milk to the infant. While the hormone oxytocin is responsible for this milk-ejection reflex, nursing mothers don't usually have orgasms when their milk lets down, though some occasionally report they do. However, nearly all nursing moms describe a feeling of well-being. For a first-time mother, however, it may take a couple of months before she can recognize the letdown sensation.

It is common for breast milk to leak from a mother during lovemaking. Some mothers then worry that there won't be enough milk for the baby's next feeding -- but women find that there will be. While some couples find milk-filled breasts an added sexual pleasure, others don't. Of course, either reaction is normal.

By the time your baby is three months old, he typically will have been put to the breast more than seven hundred times. For many women, this frequent contact enhances the response of their erogenous zones, especially if they occasionally nurse the baby skin to skin, unclothed. Breastfeeding's enhancement of your sexuality, however, may not be noticeable until after you have weaned the baby.

-- Vulnerability. This increases both physically and psychologically during pregnancy and birth, just as it does during sex in a mix of risk and trust.

In pregnancy, it's likely you'll experience feelings from high spirits to low. Though you may be criticized for being "too emotional," these feelings are a necessary preparation for caregiving, because they make you feel more responsive to your baby and help you experience more pleasure in this role. As your pregnancy progresses, you look for calm reassurance and support from those who care for you as well. Many women, accustomed to managing their lives, are amazed by this need for support. Perhaps more than at any other time of your life, you now feel that you want someone to take care of you.

Need for Touching. Researchers stress that the sexual pleasure derived from childbirth requires a calm, nurturing environment. An optimal birth is more than careful and caring hospital procedures and loving supporters, however. It's understanding the need to be touched during labor.

Studies show that laboring women cope better with pain when there is constant support that includes touching. A laboring woman in pain might recover her equilibrium through a sympathetic hand on her arm, or a caress may blunt the stress of a contraction and give her new strength. Ensure that your vulnerability and need for touching will be met by loving supporters. Have not only your mate with you in labor, but a helping woman as well.

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