An Unfiltered Look at the Phenomenon of Orgasmic Birth

You've heard the myth about women who—intentionally or unintentionally—orgasm during labor. We talked to three who actually did.

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(Image credit: Archives)

How old are you? 

Woman A: Fifty-five.

Woman B: Thirty-three.

Woman C: Thirty-one.

How did you learn about orgasmic birth? 

Woman A: I read Laura Shanley's Birth Eroticism, Jeannine Parvati Baker's writing about ecstatic birth, and also the book Resexualising Childbirth by Leilah McCracken. 

Woman B: I discovered it through YouTube videos.

Woman C: I found out about it from researching unassisted childbirth. 

Did you have to do a lot of studying on how to orgasm during labor?

Woman A: No, I just read those things. There was not much written about the topic when I was pregnant in 2000.

Woman B: I didn't really study up on it but I had read a book called Orgasmic Birth, which is more so about the fact that birthing is a sexual and sensual process that should be treated as such, but it's not a how-to guide to having orgasms during your birth. 

Woman C: Oh, yes. I read tons of books.

Did you tell anyone you were going to have an orgasmic birth while you were still pregnant? What did your friends and family think about the idea?

Woman A: No, I didn't tell anyone that I was going to have an unassisted birth or that I was interested in using sex during labor. 

Woman B: I just knew it was a possibility but didn't view it as a goal to achieve. 

Woman C: I only shared the idea with my husband. 

What did your partner think about the idea?

Woman A:  I may have mentioned that I might want to be sexual in labor and my partner was happy.

Woman B: He thought it was lovely. 

Woman C: He thought it was a great idea. 

Where did you give birth?

Woman A: At home with only my family. 

Woman B: At home. 

Woman C: I gave birth at home in a water-filled tub. 

Did you use any pain medication at all?

Woman A: No. 

Woman B: No. 

Woman C: None. 

What is the process? Do you start with foreplay? 

Woman A: I used some self-stimulation to help with pain early on. 

Woman B: I didn't try to have an orgasm. As I approached the transition [birth], I did feel slightly aroused and remember thinking, 'I wish my midwives weren't there so that I could masturbate or be intimate with my husband.' But my orgasm was spontaneous.

Woman C: He touched me lightly, caressing, kissing, nipple stimulation, and there was also clitoral stimulation. 

Did you masturbate, or was your partner or anyone else involved in turning you on?

Woman A: The main way that I experienced orgasmic birth was by looking in my partner's eyes as I had each contraction and saying, "I love you, I love you, I love you," with each wave. In my opinion, this produced large amounts of oxytocin that helped the labor progress, and kept me relaxed and connected rather than stressed and in pain, and all that contributed to the orgasm. 

Woman B: No.

Woman C: My husband was involved in the process, using digital clitoral stimulation. 

Did you use sex toys or aids in any way?

Woman A: No. 

Woman B: No. 

Woman C: No. 

Was it hard to get aroused when you were in so much pain?

Woman A:  No, because of how I managed that pain.  

Woman B: No. The pain of labor is not what most people think of when they think of pain from an injury, for example, and when you are allowed to be fully relaxed and in the trance of birth, the waves of contraction are uncomfortable, but not like this horrible pain. 

Woman C: Not at all. 

Is there a certain point after which you can't have penetrative sex because the baby is too far down?

Woman A: I don't know, but I only had penetrative sex in the days and weeks leading right up to labor.

Woman B: Yes, definitely, but I did not have intercourse during labor. 

Woman C: Oh, yes. I don't recommend sex at all after the water breaks. 

At what point in your labor did you begin orgasming?

Woman A: My labor was very fast and intense and I had waves of orgasmic pleasure the whole time.

Woman B: I was experiencing a spontaneous full-body orgasm throughout the transition [birth]. 

Woman C: I started experiencing it after my eighth hour of labor.

How many orgasms did you end up having throughout the birth? Did they feel different than regular orgasms?

Woman A: I had one, but I did not notice physical pelvic floor contractions that happen with some types of orgasm. 

Woman B: I just had one, but yes it was very different than my usual orgasms. It was more of a very deep, full-body orgasm. I've also had a ton of those since the birth!

Woman C: I had four separate orgasms. 

Do you feel like it actually reduced your pain or was it more of a nice distraction?

Woman A: It was essential to my experience of labor: changing stress and pain to love and pleasure.

Woman B: Neither one. 

Woman C: Oh, yes, it greatly reduced the amount of pain. 

Was it weird having an orgasm in front of medical professionals?

Woman A: I was at home with my family, so I didn't. 

Woman B: Because I was at home and the only people present were my husband and two midwives, I felt very comfortable. I orgasmed mostly silently and told them that I did afterward. It felt very comfortable. I am convinced I would have never been able to have that level of relaxation to allow for an orgasm had I been in a hospital.

Woman C: I was at home, so that wasn't a problem.

Did you have trouble finding medical professionals who were experienced in orgasmic birth? 

Woman B: No, both my midwives were familiar with the concept. 

Woman C: I was planning a home water birth with an RN who was very familiar with the methods. 

Did you tell people you'd had an orgasmic birth when it happened? What were their responses?

Woman A: No. 

Woman B: I told a few close friends, who all thought it was wonderful. 

Woman C: I only told intimate friends whom I knew would consider my experiences sacred. It's nothing to brag about, it's just such an incredible experience. 

Have you had other children without using orgasmic birth?

Woman C: My first son, I had a spontaneous orgasm while I was in labor, but that didn't happen with my second son. 

What do you think the biggest misconceptions are about orgasmic birth?

Woman A: That there is only one type of orgasm that you can have. 

Woman B: Having sex during labor or masturbating to orgasm during labor isn't the same thing as the birthing process itself bringing pleasure and an orgasm. 

Woman C: That they are not real orgasms, when in fact they can be so much better than an orgasm. 

What advice would you give to other women who are considering orgasmic birth?

Woman A: Check out (opens in new tab), they have a film and some books. Also, the more private your situation is, the more you can use the hormones of sexuality to help you in labor. 

Woman B: Give birth at home in the most comfortable and relaxed environment possible, with as few people around as possible. 

Woman C: Be open to all possibilities and try to make it feel as natural as possible. Intimacy with oneself is amazing. 

Lane Moore
Lane Moore

Lane Moore is an award-winning comedian, actor, writer, and musician based in New York City. Her first book, How To Be Alone: If You Want To And Even If You Don’t became a #1 bestseller and was praised as one of the best books of the year by The New York TimesNew York Magazine, NPR, Good Morning AmericaFast CompanyMarie Claire, and many others. Moore also gave a TEDx Talk based on the book, called How To Be Alone. Her comedy show “Tinder Live!” is regarded as one of the best comedy shows in New York City and has been praised by The New York TimesEntertainment Tonight, CBS, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine. She has a monthly sold-out residency in NYC, and also tours rock venues and colleges worldwide. As an actor, Moore plays Kelsey on HBO’s Search Party, and has a recurring role on Rooster Teeth’s What Do You Know? and had a memorable role on season 5 of  HBO’s Girls. She also frequently appears on Comedy Central, VH1, MTV, truTV, and IFC shows. As a musician, Moore is the front person and songwriter in the band “It Was Romance.” In her time as the the Sex and Relationships Editor at Cosmopolitan, she won a GLAAD award for her groundbreaking work championing diverse, inclusive coverage. Moore also hosts the live streaming comedy show How To Be Alone on Twitch, which she calls “PeeWee’s Playhouse for lonely adults.”