Monday, October 13, 2008

Orgasmic Birth

With a provocative title and in a city that boasts the highest percentage of births attended by a doula, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, a birthing assistant-turned-filmmaker, released Orgasmic Birth to an audience of over 500 people recently in Minneapolis.

Most of us associate childbirth with pain and discomfort. Debra's goal is to put a positive spin on the process of labor and hopefully, transform women's experience of it as well.

So what exactly does birth have to do with sex, other than the obvious fact that one follows from the other?

"The same hormone that we release in lovemaking is also released in childbirth and in breastfeeding — oxytocin," said doula Gail Tully. "It's a hormone that gives us a heightened perception, and it can take the edge off of pain."

Research suggests oxytocin is released when a woman feels safe and secure, when lights are dim, when there are few disturbances and there is quiet and privacy — not exactly the conditions in most hospitals.

In other words, the same conditions that are necessary for making love are necessary for having a baby.

The point of the film, says Pascali-Bonaro, is to show women, especially young women who have not yet given birth, an empowering image of birth that may certainly include pain but isn't about suffering.

Stephanie Johnson and her husband Andre Fischer of Minneapolis were at the screening.

"All I've been thinking of is that day of labor. I liked what someone said in the film, that pain of a contraction isn't a warning sign, something to get over. It's squeezing and embracing the baby."

Her husband, Andre Fischer, who has children from a previous relationship, was also moved by the film.

"I cried, because not all the other births of my children were like these," he said. "It was very emotional for me."

DVDs of Orgasmic Birth go on sale tomorrow, October 15th.

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press

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