A documentary, dealing with a woman’s ‘orgasmic rushes’ during labour, is being screened all over the world, including several recent midwifery gatherings in Britain, writes VIV GROSKOP
AMBER HARTNELL did not intend to have an orgasmic birth – it just happened.
“I just got into this ecstatic state where I had these peaks of orgasm. There were these rolling waves coming through me where I was laughing and crying. I didn’t feel like I was having contractions. They were more like rushes. I did not actually experience pain, I experienced intense sensations.”
But Hartnell says this is definitely what happened during labour with her son Orus, now three and a half. She had a water birth at home over a 12-hour period and the “orgasmic rushes” kept coming from about two-thirds of the way through.
“It was the most overwhelming pleasure I have ever felt in my life,” Hartnell says. “It was like an energetic movement through me.”
An advocate of “ecstatic birth” – pleasurable, drug-free labour – May Gaskin once conducted a poll of 151 women in which 32 reported having at least one orgasmic birth
Why then do we feel so uncomfortable about the idea of women having an orgasm when they are actually giving birth?
“It crosses the margin of decency – which I think is wrong,” says Kitzinger.