Why birth and breastfeeding are part of female sexuality.
Coitus, pregnancy, labor, birth, and breastfeeding. What do all of these have in common? Obviously, they are all part of the reproductive life of a woman. But if we look deeper, we find out that what they most importantly have in common are HORMONES.
The patriarchal world we live in made us believe that our sexuality stops at SEX. Our biology is far more complex than that, and it is important to know how your body really works before labor. Once you find out how Mother Nature (or however you would like to call it) actually made us perfect and prepared our body for every stage, you will quickly understand why so many mothers that came before you had terrible (hospital) births and breastfeeding journeys that ended too soon.
First, let me paint you a picture. Imagine you are having sex with your partner. What would be the perfect setting? Intimacy is a given, low lights, nice music, smells, massage oils, and whatever works for you to feel the pleasure you need to enjoy the experience. When you imagine this, I hope you recall pleasant memories and sensations. All the things we need to be intimate allow the production of love hormones.
Now, what if I told you that labor and breastfeeding need exactly the same hormones? You might start to understand that a typical hospital setting is quite the opposite of this. Lots of people surrounding you, bright white lights, machines beeping, hospital smells. Let’s just say it is not an ideal setting to be intimate, and that is EXACTLY what you need once you’re in labor. We are mammals, and just like other mammals, we need to feel like we are in a safe space to give birth. We need love, connection, and most importantly no stress.
If stress hormones are released in your body, it enters freeze, flight, or fight mode, and it gives a signal to your brain that it is not a safe place to birth your baby. Usually, when this happens in a hospital, you get pressured to use synthetic oxytocin, which inhibits the natural production of endorphins. Therefore, making childbirth a thousand times more painful than it is naturally. If you don’t know this before going into a hospital, you will surely think you are not strong enough for labor, guilt-tripping yourself into an epidural. These are some steps in the intervention cascade, which I will explain in another blog post.
Am I saying to not give birth in a hospital? No, of course not. I am telling you to labor and give birth wherever you feel safe, and if that is a hospital, inform yourself about their policies. Ask them to not disturb you too much, if you may dim the lights, use essential oil and essentially not treat you like a patient. Being pregnant doesn’t make you sick, quite the contrary. You are blossoming into motherhood, and this should feel like the biggest celebration of your life. All the generations of women who have come before us have birthed their babies, and even understood the pleasure it creates.
At the culmination of a natural physiological birth, you will have the biggest oxytocin high of your life. No drug can imitate this effect. It is one of the greatest pleasures you can experience. Don’t let anyone get in the way or disturb this once-in-a-lifetime event. Surround yourself with a birthing team that vouches for your well-being, and the well-being of your baby. Anyone who really knows how birth works will know what you need.
“It’s every woman’s human right to have a pleasurable birth.”
Debra Pascali Bonaro – Founder, Orgasmic Birth
To finish this post, I will mention that how you labor and give birth, is directly related to how your breastfeeding journey will start. Remember, it is all hormones. Was your birthing experience lovely and peaceful? Or was it completely traumatic? This will influence your emotional state, which you share with your baby during the first few months. What sort of effect do you think this will have on your breastfeeding? You will maybe be more anxious and less self-assured. Having a good support team is obviously key, and getting a lactation counselor to guide you helps enormously. A big reminder that you don’t need help with producing enough milk, your body does that without a doubt, irrelevantly to how the birth was. You just might need help with technique, postures, latching, or just someone who will listen to your worries and assure you, you are doing great. And again, the same hormones are needed when you are having sex. Intimacy, the smell of your baby, nipple stimulation, and of course a safe feeling. This all helps with the production of prolactin, for milk production, and oxytocin, which is responsible for the ejection of your milk.
In my doula sessions, I usually go over some of the birth basics, and in my hypnobirthing course, we go over the complete physiology of birth and the important role of hormones. Don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.
I hope you come to realize that your entire reproductive journey is a sexual experience, which is meant to be pleasurable. Once that is accepted, you will know what you need to enjoy the ride.
PS: A big post about breastfeeding is coming so stay tuned.
Movie recommendation: Orgasmic birth. https://www.orgasmicbirth.com
Picture by https://lovebykristaevansphotography.com/