One particular monologue is written by Eve about witnessing the birth of her granddaughter. She begins the piece by admitting that her original version of the monologues had left out the subject of birth completely–something that her experience with her granddaughter helped her to reconcile.
Birth is obviously quite connected to our vaginas, but also our sexuality, a fact that I feel gets overlooked and purposely erased. Childbirth and sex? Childbirth and orgasms? Yup. You heard right. Need proof? Here it is:
The chemical that is produced when a person orgasms is called oxytocin. Both men and women release this hormone–but women also release it at another time: during labor. That’s right folks…the same chemical released during orgasm is also released during childbirth. It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of the pleasure/pain divide. Now I’m not trying to say that the majority of women, particularly in US hospitals, are orgasming during delivery. On the contrary–its probably a minority, and the women who do feel pleasure during the process probably feel ashamed or confused by these feelings, particularly in a culture where the overwhelming sentiment about childbirth is how horribly painful it is. There have even been cases of women whose children have been taken away for confessing feeling sexually aroused during breastfeeding.
Doctors, technology and medicines are also instrumental in wiping out this connection–how could anyone feel sexy in that environment? Not to mention that being numbed from the waist down by an epidural definitely isn’t going to help you cum.
The great thing about oxytocin is that it has also been shown to help with maternal/child bonding, as well as bonding between partners. “In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and might be involved in the formation of trust between people.” Now that explains those post-coital feelings… It is also secreted during breastfeeding and nipple stimulation.
I personally think that part of the reason that the sexuality of birth has been kept secret is that we as a society love to desexualize mothers. We cannot handle the idea of a mother as a sexual being (just think about how middle-aged women are portrayed) and are particularly frightened by any hint of a sexual connection between mother and child as it is automatically seen as incestuous.
An awesome group of midwives and doulas (including the woman who trained me!) are working on this topic, and even making a documentary about it. Check it out here.