Sex, Drugs and Babies
Day one of my doula training was ten straight hours of beautiful, unadulterated knowledge. My Lord, my head is spinning. It was an incredible amount of information to digest. I’m still processing a lot of it. A few points to mention:
We watched the documentary, Orgasmic Birth. Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve been thrown off by this film and have avoided seeing it, because sometimes I’m too practical for my own good. I’ve kinda scoffed at the idea that a woman can have an orgasm while giving birth. How ridiculous! Any right-brained American woman will tell you that while in transition and or pushing she’s not thinking orgasm. Well, fiddly-dee. I was wrong. There was one woman on the film that said she had not one, but two orgasms during her labor, and from the looks of the film clips of her birth, yes, indeedy she did have one or by gosh-golly it did kinda look like two. Good for her, seriously. However, that’s not the point. What I want to say is that I think the title of this documentary is all wrong. It would be better if it were called Empowered Birth, or Ecstatic Birth or even Joyful Birth. I say this because everyone they filmed had what I would call an empowered birth experience. The mothers were in the environment of their choosing, labored in the way that was best for them, stayed in control and in touch with their body while pushing – and upon their birth, had the biggest oxytocin release of their life.
The documentary explains that oxytocin is our sex hormone. It’s released when one has a strong sexual experience – it gives the brain a sense of euphoric love and causes deep bonding with your partner (which is why casual sex is bad. Yes, it’s my blog, so my opinions). What some do not realize is that this hormone, oxytocin, is the same hormone that causes a woman to go into labor and her uterus to contract. Here’s the kicker, the moment you give birth you have the largest amount of oxytocin in your body that you will EVER have at one time. EVER! That’s one big O right there. Well, that is if you have a pitocen free birth. If you are given pitocen (which is the synthetic version of oxytocin) to induce your labor, or increase your contractions, this actually reduces the amount of the real oxytocin in your body. You see a woman’s body will recognize the synthetic hormone as oxytocin and will not produce the real stuff (in regular amounts) since the imposter is already present. The downside is that pitocen, since it’s man-made, can’t release the euphoric sense of love and ecstasy in your brain that oxytocin does (Yeah, bummer man). Ya follow? Which is why you really don’t want to be induced with pitocen if you don’t have too. Also, did you know that having in induction increases your chance of c-section by 50%? YIKES. On top of that, an epidural increases your chance of c-section by 40%! Double YIKES! Say no to drugs, ladies.
Anyway, the documentary is called Orgasmic Birth because birth in its uninhibited or organic state is very intimate, private, and well, sexual. The definition that Orgasmic Birth’s website provides for “orgasmic” really lets you in on the secret of the film: Intense or unrestrained excitement or a similar point of intensity or emotional excitement. That definition right there is what all mother’s should get to feel when they birth their baby. I highly recommend watching this documentary if you are interested in labor and birth. Be prepared for lots of boobies though, so you may not want to watch it with a horn-dog teenage boy or your husband (which, I know can sometimes be confused as the same thing).
Our instructor shared her own birth story. It had lots of what I would call negative elements to it. She labored alone mostly, had an episiotomy from Alaska to Argentina, and then her daughter was pulled out of her by in utero forceps delivery (that’s where a Dr. uses forceps to pull the baby out of your uterus, before the baby is actually in the birth canal). Can you say ouch! Here’s the amazing thing, she ended her story by saying it was, and I quote, “The best day of my life.” She told us her story to shock us as doulas into realizing that our perceived ideal of the perfect birth experience is not what others may see as the perfect birth experience an we should NEVER touch what one mother may see as perfect with our opinions. Got that doula girls? This is just good advice in general for all of us women to remember, especially me.
If a woman has had sexual abuse in her life, her labor and birthing may prove to be very difficult. Not only that, but sexual assult also puts a woman at greater risk for postpartum depression. As doulas, it’s our job to be extremely sensitive to women, to serve their birthing needs, to protect and care for them during their labor experience. Did you know one in four woman have experienced sexual abuse in some way? Now you do the math. As a doula that means 25% of my clients will need sensitivity from me regarding this. I need to learn how to serve all my clients well. I may be a doula and think I’m present to comfort the laboring body, but some of my duties will extend past the physical and need to touch the heart.
All in all, this has been a positive first day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Until then, when I say “dou” you say “la”…. “dou”…. “la.”