"It's that loving, sexy vibe that puts the baby in there in the first place, and the same loving, sexy vibe will get the baby out."
Spiritual Midwifery, pg. 186
*Integrating our own unique sensuality into a healthy lifestyle is important for women and men of all ages, and I am happy to open up a conversation with anyone who is curious, has questions or would like to learn more! However, for this page in particular, I am going to primarily focus on how sensuality affects, and can be integrated into, pregnancy and childbirth.*
As soon as I mention the word sensuality, especially in the context of childbirth- a certain amount of people automatically become a bit uncomfortable and squeamish. Somehow, the ideas of sensuality and birth... or even (dare I say it)... pleasure and birth... seem almost incredulous to consider in the same sentence. But this is a conversation that is beginning to happen with more regularity in our culture of late, and I believe it is an important conversation for us to keep having. The more we can speak about it, the more normal it will hopefully become for us.
It's no wonder that when the word "childbirth" is mentioned in a group of people, it conjures up terrifying, blood curdling images of screaming women laying in hospital beds and their panicked partners flapping around- trying to figure out what to do. This is what movies, and TV, and magazines and books have been telling us to expect from labor and delivery for decades. How, in that particular paradigm, is any kind of joy or pleasure ever even possible to think about in childbirth?
But there is good news here! First of all, these conversations are actually happening in the mainstream. Secondly, we have come to learn that what a woman expects when it comes to labor will change the kind of experience she has. If you are expecting it to be excruciating and horrible- it will probably feel more uncomfortable than if you can relax into your body, focus on how powerful you are, and trust in the the process. Just think of how magical it will be to hold your baby in your arms for the first time! When we are afraid, our bodies tense up and then labor slows down. Contractions will become more intense if you fight them, as they must do more work to help your body open up for baby.
Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to considering adding sensuality into their pregnancy and childbirth experience. For some, that might be really small steps- like getting a massage, and for others that might mean kissing and touching a partner during labor. There's no right way to do any of this- it's about discovering what is right for you.
Sensuality and sexuality are not necessarily synonymous, although we often confuse those two words. Sensuality implies something that hones and awakens all of your senses: awakening your body, spirit and mind. It doesn't have to have anything to do with the act of sex (although it can).
Here are a few simple ways you can begin to incorporate sensuality into your pregnancy and/or childbirth today:
- Do something you enjoy and brings you pleasure (anything counts here: time with your partner, walking the dog, gardening, dancing, etc...).
- Receive prenatal massage, or ask your partner/close friends for specific touch often (back rubs, foot rubs, hand massage, back scratching/tickling, etc...)
- Fill your home with, and lavish in, your favorite scents! If you have a favorite flower, incense, candle. or meal that smells wonderful to you then take the time to enjoy those scents when you can.
- Listen to your favorite music, sing songs or play an instrument that brings you joy.
- If you're in the mood, enjoy the many different types of pleasure you can discover with yourself and your partner in your growing and changing body. Your pleasures and desires might be different during pregnancy than they were before you were pregnant, and they will most likely change again after the baby has been born. Just because they're different doesn't mean that something's wrong- it's just an opportunity to get to know your body and it's new desires!
During your pregnancy, keep little notes of things that feel good to that you might want to remember during labor. If you love having your hair brushed, kissing your partner, or light touch on your back- chances are you will also really enjoy those things during labor, too!
If you choose to integrate sensuality into birth, it doesn't mean that you will have a "pain free" birth. Labor is still a very powerfully intense experience that will prepare you and your partner for parenthood. But this can help you focus on finding many different levels of sensation in your body- including the pleasurable ones. It is my hope for you to feel at home in your body, to feel strong in your body and to know that you can stand up to any challenge that you face, and soar through it with flying colors.
If you are interested in learning more, or if you'd like to continue a conversation about integrating more sensuality into any stage of your life, be it pre-pregnancy, prenatal, antepartum or postpartum, I'd love to hear from you!