Monday, June 3, 2013

Guess which makes headlines - Birth Orgasm 0.3% or Perineal Tears 39.9%?

The fact that some women experience an orgasm during birth is not a new concept, as one midwife commented at the bottom of yesterday's Daily Mail article: "Can I please state in 1984 when I became a midwife this was well known so its not a new study, but in 30 years I have never seen it NOT ONCE." (lizzy2511 Swansea, United Kingdom, 2/6/2013 23:41)

But a new study by Thierry Postel has highlighted the possibility once again.
The French psychologist contacted 956 French midwives, of which 109 online responses were completed, and concluded that there was a 0.3% rate of women who experience an orgasm while giving birth.

Informing women

I don't have a problem with Postel's survey per se, but I do have concerns about how its results might be used by some maternity health professionals, in the context of emphasising that birth need not be viewed as inherently painful or fearful, but rather an experience to be embraced and enjoyed - with the 'right' mental attitude.

I also think it might pile on pressure for some new mothers, who may already feel like they've somehow 'failed' if their labor didn't go according to plan, and now they discover there are women who enjoyed their labor in more ways than they might ordinarily divulge.

Now I don't write this blog in order to scare women, but I do think it's important to inject a little balance to the 'orgasmic' headlines that I've seen over he last few days, and remind women that in England at least, maternity data includes the following percentage outcomes too:

Perineal laceration (39.9%)
Long labour (10.3%)
Obstructed labour, fetal distress and umbilical cord-related complications (30.5%)
Episiotomies (15.2%)
Emergency cesareans (14.8%)

So if birth isn't orgasmic for you, you're really not alone.

I think it's a shame we don't see more news headlines and discussions about how to reduce some of the big numbers above - and have a little less focus on the titillating topic of orgasms in a context that most people are really not interested in at all.

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