Belly Dance for Birth: The Benefits of Feeling Sexy During Labor

It’s becoming less taboo to talk about birth as a sexual event!  Thanks to the popular documentary Orgasmic Birth, the writings of Ina May Gaskin (midwife, author, and cofounder of The Farm birthing community), and the openness of women sharing positive birthing experiences through social media and birthing groups, we know that it’s possible to have an enjoyable or even downright pleasurable birth.  One of the key factors in making birth more comfortable and less physically damaging is feeling sexy during labor. 

It’s easy to think about the cyclical nature of life: green shoots coming up from soil composed of decayed matter, etc.  Think of giving birth in the same way and the benefit of feeling sexy during labor makes perfect sense.  Let’s be honest: the vast majority of pregnancies start with sex.  They start with two people, hopefully deeply in love, moving together in a beautiful dance that culminates in orgasm and the creation of new life.  Endorphins are key.  Enlarging of sexual organs is also key.  A man’s enlargement is hard to miss, but what about a woman’s?  Being internal, we’re largely unaware of it being just as dramatic an alteration.  We can tune in to the sensations, though. 

Women know that sex without arousal is generally painful rather than pleasurable.  The vagina has not had time to secrete its own lubricant.  The outer vaginal opening is clenched tight rather than being an open and welcoming passage.  We just don’t feel “ready.”  With arousal, though, the vagina stretches, enlarges, and becomes moist.  The vaginal lips open and swell slightly, and there is an overall feeling of fluidity and looseness and an eager anticipation for what comes next.  Endorphins are released, aiding in the feeling of deliciousness and a lessening of any sensations of pain (ever wind up with a bruise after sex and vaguely remember smacking your knee hard against a wall?). 

Apply this all to birthing, and it’s easy to see why Ina May Gaskin, who has delivered more than 1,000 babies, says, “I’ve never seen a tear in a woman who was kissing her way through the pushing phase of labor or touching herself as her baby emerged” (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth).  The birth canal and vaginal opening are designed to accommodate our babies.  If they’re not primed, though, their ability to comfortably yield is not as great.  Whatever we can do to create the feelings of looseness, readiness, eagerness, and fluidity we generally associate with sex is enormously beneficial for the ease and enjoyment of the birthing experience. 

Belly dance offers an incredible tool a woman can give herself for birth: movement that can help her retreat into her own sensual world during labor or invite others to join her in it.  Traditionally, belly dance was used not only to entice a lover (and ready a woman herself for lovemaking) but as a labor and fertility dance.  Women would gather together and dance with the laboring mother, encouraging her to move through the sensations, to loosen and prepare the birthing muscles, and aiding in proper positioning of the baby, all the while celebrating her ability to bring life into the world.  The movements are gentle, supple, and sensual.  They help focus the body in a way that is outside the mental realm – essential for allowing your body to do what it needs to do without hindrance from the intellect.  The pelvic rocking and circling of belly dance that come so naturally during birth can’t help but remind us of lovemaking, and so the circle comes around again, and a deep body understanding is allowed to surface.  The birthing body loosens, becomes supple, moistens, anticipates, and is allowed to enjoy the journey.   

Enjoy your journey. 

Dance of the Womb: A Gentle Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy & Birth

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