Jane Hardwicke Collings. Southern Spring 2010
During a recent Pregnancy – The Inner Journey workshop, during our discussions on the sexuality of pregnancy and birth, we explored the concept of orgasm as teacher.
A woman needs to surrender in labour and birth for the ‘birth force’ to flow through her. When she does, she is physically relaxed and open and the process happens physiologically, simply, with the least pain and as uncomplicated as possible in that particular situation. It is widely believed that ‘prolonged’ labour is associated with ‘issues’ the mother may have that she needs to be with, to let go of, and enable her to surrender. This is not an indicator of any degree of lack of self awareness the mother has, but rather it is a ‘gift’ of labour and birth, this time. And it enables the mother to know herself more fully, to facilitate her life journey, her soul’s path to wholeness, the be the mother this baby has come for.
So, orgasm as teacher – the surrender a woman needs to do in labour and birth is the same surrender she needs to do to orgasm. We all know the likely scenario of approaching orgasm and losing it when our mind cuts in with something or other. This might be an internal conversation, a self judgment or any manner of thoughts. Likewise in labour the same mental activity will interfere with the flow of labour. A labouring woman needs to stay focused, and not be distracted from the crescendo building in her that will ultimately lead to the climax of birth. Orgasm teaches us that focus, which is ultimately ‘presence’. Presence to what your body is feeling and ‘telling’ you to do, not thinking or fearing or relating to anyone.
I always suggest that women practice in their love making to be more and more familiar with the process of orgasm, to familiarize themselves with the pathway and the experience of surrender. And then during this particular Pregnancy – The Inner Journey workshop, the brilliant Melinda, mother of four, doula, naturopath and student of the School of Shamanic Midwifery, brought forth an insight into the moments just before orgasm. With her new baby girl’s birth fresh in her mind and body she related her experience of the relationship between orgasm and childbirth, and what there was to learn about the pre-orgasmic state that could help prepare for childbirth.
Consciously connecting with my own inner territory of sexual arousal and orgasm during my last pregnancy provided me with such valuable insight into how our sexual experiences can mirror our birthing ones and how through an intimate relationship with orgasm we can learn to ‘map’ our own unique journey towards surrender, as excellent preparation for labour and birth.
The more familiar I became with the terrain of my own orgasmic experience, the more intimately I came to know the critical places along the journey that were the deciders of whether I would meet the surrender of orgasm or the energy would falter and I would miss the climax. The more practiced I became at achieving orgasm readily and with ease, the more quickly I came to be able to decipher the signposts along the way and map out where the green lights existed and learn why the red lights arose when they did. Green lights were aplenty when I was feeling safe, relaxed and uninhibited, Red lights were numerous when I was tired, stressed or stuck in my head.
The most potent and pivotal place for consideration on the journey were the seconds just prior to orgasm, when I could feel the energy building steadily in my body and knew the release of climax was imminent if I was able to maintain my presence and remain open to the unfolding process. It was here that I gathered the most valuable insights about myself and my own unique relationship with surrender. In this place I had the opportunity to observe firsthand what the ‘perfect’ conditions were for me to feel as safe, open and surrendered as I could possibly be. It was empowering to later be able to take this information back to my preparation for birth and apply it to the way I was making my nest in readiness for labour to commence.
Useful questions that arose for me through this process were:
What does my perfect birth space look, feel, smell and sound like?
Who do I feel safe to have as my companions at this intimate time?
In what context do I need my partner to participate?
What role does my voice / sound / song play in my experience of opening?
What positions best facilitate a sense of comfort and pleasure?
Reflecting on the previous homebirths of my 3 older children, I could clearly see how my sexual expression during these pregnancies had played out during the labours and births that had followed. As I had grown in my sexual unfolding as a woman between each birth, my relationship with the space of Transition had transformed from one of fear and overwhelm to a place of ecstatic spiritual communion with my baby and the universe at large. Embracing the pre-orgasmic space as a gateway to higher planes of pleasure and consciousness had taught me that surrendering to the flow of energy through my body was not only safe and could be trusted, it was also an opportunity to meet my own Divinity.
Carrying this learning into my 4th pregnancy, I prepared for my baby’s birth as a Vision Quest – a spiritual journey of focused intention and seeking for deeper purpose and direction in my life, both as a mother and a woman. After a swift and sweet labour journeyed mostly in solitude, I met the space of Transition as practiced in orgasm – with absolute trust and surrender. A powerful song called through me as my precious daughter slipped effortlessly into the world in a glorious, peaceful waterbirth at home surrounded only by the love of her family. At the moment of her birth I was gifted with a potent vision of myself suspended between the worlds – in full mastery to the awesome experience of surrender, with the entire Universe flowing through my Being. It was the most powerful moment of my life.
This level of attention and the related birth potential is what is possible if and when we reclaim the sacred space of birth, the sexuality of birth. When we treat the birthing mother as the Goddess and her chosen birth place as the Temple, then we can best help her feel safe enough, and honoured, enabling her to surrender in trust and faith in the process that will bring forth her baby.
Many women share during the workshops that their partners feel unsure of whether they will really be able to help them in labour, what will I do? they ask, how will I know? When they get the picture that birth is a sexual experience and that transition, the time when the woman needs the most help, is related to the time just before orgasm, they relax, they know what helps at that point, they know they can be there with her.
Glenys, planning a VBAC, at a recent Pregnancy Workshop, reported the relief her husband felt in understanding the sexuality of birth and seeing the connection between labour and birth and making love.
“Because our first labour ended up a caesarean, Sandy came away not really knowing if anything he did helped or didn’t help, and now planning to have a VBAC he’s been worrying that he won’t know how to help me.
He found making love a great analogy for birth because it was something he could understand.”
“Making love works because you’re in a partnership – you read your partner’s cues and respond to them. Your partner knows what they need and the minute you start imposing your will on them, it stops working.” he said. Thinking like this, Sandy felt prepared to be able to help Glenys. They are excitedly awaiting their pending birth.
My own experience giving birth to my third baby 18 years ago also speaks to this concept. Our plan had been for Paul, my husband, to catch the baby and as I felt our baby coming down preparing to be born, I said to Paul who was holding me from behind, “you’d better get around the front if you want to catch the baby”. This of course would have ‘broken the spell’ that I was completely immersed in, taken me out of ‘the zone’, my altered state of consciousness. He helped me stay completely focused on our baby coming through me by simply staying with what was happening, what was working, as he does in our love making (blush!). And I birthed Jackson into my own hands.
Kristan was able to understand her first birth when she saw the connection between her experience of birth and her experience of orgasm.
“Just at the point of orgasm, when the mountain had been climbed, I would ‘check out’ and think – I’ll wait a little longer – and then it would pass, no orgasm and I could not get it back. And so when my son was on his way, at the point of birth, just at the moment of the last contraction, the moment of the final climax and release, he got a little stuck, or one could say the process stopped, a familiar experience for me! Once I uncovered this and shared this with my husband, I practiced letting go during our love making. When the orgasm was there to have, I had it, I didn’t try to make it go longer or even think about it, I just stayed with the process as it was unfolding. Got it!
My second son was born with my husband supporting me, and at the moment when I would have checked out and not let go, he started OMing, helping me stay with the process and I had an ecstatic, orgasmic birth – evidence!
“What gets the baby in there gets the baby out”.
The brain waves a woman creates during making love are like what will be created in labour, this will give her a familiar example of the influence on the process of the beta brain waves of an active mind.
During sex, surrender starts way back, before the building to orgasm phase. This is similar to childbirth in that the surrender starts as labour starts.
Encouraging a woman to bear witness to her aroused and orgasmic self will give her information that will help prepare her for how ‘best’ to be with labour. Trust the process, its probably, actually, quite a familiar one.
Jane Hardwicke Collings