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Yes, Giving Birth Can Be Ecstasy

There’s this documentary I saw when I was getting ready to give birth to this here one-month old miracle strapped to my chest as I type. The documentary was entitled “Orgasmic Birth”.

Attention grabbing, isn’t it?

Well, it caught mine tight. Like the promise of sunshine in Siberia. I mean, my previous labor was as close as I ever want to come to a two-day stint at Guantanamo Bay. Waterboarding aint got nothin’ on prolonged back-labor.

I wanted – needed – this birth to be different. And here was this video depicting labor as orgasmic bliss, replete with footage of real live women having the most glorious experiences of their lives. So utterly different from my 48-hours of agony. Could birth-pangs really be morphed into ecstasy…or were they just trying to sell some CDs?

And so I started doing my research. First stop – Uncle Morris. Or rather, Doctor Morris. Morris, you must understand, is a seasoned genius of an OB-GYN. He has delivered many hundreds of babies into the world. Masterfully.

I’ll never forget his cackle of incredulity when I asked him about this whole orgasmic birth business.  “You’re kidding right?” He balked, “It’s got to be a hoax. I’ve never heard of it and there’s no chance it is possible. Birth is just plain painful.”  He was certain. And he’s the expert after all. He’s the one who reads those indecipherable medical journals and attends conferences in Hawaii. I’m just some dreamy-eyed Ina-May-reading mystic.

My heart sunk a few fathoms. And yet I would not be deterred so easily…Not when my prospects were either sure torture or a c-section.

So I turned to my friends. Luckily my friends are also dreamy-eyed Ina-May-reading mystics. And luckily they have lots of babies. We’re talking Jerusalem’s Superwomen who have gone through labor some 6, 7, 8 times. Most of them home-birthed. All of them hard-core.

Out of their mouths started pouring the most amazing tales of birth…pain-free births mind you.

And I quote:

“Well, I would never call the contractions painful…It was more like pressure. Intense pressure.”

“I have my own system worked out. I have my babies at home in the tub. I breathe through it and there’s no pain.”

“I don’t call them contractions, I call them waves and I just surrender to them. ”

“I find a corner of the house, get real quiet. I focus in and push ’em out.”

And the list went on.

Of course they weren’t all like this. But enough of them were to give a girl some hope again.

What stood out most were the stories of hypnobirthing.  That is, hypnotizing oneself out of the experience of pain. And for the lucky few, that means out of the experience of pain and into the experience of pleasure.

A pleasurable contraction! Imagine that! And IMAGINE THAT is right, because that’s exactly how you  achieve it. In your imagination.

A friend lent me her 6 CDs of hypnobirth training. It was basically a boot-camp in self-hypnotism. The CDs fed positive messages into my unconscious. “You are surrounded by a bubble of peace.” “You WILL  have a happy healthy birth.” “You are safe & serene.”

It was like stuffing the unconscious ballot box for a blissful birth.  My job was to breathe, relax, become highly suggestible and take my daily CD hypno-breaks. Which I did religiously. I was giddy with it all, busy building an inner-epidural out of mere imagination.

When the big day came I plugged in my ear-phones and pushed play….with a prayer that all that dreamy subconscious suggestion would pay off.

And paid off it did, my friends.

I simply watched the contractions sweep through my body as if I was an amazed spectator. They danced over me at graceful ten-minute intervals. 4:57am, 5:07am, 5:14am. Like a perfectly choreographed routine. I witnessed my body work its own mysterious & metered wisdom. Like a waltz. No pain, just witnessing. No pain, just waves.

And then it kicked into high gear. 5 minute intervals. 3 minute intervals. Pressure intensified. And this is when that Holy Grail I’d been hoping for came into sight. Because with the intensified possibility of pain came this sudden and massive influx of pleasure.

It was as if I was plugged into the universe’s most epic electric socket. The sizzling energy that had scorched me in my last birth, this time just lit me up. Like a buzzing generator, strong enough to light up a small city at midnight.

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This time I breathed. I focused. I used the voltage to my advantage.

Somehow I had learned how to harness the immensity of it all. The energy rolled around in my lower abdomen. Fuzzy and vibrating. Vibrant and expansive. I felt like an old-world alchemist turning lead into gold. My body spinning pleasure out of pain.

And this lasted for several hours. A joyful ecstatic state…dilating, opening, awesome, holy.

Though the popular literature calls it an orgasmic birth, I prefer to leave the sexual baggage at the door and simply label it ECSTATIC. After all, this sensation was so much vaster than mere sexuality. It was life force. It was mystic lava. The bedrock of existence. It was a soul bath in warm cream. Doused in my own mind-made opiates.

For hours, yall.

Until it ended.

And end it did, I admit.

By the time I was fully dilated I just couldn’t keep my focus any more. Like Icarus hitting  the pavement. I hit transition and turned into an angry and desperate animal. I yanked the ear plugs out and began my 40 minute birth-pang dance of hell. Replete with all sorts of messy yelling, cursing and gnashing of teeth as I pushed this dear child out of me. Not pretty.

But, hey,  40 minutes compared to 48 hours…with a mega-dose of bliss along the way. Well, I was the world’s happiest postpartum mama at the end of it all. Thank you hypno-birthing. Thank you Ina May. Thank you Superwomen of Jerusalem & our mighty imaginations. Thank you baby.

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And all of this is to say YOU CAN do it too. This story is not just intended for the pregnant among us. It can apply to anyone who believes they can create their wildest dreams out of thin air & imagination.

As a psychotherapist my main task is Life-Crafting — helping my clients to sculpt out their ideal realities from the pain of their lives. We are the all-too-often reluctant authors of our narratives. Our scripts and scenes are ours to dream.

If a woman in birth can wrangle absolute ecstasy out of life’s most immense pain, then we can all create our ideal realities. With the help of a little self-hypnotism & holy gullibility.

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Here’s my RECIPE for creating your wildest dreams:

BREATHE – The main ingredient here is breath. Lots of oxygen intake. After all, this is how we humans were brought into being. The great Creator blew His/Her breath into our nostrils. Every time we breathe we are partaking of that very divinity. And with it, we access our own most divine ability to craft reality.

RELAXATION – A relaxed body makes for an open mind. Banish stress. Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth. This will automatically relax your jaw. Which will automatically relax your shoulders. Which will automatically relax your entire body. Which will automatically relax your mind. Which will automatically relax your very reality into softer, more malleable stuff.

SEROTONIN & HER COUSINS – When we relax we get to partake in all the lovely hormones that come with that relaxed state. Dopamine.  Phenylethylamine. These positive hormones are the soup of life-sculpting. Imbibe.  

ARTICULATION – You can talk yourself in to this! In fact, you must start with self-talk. Begin with some good convincing and you will end up with good conviction. Positive affirmations are key. G!d said “Let there be light,” and just look at all this sparkly bright stuff surrounding us. Whatever it is that you want to create, state it, and repeat. State it and repeat.

HOLY GULLIBILITY – Don’t be fooled by the hitherto fixities of reality. Believe in the impossible. Like Ben Gurion said, “In order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”  Know with reckless certainty that you can have that job or that guy or, yes, even that certainty.

Believe.

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JEWISH POST-SCRIPT: And finally, just to end with a little juicy Jewish post-script. Our sources say that the Messianic Era will be preceded with Chevlei Mashiach – the birth pangs of the Messiah. It’s a handy Jewish metaphor for all the most dreadful things imaginable. The era before our ideal new world is born is classically understood to be accompanied by horrific pain.  But what happens when we apply the above birth vision to this Messianic idea? Suddenly the pain is morphed into pleasure. With a committed dose of focused breathing, belief and holy gullibility may we witness the overturning of pain into nothing short of ecstasy.

And for you expecting mamas out there. I am so jazzed about this approach to birth I would love to tell you more about how to achieve it yourself. (Hopefully without the 40 minute dance of hell at the end!) Please do contact me at chaya@shalevcenter.org