Giving birth is one of the most profound experiences a woman can have—and, says sex expert and relationship coach Lila Darville, deciding to have a home birth can make it even more so. Here's why the Well+Good Council member says it was not just the right choice, but the only choice, for her.
I always have a little giggle to myself when people exclaim how "brave" I am for giving birth at home. Truth be told, it would take way more courage for me to give birth in a hospital.
To me, birth is as intimate as having sex. And it can be like the most amazing sex you have ever had—where you feel empowered, feminine, connected, excited, tender, sexy, and beautiful.
Okay, that might be a little far-reaching for some, but this is how I felt during the births of both of my sons. It was possible because of the environment and people I was surrounded by. Here’s why.
The cervix is a sphincter, just like the anus. In order to work properly, it must be relaxed. Imagine trying to comfortably relieve yourself in front of a group of people you have only just met, or attempting to orgasm while a group of strangers watches. Giving birth isn't so different: For it to be straightforward and comfortable, the mother must be very relaxed. She has to feel that she is able to entirely let go and do whatever she needs to bring the baby forth.
While I feel hospitals are wonderful in a complicated or emergency situation—and that's the only scenario in which I personally would choose to give birth in one—I believe firmly that each woman should decide for herself (after consulting with her doctor and doula, if she has one) how and where she wants to deliver her baby.
If we know anything about women, we know how beautifully diverse we all are. We look different, feel different, we orgasm differently, we are as unique and varied as flowers. It should go without saying that we all birth differently, too.
Birth is the most primal moment of a woman's life. It is fueled by both instinct and fear. But when a woman's instinct is diminished by well-meaning people with strong opinions about the "right" way to deliver her baby (be they her doctor, partner, friends, or family), fear wins out.
Birth is the most primal moment of a woman's life.
Part of me choosing to give birth at home is about reclaiming control and letting my instinct dictate the unfolding. My home is familiar, quiet, and safe. I can relax, move, rest, eat, breathe, and push as I need to; I'm in alignment with what my body and baby are communicating. Fear isn’t in the driver seat and instinct is everything.
At home, I get to choose the people who attend, the midwife, and my birth support. I can surround myself with people who trust in the process of birth and who trust in my ability to listen to my instinct. Beyond birthing a healthy baby, I don’t think we should have definitive goals for birth, just as I don’t think we should have them in sex.
If you have ever had that kind of sex where the energy between you and your lover dictates what happens, losing all sense of time and space, merging with something greater than yourself, utterly transported, this is what birth can be like!
The way we live our lives today, with so much external information to sort through, can make instinctual birth challenging—but we can learn, just as we can learn to be good lovers. Meditation, self-awareness exercises, breath work, movement, and other energetic practices are all powerful tools that can help connect us to our primal feminine instinct.
I am aware that home birth is not for everybody and that not all go as smoothly as mine.
No women should ever feel inadequate for not experiencing an ecstatic birth. You grew a human, for goddess' sake! However, knowing something is possible can open us up to a whole world of possibilities.
I am aware that home birth is not for everybody and that not all go as smoothly as mine. Some women strongly feel they need medical support, and they should absolutely birth in a hospital. It is definitely the place to be if you know you want pain medication, have a pre-existing medical condition, developed a pregnancy complication, are carrying multiples, or go into labor prematurely. But if this isn’t you, and you have even the slightest inkling that you might want a different experience in birth, do your research. Deeply feel into it before allowing someone else to make up your mind for you.
It’s about time we return to women feeling empowered in birth.
Many women simply don’t know how much choice they actually have, even if you choose a hospital or are having a C-section. It's your right to create your environment. I'm talking about everything from having a doula (your advocate in your birth), to choosing to have music playing and the lighting dimmed, to asking for the medical staff to refrain from chatting. These are all things you can request for your comfort, not to mention the myriad ways you can help make your baby's transition the most gentle and connective possible.
Whether it be in a hospital, in a birth center, or at home, it’s about time we return to women feeling empowered in birth. There is no “right way” to deliver as long as you feel safe, comfortable, and empowered. So claim it as your own and create the the environment that you can feel the most intimate in—because birth really can be like the best sex you have ever had.
An expert on sex and intimacy, Lila Darville is a professional relationship coach who brings her body-positive, real-talk approach to stadiums full of women as the pleasure director of a show in Las Vegas called Magic Mike Live.
What should Lila write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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