by Katy Thomson
“Orgasmic Birth” is certainly a title that grabs your attention and intrigued many as it made the rounds of screenings and film festivals throughout 2008, and is now available to purchase on DVD. Hopefully soon it will no longer be “Childbirth’s best kept secret” as it is referred to in the film by midwife Elizabeth Davis.
First time film maker Debra Pascali-Bonaro challenges our cultural myths by inviting viewers to witness the glorious emotional, spiritual, and physical heights attainable through the miracle of birth. This film reveals that childbirth is something a woman can enjoy rather than endure.
“Orgasmic Birth” is an intimate documentary capturing stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth. A collection of emotionally evocative images of women giving birth in a caring, comfortable environment with loving touch and even a few orgasms. The message in the film is more about reframing how we view birth, not necessarily to have orgasms during birth but how one could perceive the pain/intensity. The film showed many people were afraid of the pain but how some women let go, surrendered, believed in the power of their bodies, connections with their babies and trusted in the process of labour and birth. A movie poster states, “Witness the passion as birth is revealed as an integral part of woman’s sexuality and a neglected human right.”
This film chronicles the pregnancies, labours, and births of eleven couples demonstrating how blissful birth can be when the mother is surrounded by a supportive family, a patient caregiver (midwife, doctor, or nurse) and an environment that allows her body to do whatever is needed to ensure a safe serene birth. Comparing and contrasting settings from water births, midwife assisted births in hospitals, birthing centers, to all natural, home births and families of different races, religions and customs, Debra does a great job of depicting the diversity of an empowering experience; from giving birth on a deck in your own back yard to experiencing some of the most sensual experiences between husband and wife during the labour process.
Interlaced within the film is commentary from numerous renowned experts that speak out on the topic of childbirth, the medical system, epidurals, caesarean sections, natural childbirth and much more. The experts come from a wide array of fields such as family doctors, gynaecologists, obstetricians, midwives, paediatricians, nurses and researchers in the areas of childbirth. Eloquently covering many topics that relate to birth with solid research from science and nature backing it, these experts also offer some simple truths. As obstetrician-gynaecologist Christine Northrup warns in the film, “we have been brainwashed to view birth not as a natural process, but as an emergency waiting to happen”. And Ina May Gaskin reminds the viewers that “the same hormones that got the baby there in the first place are the same hormones to get the baby out”.
Additionally the film includes the story of a mother who was sexually abused as a child and young adult, and she shares that “my birth became the most powerful thing that’s happened to my body….and I was transformed”. The couple’s stories are beautiful, captivating, sensual, natural and even humorous at times, depicting that birth can be spiritually orgasmic, emotionally orgasmic, or even physically orgasmic-point being that regardless of the orgasmic element itself, it can be orgasmic period. What a crucial message for the young women of our society. For generations we’ve been raised believing that childbirth is the most painful thing a woman will ever endure, how much healthier and more hopeful is it to instead believe that birth is something to be treasured and enjoyed.
It is not very often that a book or a movie comes out that has the potential to change peoples lives, but “Orgasmic Birth” is such a film. Orgasmic childbirth is not new idea but this film is the first truly intimate exploration of the feat. The film shows childbirth in a very positive, beautiful, achievable light. It incorporates the perfect balance of facts and inspiring real life stories that help guide women towards making educated decisions about their own childbirths. I am happy to recommend “Orgasmic Birth” as an excellent tool to expand the ideas of expectant parents so they can harness their own instincts for labour. The extras part with the numbers of maternal/ infant health is very well presented too. Just keep in mind that these figures and procedures vary from that here in Canada.
Katy Thomson has been involved with the wondrous world of birth for over fifteen years. Katy has worked, lived and volunteered with many families and organizations while travelling around the world before settling in beautiful Vancouver to further establish her career as a Doula and Childbirth Educator. Being away from her own family Katy really got to see and feel the importance of family and learn how other cultures support a new mother during the child bearing year. Drawing her closer to her doula nature Katy has been privileged to witness and participate in births within different cultures, giving her a wealth of information on pregnancy and the birthing process. Katy is a mum of three, a Breastfeeding Counsellor, Childbirth Educator, as well as a certified Birth and Postpartum Doula, who is always continuing her education and working towards a lactation consultant certification.