Masturbation in childbirth?

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VICE UK offers the Argument for Masturbating During Childbirth.

Doula Angela Gallo describes her experience:

As I neared transition, near the end of labor, I was feeling very vulnerable and stressed-out; I went into the shower to find some relief, and my husband asked if I would like to have sex. I said no, but it reminded me I could self-stimulate,” she told me. “The second I started using clitoral stimulation, the resting period between contractions was more pleasurable and I could use more force to meet the climax of the contractions.” Gallo described the sensation as “taking the edge off” the pain more than sexual gratification.

Childbirth educator Kate Dimpfl explains:

How could masturbating to release MORE oxytocin ease labor pain?

“The hormones in birth and sex are identical,” explained Dimpfl in her TEDx talk, “We Must Put the Sex Back into Birth,” pointing to the hormone oxytocin, which was literally named after the Greek term for “swift birth.” Oxytocin is released during sexual arousal and orgasm, but also during childbirth, skin-to-skin contact with a newborn, and breast-feeding. With oxytocin comes a rise of endorphins, which can naturally reduce pain.

Really? And yet the idea of masturbation during childbirth appears to be restricted to privileged Western, white women who have marinated in the natural childbirth literature. To my knowledge, it was unknown in any time, place or culture across the entirety of human experience until it was promoted by Ina May Gaskin. Gaskin is a privileged Western, white woman with no medical, nursing or midwifery training who is considered the grandmother of the American homebirth movement.

Gaskin* didn’t promote masturbation per se; she extolled the virtues of the provider sexually touching the laboring women:

It helps the mother to relax around her puss if you massage her there using a liberal amount of baby oil to lubricate the skin. Sometimes touching her very gently on or around her button (clitoris) will enable her to relax even more. I keep both hands there and busy all the time while crowning … doing whatever seems most necessary.

And:

Sometimes I see that a husband is afraid to touch his wife’s tits because of the midwife’s presence, so I touch them, get in there and squeeze them, talk about how nice they are, and make him welcome.

Subsequently, Gaskin elaborated a theory to explain why sexually touching other women benefits them, the theory parroted by childbirth educator Dimpfl. Gaskin made it up; it is pseudoscience invoked to justify her sexual touching of other vulnerable women while they were in agony.

Another privileged, Western white women, Debra Pascali-Bonnaro, embellished the theory to fabricate “orgasmic birth,” another phenomenon never described by anyone else, anywhere else, at any other time throughout the millennia of human existence until it was “discovered” by privileged Western white women steeped in the natural childbirth literature.

There’s no harm to masturbating during labor, just like there’s no harm to imbibing homeopathic preparations that are nothing more than water. But just as the harm of homeopathy comes from expectations of efficacy, the harm of promoting masturbation in labor is also of raising expectations of efficacy. Moreover, the belief that childbirth is a form of performance art, whereby a woman demonstrates mastery of her own pain to such an extent that she engages in sexual play during labor, is also harmful.

Advocates of sexual touching during childbirth proclaim that the hormones of sex are also the hormones of childbirth … yet they neglect to mention that they are also the hormones of miscarriage. That fact seems to have escaped them.

Many, perhaps most, hormones have multiple functions within the body. Cortisone, for example, is known as a stress hormone, but it is also important in fighting inflammation. That doesn’t mean that the two are inevitably connected; when your body produces cortisone to fight an infection in your finger, it doesn’t lead to the fight or flight response at the same time.

Oxytocin also has multiple functions in the body. It is involved in both sexual arousal and in labor pain but it obviously doesn’t create the same effect. Indeed, the idea of sexual touching in childbirth to reduce pain is nonsensical. During labor circulating levels of oxytocin are highest and labor is usually agonizing. How could masturbating to release more oxytocin ease labor pain? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

The sad fact is that, to my knowledge, sexual touching during childbirth was virtually unheard of until Ina May Gaskin started doing it to women under her care. She made up a theory to justify it and she is held in such high esteem by her acolytes that instead looking askance at her behavior, they emulated it, albeit modified to self-stimulation instead of provider stimulation. That’s unfortunate.

The history of and the historical justification for sexual touching in labor is deplorable. Women should be questioning it, not copying it.

 

*The quotes come from Spiritual Midwifery, 3rd and 4th Editions.

  • jennaj

    Midwives are quacks. Pure and simple.

  • Anna

    I can t understand how a woman in labour can accept be be touched this way during this special moment.I would have reacted with anger if the midwife had even suggested this.May be I am somewhat narrow-minded but to me the birth is about the baby and addict any sexual dimension to these precious moments of his life is disturbing at the least.
    I can understand the desire for a minimally painful childbirth and this is what epidurals are here for.

  • mabelcruet

    Didn’t the Farm start out as a collective/commune/cult with her husband as cult leader? Sexual assault is commonplace in cults-the followers are brainwashed to accept this as normal. So having a elderly woman diddling you and fingering you whilst you’re in labour as she encourages your partner to join in, surely thats perfectly acceptable and entirely normal behaviour for a cult?

    I know very little about her, but what I’ve read is just horrifying.

  • Kate

    Methinks IMG is no more than a sexual predator with a birth fetish. Why is she not locked up?

    • demodocus

      probably a proof thing.

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  • nomofear

    Totally off topic, but I’ve googled and can’t find anything – I saw this shared on fb yesterday http://www.local10.com/health/splenda-linked-to-leukemia-study-finds?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_WPLG_Local_10
    I strongly suspect it’s a bad study. The only things that come up when I Google are local news stories, and sites like mercola. Does anyone know where to find the actual study?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Well, if it’s this article then I would point out that the experimental protocol called for exposing mice to high doses of sucalose starting prenatally and may not be entirely relevant to the concentrations of sucralose likely to be found in the human diet.

      • nomofear

        Thanks for all the responses! Now, to tell everyone why they can calm down

    • Dr Kitty

      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10773525.2015.1106075?journalCode=yjoh20&#/doi/abs/10.1080/10773525.2015.1106075?journalCode=yjoh20&

      That is the study.
      About 800 mice, 500 odd males, 300 odd females.
      The statistically significant results apply only to male mice, and the 2000 ppm and 16000ppm diets, so dose dependency isn’t clear cut.

      Even GIVEN that, statistical significance means that there is a 1-5% risk that chance alone could explain the findings…

      Mice aren’t people, it isn’t a big study (considering how many mice are in each litter) and it appears it used mice from the same litters (prenatal exposure) meaning one can’t discount litters with a genetic susceptibility to leukaemia screwing with the data.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        It sounds like they used lab mice, which are essentially clones. I can’t seem to access the full text article, but if they needed 800 mice to get a statistically significant effect at p<=0.05, then it's likely not a very strong effect. Any idea what the hazard ratios were? Also, the age adjusted leukemia (all leukemias) rate in the US has been decreasing since the 1990s. I'm underwhelmed by the risk.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Um…my bad. I misread the graph. Actually, leukemias have been increasing steadily since the 1970s. Note: steadily. Since the 1970s. It’s not splenda causing it unless the manufacturers have a time machine.

        • Roadstergal

          Swiss mice are outbred, partially based on the standard C57Bl/6 mice. They’re an odd choice, and they don’t say why they chose them in the article.

      • Roadstergal

        I’d disagree that it’s not a large study – the numbers are quite good, but the choice of strain (as below) is odd, and they looked at too many endpoints.

        However, a quick review of the table – it seems like they looked at 38 cancers. 38!! I would bet large amounts of money that the increased incidence of hematopoetic cancers was post-hoc decided upon. :p

        • Roadstergal

          I also am annoyed that they didn’t report the exposure of the mice, which you could (and should) do – mean amount of feed per day x amount of sucralose in feed. Compare that to humans and see how many fold over expected exposure for humans consuming some reasonably estimated amount of sucralose.

          It’s not a bad thing to dose-response up to massive over-exposures, to see what kind of safety window a foodstuff has, and to see what sort of sentinel events you might see, but you really want to draw the lines of ‘at 100x yer average American’s exposure, you start to see y.’

        • Dr Kitty

          800 mice is about 100 litters, in five groups, is twenty mother mice in each group, no?

          Given that they aren’t suggesting HOW sucralose is supposed to cause haematopoetic cancers, but only in males, I think you might be correct.

          • Roadstergal

            Ya, for inbred strains, that’s not a bad n, in my world? 20-40ish mice per group in a tox study?

          • Dr Kitty

            I bow to your expertise.
            I stay away from rodents, if possible.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. The only thing true spouted by them is that oxytocin means swift birth. Amazing.

  • Froggggggg

    And yet… these are the types of people who will cry “birth rape!” and acccuse obstetricians and other health care providers of assault should they ever do anything to a labouring woman without explicit permission. How is this different?

  • Marie Gregg

    Because that’s not crazy AT ALL.

    C-sections are madness. Fetal monitoring is awful.

    But sure. Feel me up while I’m in labor, good woman. Tally ho.

  • Margo

    But best of all would if she was not within 100 miles of me and my perineum or crowning head. Madness. Women at their most vulnerable do not need her type of busy hands. When I read her years ago I was shocked and am so now.

  • Margo

    Now if Ina May took up knitting and just sat in the corner whilst I laboured… that would for me, be very good, keep her hands busy on knit one purl one……or if she sat on her hands that also would reassure me, somewhat.

  • Xeni

    The other harm is from midwives and doulas thinking that sexually assaulting and molesting vulnerable patients is benign. That is certainly the justification my midwife offered for assaulting me twice–once during crowning, as I screamed “NO STOP” and once “establishing breastfeeding”–at which point I was too weak from blood loss to resist further.

    • Gatita

      That sounds horrific. I’m sorry you went through that.

  • Amy

    IMG makes my skin crawl. What kind of provider calls breasts “tits,” the clitoris a “button,” and the vulva a “puss”??? My children have called these parts by their proper names since they were two. What kind of provider touches a patient unnecessarily?

    • Megan

      First of all, these quotes are taken out of context. In the latest addition of Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May describes the reason behind the terms she uses:

      “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the power and influence of these words [for women’s private parts] and the attitudes that we have towards them. Generally speaking, the more comfortable a woman is living in her body, the more easily she gives birth. Unfortunately, women are quite likely to absorb negative cultural attitudes about their private parts during early childhood. Vaginas are supposedly dirty…and somehow lesser than the male organ. …I tend to resist being told what words to use or not to use for my body parts. I don’t want to be restricted to having only a vagina or a yoni because all other words are considered too vulgar…There is nothing wrong about my body, and if some words suggest the opposite to many people, I think they need to hear these words proudly spoken (and see them written) enough that innocent words no longer possess such a crazy-making power over us.”

      You can agree or disagree with her choice of words, but please take the time to understand her reason for doing so before blindly criticizing her.

      • Amy

        I disagree not only with her choice of words but her reasons. Because they’re reinforcing negative cultural attitudes. We use the appropriate words in our house: vulva, clitoris, breasts, vagina. My daughters don’t think they’re gross.

        I *have* both of her books (SM and Ina May’s Guide). And reading them made my skin crawl. She says things that are flat-out scientifically incorrect (the cervix is a sphincter? um, no). She pushes the idea that if you think the right thoughts you’ll be able to “accomplish” a natural birth, as if it’s an accomplishment. Like a lot of CPMs, she armchair quarterbacks other women’s births without having access to the medical records.

        I don’t think *you* realize that many of the regular commenters here came from the natural birth/natural family living world and were treated like garbage. If reading Ina May makes you feel better and you want to use her non-clinical woo-tastic terms for body parts, go for it, but I maintain that it’s highly inappropriate for a medical provider to do so.

        • Megan

          How are they reinforcing negative cultural attitudes? She argues that using them openly takes away their negative connotation. This is similar to the way that “queer” used to be a negative term, but now many in the LGBTQ community have instead embraced the term and turned it into something less negative.

          Also, IMG clarifies that the cervix is not literally a sphincter, but she believes that it behaves similarly to one and uses it as a sort of analogy.

          I never argued that medical providers should use the terms Ina May does. I simply provided a quote from her that puts her use of those terms into context. That’s fine if you disagree.

          • Amy

            She DOESN’T use the medical terms openly. Calling a vagina a “puss” does nothing to take away the negative associations with the word vagina. Calling breasts “tits” doesn’t do anything to make “breasts” a more positive word. She’s using slang. And OMG, “button” for clitoris?!?

            I could see someone saying that perhaps “vagina” has a negative cultural association. But that’s not what you’re saying here– rather, you seem to be arguing that the clinical terms aren’t the problem but the slang terms are, and that IMG’s use of them in clinical settings is “reclaiming” them. That’s ludicrous. What’s next, using the c word?

            The context doesn’t help your point here. IMG can’t have it both ways. She and her followers love to go around boasting about the Gaskin maneuver and her association with Yale, but then want to use terms like puss and tits and call patients mamas and clients.

            And in a medical setting, belief and analogy aren’t appropriate. Science is appropriate.

          • Megan

            “She DOESN’T use the medical terms openly.”

            First, she DOES use the medical terms alongside other terms (e.g. if you look in the index there are 11 pages listed with at least one use of the word “vagina”, and flipping to the first page listed I found clitoris used 3 times in a page and a half). And to clarify, she isn’t claiming that using words like “puss” and “tits” take away negative associations with the words “vagina” and “breasts.” She is hoping to take away some of the negativity associated with the “slang” words themselves.

            “You seem to be arguing that the clinical terms aren’t the problem but the slang terms are…”

            Isn’t that exactly *your* point? That vagina and breasts are not problematic to use but the slang terms are? Nowhere does Ina May recommend that midwives and medical professionals use the terms she does in the book. I agree with you that it wouldn’t be appropriate to use “slang” terms in most clinical settings. I personally could not imagine myself using those terms as a nurse myself. IMG doesn’t even say that SHE uses them in clinical settings. Maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t; regardless, in the preface she specifically says that her use of the words in this edition (4th) of the book is a “new experiment” and that she would be “happy to listen to your feedback about this experiment…”

            Do I still sometimes have a negative association with words like “pussy”? Sure. But the fact that she uses them in the book in a non-negative way makes me literally stop and think about it as I’m reading, and it forces me to question my assumptions. Hearing your views and having this exchange forces me to question my assumptions. That’s a good thing. I do think people’s reaction in these comments demonstrate IM’s point that certain words have “crazy-making power over us.” And this may seem like a silly analogy, but it’s like the use of Voldemort’s name in Harry Potter; for most characters in the books, his name incites fear, and people think it’s ludicrous to hear it spoken, but Dumbledore uses his name openly because he feels it takes away the negative power of the word.

            Finally, you said earlier that IMG and other CPMs “armchair quarterback” women’s births. The definition of armchair quarterback is “a person who offers advice or an opinion on something in which they have no expertise or involvement.” So attending 2000 births means IMG has no involvement or expertise in birth? CPMs, who go through specific training, have no “expertise” or “involvement” either? IMG was the keynote speaker at the American College of Nurse Midwives conference a few years ago because of her expertise in birth; she has given a TED talk because of her expertise. You don’t have a 1.4% cesarean rate and 0 maternal mortalities without at least some expertise. That’s significantly better than most trained doctors in the US can do.

          • Amy

            MY point is that using slang terms in a clinical setting is unprofessional and borderline creepy. I hire medical care providers for their skill and expertise, not their commitment to “normalizing” slang terms. You never addressed my question about the c-word– would it be okay if IMG used *it* with her patients? There is nothing wrong with casual slang terms for body parts, but it’s highly inappropriate to use slang terms in patient care. And the reason is that the literal, clinical terms for body parts are just that, and as such are the most accurate way to refer to them.

            Yes, IMG and other CPMs totally armchair quarterback other women’s births. CPMs go through completely inadequate and incomplete training in general, but more specifically they know absolutely nothing about non-patients’ births without seeing those patients’ medical records. Yet that doesn’t stop them from pontificating about how they KNOW so-and-so’s c-section was unnecessary, or such and such an intervention was unnecessary. They weren’t the provider, they don’t know what was going on, so no, they are NOT involved. THAT is armchair quarterbacking.

            If YOU personally feel inspired and encouraged by IMG, good for you. But that doesn’t make her behavior professional or acceptable. And there is nothing you can say that will make the use of words like “puss” and “tits” and “button” acceptable by someone who claims to be a professional.

          • MJeano

            It seems like you didn’t really read what I was saying in my last response; I’m starting to feel like a broken record. I AGREE with you that it isn’t okay to use those terms in a clinical setting. I never argued it was, and I explicitly said that in my last two responses. In our culture, those words currently hold a negative connotation for most people, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for a provider to use them. IMG is simply doing an experiment in her BOOK to try help women think more positively about their bodies and take away the negative power of those words. Maybe it will work for some, maybe not for others.

            As for the “c-word”, I didn’t realize you were waiting for me to address that – IMG does use that word in the preface of her book, and she sees it the same as any other word used to describe women’s body parts that currently holds a negative connotation. I don’t remember seeing it elsewhere in the book, though. No, I don’t think it would be appropriate for a provider to use that word with patients, just like I already said it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to use other slang words.

            As for armchair quarterbacking, you seem to be greatly overgeneralizing CPMs. Are there some who claim to know a C-section was unnecessary? I’m sure there are. Do they all do that? Absolutely not. But isn’t it exactly the same thing for Dr. Tuteur to say she KNOWs that most babies that died at a home birth would have been saved at the hospital? Has she seen the notes, was she the provider, and was she even involved?

          • momofone

            How exactly does using slang for parts of anatomy challenge negative connotations?

          • MJeano

            I’ll refer back to the original quote I posted where IMG explains her reasoning behind it:

            “There is nothing wrong about my body, and if some words suggest the opposite to many people, I think they need to hear these words proudly spoken (and see them written) enough that innocent words no longer possess such a crazy-making power over us.”

          • momofone

            I read the quote, thanks. I could not possibly care less what she thinks people need to hear. It doesn’t make me question why I find them unprofessional or inappropriate; it reminds me why I find them that way.

  • Laura

    Oh, and if my husband asked for sex while I was in labor, he’d be dead. As it is, I don’t want anyone touching me at all at the end of my pregnancies.

  • Laura

    I once heard an account about how a laboring woman wasn’t progressing or something and the doctor instructed the husband to touch her clitoris to supposedly help her progress. I personally wonder if that doctor wasn’t just getting some thrills out of it.

    I do not know the couple–I just heard about it from a friend who knew them.

  • Ani

    I still can’t get past the fact that, aside from the sexual assaultiness of the whole thing, she bills herself as a professional, and uses the terms “tits” and “button” to refer to a woman’s body. I’ve also read pieces where she refers to the vagina as “pussy” and “cunt”. All these women that worship Ina May would be screaming “obstetrical violence” If an OB ever used those words!

  • MaineJen

    I cannot even describe how ludicrous this idea seems to me.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    This isn’t the first time I’d heard about masturbation in labor. In college, I read about a sex educator who constantly asked about during childbirth classes, and had a picture of herself taken using a vibrator during labor. She prided herself on being edgy and uninhibited, but it came off attention-seeking.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    Hubby asked if she wanted to have sex in the middle of labor. Sounds like a prince of a guy.

    • Allie

      I almost took my husband’s head off for asking where my insurance card was during a contraction. I think he’s still scarred (and scared) by it. Had he asked for sex, it wouldn’t have been “almost” : )

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Hey, he just wanted to record it.

  • Zornorph

    All sorts of weirdness here, but one thing I found really stage is the woman who was in labor considering if she wanted to have sex with her husband. I know some people say sex can bring on labor, but would anybody want to have sex during it? I know as a guy, the notion would horrify me – there’s a really awful joke about a guy having sex with a pregnant woman and denting the baby’s head but that would be all I would be able to think of if I was doing it during labor.

    • Roadstergal

      You know how sometimes you’re walking down a narrow stairwell and someone is coming the other way and you do the awkward dance?

    • Sarah

      I thought perhaps they were defining sex more widely than penetration. People sometimes use the term to refer to a session including other options from the menu.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I swear I read a story here about some chick that had sex with her husband after her first twin was born before the second was born. Sounded like an infection waiting to happen to me.

      • Dr Kitty

        That was the Lisa Barrett “up to 48hrs between twins is a normal variation of twin labour, but I’m just a doula, not a midwife” labour.
        The husband was called Currawong IIRC, and the mother later clarified that by “sex” she meant that gave her husband oral sex, solely in order to ingest his semen, in the hope of expediting to delivery of the second twin. Romantic.

        • Roadstergal

          They should encapsulate semen for induction purposes. #Entrepreneurial

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’ve mentioned here once before the one time I had a dream that someone on Iron Chef ejaculated on an appetizer for their meal

          • Gatita

            Everything is ruined forever.

          • Zornorph

            True story – in the late 1980’s, somebody here (The Bahamas) started a rumor that an employee at McDonald’s who had AIDS ejaculated into the mayonnaise. Poor McDonald’s – there was nothing they could do about the rumor but it cost them like half their business in the entire country for close to a month.

          • Zornorph

            Good thing it wasn’t on ‘Chopped’.

          • Roadstergal

            Today’s mystery ingredient is… Foreskin.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I wasn’t going to go there….

          • Roadstergal

            It’s not the worst ingredient they’ve had on Chopped. I remember they had a Thanksgiving special where they had to work gummy turkey feet into their appetizer…

          • Zornorph

            Italian sausage.

          • AJBW

            I laughed out loud at this and then considered it! I live in a city where plenty of people have too much money to burn… you may be onto something!

          • Sue

            Great idea. Maybe mixed with garlic.

          • Spamamander
          • Allie

            LOL, the marketing possibilities are endless. Baby-cum-lately?

        • attitude devant

          Hellena Post—‘creatrix’ It’s still up on her blog I think.

        • Daleth

          the mother later clarified that by “sex” she meant that gave her husband oral sex, solely in order to ingest his semen, in the hope of expediting to delivery of the second twin. Romantic.

          Getting oral sex from your wife while she’s in labor? That sounds like a great way to get accidentally castrated, when the next contraction makes her grit her teeth. Good lord. PEOPLE ARE CRAZY.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          How is that supposed to work? Even if semen does have something in it that would help along labor, wouldn’t stomach acid most likely destroy it?

  • Amy M

    “During labor circulating levels of oxytocin are highest and labor is usually agonizing. How could masturbating to release more oxytocin ease labor pain? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?”

    That (above) is immediately what I thought of when I read the Dimpfl quote. Do these people even listen to themselves? She, herself, said that oxytocin is produced during labor, so she knew it was already there. Even if one could “add more” via arousal, why should it have pain-relieving effect, if the massive quantities already available do not?

    And a lot of these NCBers are opposed to pitocin administration, making all sorts of claims about how its harmful. If pitocin does the job of oxytocin (in order to produce muscle contractions), and oxytocin is pain relieving, then pitocin should be welcomed as pain relief. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work this out, it amazes me that anyone believes Dimpfl and Gascon that sexual arousal/climax will act as pain relief.

    • Roadstergal

      “If pitocin does the job of oxytocin”

      Pitocin _is_ oxytocin. Of course, I’m sure they’ll blather about how a synthetic chemical that is identical to the ‘natural’ chemical is somehow different, because crystals or something.

      • nomofear

        (Ex-NCB’er here) they do. From basic it’s synthetic so it’s bad, to the preservatives with it are bad, they’ll fight it being identical. They need to – their incomes depend on it, right?

      • Amy M

        I know, but its used to do the job the natural oxytocin isn’t doing. You are right, that they like to claim that synthetic oxytocin is somehow different and acts differently in the body. 🙁

    • Valerie

      I gotta say that I’m unwilling to dismiss the experiences of the women who report that stimulating their genitals reduced their pain perception (or the related, that they orgasmed during birth, accidentally or otherwise). The oxytocin mechanism the proponents generated is naive and highly unlikely, but that doesn’t mean that some women didn’t find it helpful, even if it’s just an effective distraction.

      • Roadstergal

        Nobody is dismissing them – I think the general sense of the comments here are “If it works for you, close the door and go at it, but it should not be suggested, encouraged, or god help us, facilitated/performed by a health care provider. Don’t pretend there’s physiology there that isn’t supported by the evidence, and it should absolutely not be an excuse to deny pharmacologic pain relief.”

    • Allie

      My husband’s been trying to convince me for years that it will relieve a headache : )

      • Mishimoo

        I’ve tried – it works for all of two seconds, then the headache returns with a vengence.

    • Megan

      While the chemical makeup of Pitocin is the same as oxytocin, the way it functions in the body is different. Although there is still more research that needs to be done, the research that is available suggests that when oxytocin is released in the brain, it also stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins. Pitocin is administered via an IV, and thus bypasses the brain and does not involve the same release of endorphins.

      Source: I wrote my senior thesis on the effects of PItocin and how it affects the body differently than endogenous oxytocin. Too many sources to cite here but could provide further information if needed.

      • Dr Kitty

        Do.
        Please.

        • Dr Kitty

          Although…
          You don’t really *need* endogenous endorphins to mitigate the pain of labour if you have adequate analgesia from an epidural…

          • Megan

            I agree. But you could also say that not all women really *need* an epidural if they have adequate endogenous endorphins.

            I am not saying you should or shouldn’t get an epidural. Every woman is different and every labor is different.

        • Megan

          What specifically would you like more information on? I can try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge

  • namaste863

    Ina May is a pervert. In every helping profession I know of (Student Social Worker here), sexual touching of a client is the best way I can think of to lose your license. In some states, it’s even a prosecutable offense. And as for “Making the husband welcome” to touch his wife’s breasts, it seems to have never occurred to her that the woman might not want her husband to touch them. On all counts, consent has been thrown out the window. That’s called sexual assault, my friends.

    • Madtowngirl

      I think that’s what’s most disturbing about this to me. If a woman requests stimulation while in labor, it’s one thing. But the language here suggests that she didn’t ask first. The whole thing gives off a really creepy vibe.

      • Roadstergal

        Even if a woman requests it, it is _not_ the role of a health care provider to give it. She can bring in a friend/spouse/lover/doula/JeJoue Mimi/etc. I can ask my HCPs to give me an orgasm all day long, but they are not going to do it, because they are professionals with ethics.

        • Madtowngirl

          Very true. It would be incredibly unethical.

      • namaste863

        I don’t know…..I’m thinking like a therapist. Clients often times experience sexual desire for their therapists, but the inherent power differential in the relationship means that true consent is impossible.

        • Madtowngirl

          That’s an important point that I had forgotten about.

          • namaste863

            Makes Ina May that much creepier

        • demodocus

          In other words, Just because a student has a crush on his Social Studies teacher does not mean s/he won’t get fired (and possibly jailed) for returning the affection.

          • namaste863

            Exactly.

          • Zornorph

            Young teacher/the subject/of schoolgirl fantasy…

          • demodocus

            ah, Mr Bunofski (sp?). He was really cute. i was not the only kid with a crush on that one when he student-taught in my junior high.

          • Zornorph

            I had a friend who had SUCH a crush on the girl’s soccer coach that she would fake being hurt so he would pick her up and carry her off the field in his arms. He was such a goody-goody square, I don’t think he had the slightest clue.

          • BeatriceC

            I wound up dating one of the TA’s that was teaching one of my classes when I was in undergrad. Granted, it was years later, after I’d been married and divorced, and we were no longer teacher/student, but it was one of those surreal experiences in life that you just can’t predict.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Dating someone who was your TA some years before is quite different, ethically, than dating someone who is currently your TA (or more to the point, your student.)

          • BeatriceC

            Of course. 🙂 But it’s still funny to actually have that little fantasy come true, even if it was years later. I did nurse a small crush on the guy while he was my teacher.

          • Roadstergal

            Pleeese don’t crown sooo cloooose to me…

          • Gatita

            Bwah!!

          • An Actual Attorney

            Sting, the subject of many fantasies, was a high school teacher for a while before his music career took precedence. Always made that song a little more… ambiguous.

    • demodocus

      My husband would feel welcomed. To strike her.

      • namaste863

        If I had a husband, he would have to take a number. And there wouldn’t be much left for him once I got done with her.

        • demodocus

          i didn’t say he would’ve been first

    • Zornorph

      Good think Ina May doesn’t HAVE a license to lose!

      • namaste863

        I would argue that she doesn’t have a license to lose or a regulatory institution to lose it to is precisely the problem.

  • Gatita

    I don’t have a problem with women masturbating during labor as long as it’s not coerced or non-consensual. I’ve masturbated to deal with bad period cramps. It wasn’t the sexiest thing ever but it took the edge off. Self-stimulation is a very different thing than what Ina May describes, which is more akin to sexual assault.

    • BeatriceC

      I like having sex to help with really bad period crams. Thankfully MrC isn’t squicked out at the idea. However, and this is the most important part, I’m the one that initiates things for that purpose. If anybody had touched me like that during labor I would have probably gone on a warpath.

      • Charybdis

        I quickly learned to do such things myself. As a fairly heavy bleeder for the first 3 days, the few times I tried penetrative sex to orgasm to help with cramps, well, the place looked like a murder scene or the prom scene in Carrie.

        • BeatriceC

          I have a specific set of sheets, a mattress pad and a bunch of extra towels just for that purpose.

      • mythsayer

        See, now that’s interesting, because anytime I’ve had an orgasm with cramps, the cramps get WORSE. Bad to the point of wanting to cry, actually. Funny how people experience things so differently.

        • BeatriceC

          I was a bit skeptical the first time it was suggested to me. This was years ago, long before I met MrC. I’d been planning on going down to Key West for Fantasy Fest and was going to be staying with a certain male friend. He wasn’t a romantic partner, but so long as we were both unattached, we filled certain needs for each other. Both of us were really looking forward to the week. I called him the day before to tell him the “bad” news. He asked why that would put a stop to things. I said because it was messy and most men didn’t like it, plus I got awful cramps. He convinced me that he didn’t mind, and that a lot of women he knew got relieve from period sex, and if I was willing to try it, he would be willing to help (typical male…*eyeroll*). Anyway, I figured “why not”. If it hurts too much, I know he’ll stop.” Turned out to be a life-changer for me.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Not to provide too much information or anything, but when I was in labor the last thing on my mind was any sort of sexual stimulation. And if anyone, CNM, OB, nurse, partner, passer by had suggested it I’d have slapped them to the best of my ability. If someone else feels differently and wants to go for it, fine, just close the curtain or whatever, but recommending it as a part of treatment…ugh. No. No, no, NO and this is coming close to actual birth rape.

  • Roadstergal

    I was in a great deal of pain when I broke my collarbone. Fortunately, the EMT helped me to masturbate instead of giving me painkillers. I highly recommend it for any pain readers might be experiencing. If a guy is at the ER with his dick out, don’t worry, he’s just practicing nonpharmacologic pain relief for his inflamed appendix.

    • Gatita

      *waiting for parachuters to not get the joke*

      • Zornorph

        If she hadn’t been parachuting, she wouldn’t have broken her collarbone!

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    • FrequentFlyer

      If my husband ever gives that kind of pain relief to a patient on the ambulance he will immediately lose his wife, his home, and his job. Fortunately, I don’t think we have to worry about that because he isn’t a pervert.

      • MI Dawn

        FrequentFlyer: Perverts can be fun. I’m dating one. However, he would never harass an non-consenting person. And as far as having anyone touch me like that in labor – they’d have gotten kicked in the face!

        • FrequentFlyer

          I know some consensual perversion is fun. I just meant he wouldn’t do anything against another person’s will or betray my trust even if the other person was willing. Anybody that tried to touch me while I was in that much pain would get kicked in the face too!

        • Roadstergal

          Oh, yeah, perverts are great – playing Naughty EMT sounds like a lot of fun! But perversion and professionalism in the health care field do not mix.

    • nomofear

      Ha!

    • Deborah

      At my dental surgery they have just introduced oxytocin infusions for pain management for the removal of wisdom teeth and root canal work.
      This is revolutionary. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? We could have all been anticipating the sexual thrill of going to the dentist and enjoying orgasms galore during our time in the dentist chair. I feel a law suit is warranted.

  • canaduck

    God but those quotes make me gag. The fact that the midwife is masturbating her patient at all is disturbing but I doubt she could have described the process in a more nausea-inducing manner. I shouldn’t have read this while eating.

    • Madtowngirl

      Seriously. It’s pretty crass language, and I don’t want anyone touching me anywhere during labor if they can’t use proper clinical terms.

    • meglo91

      Yes. Jesus Christ. She is so gross.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    Sounds like sexual assault if you ask me.

    • meglo91

      Not just to you! This is absolutely sexual assault.

    • Sean Jungian

      I am late but I was thinking the same thing – how is this not sexual assault? Nobody seems to want to call it what it is.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Last weekend, my wife and I were in Vegas and went to the Erotic Heritage Museum (we were going to Puppetry of the Penis – if you are in Vegas, this show is a must-see; it is an absolute riot, and it’s relatively cheap). We went by the display of vibrators, and they had stuff about how the psychiatrists used to stimulate women for “hysteria.” My wife got a kick out of the part about how the vibrator was invented because doctors in England had problems with their hands getting overly tired (carpel tunnel!).

    We can laugh at such aspects, but the concept, “Orgasms as the treatment for hysteria” is, of course, nowadays horrifying. Seriously, you’d figure only a man could come up with that.

    If a male OB suggested something like this, they would be (rightfully) considered a total creep. But midwives? Hey…

    • demodocus

      (Unless you’re in Vegas visiting your grandparents who live there. We went to baseball games and the excalibur)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Hell, take your grandparents. Grandpa would love it.

        And grandmas love Thunder from Downtown Under at Excalibur. I’ve heard there used to be an elderly lady who went every day.

        If you can afford La Reve at the Wynn, that is the show to see.

        • demodocus

          Mine might have gone, but he would NOT have taken any of his kids/grandkids. Wouldn’t have wanted us to get ideas. Half their grandkids were still underage when they moved back east.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            You can’t get into Puppetry of the Penis if you are under 18

          • demodocus

            I suspected as much.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Largely because of language, although not completely. Although young guys would find most of it really funny.

    • Deborah

      There’s a movie called “Hysteria” – I think Maggie Gyllenhall is in it. It’s really good – bit of a light hearted look at how the vibrator originated.

    • Bombshellrisa

      We went to the atomic testing museum and Fat Tuesdays, maybe I should suggest Fat Tuesdays and then a trip to the Erotic Heritage museum next time?

  • crazy grad mama

    When it comes to a laboring mother and her partner—hey, whatever floats your boat. But the midwife taking a lead role, especially the way Ina May Gaskin talks about it, just seems horribly inappropriate for a healthcare professional.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      But the midwife taking a lead role, especially the way Ina May Gaskin talks about it, just seems horribly inappropriate for a healthcare professional.

      As I said in my comment, imagine if a male OB suggested it.

      • CSN0116

        I had a hot ass male OB with #3. Hell, I might have entertained the idea… just sayin’ 😉

      • Roadstergal

        Imagine if a male OB just started rubbing women’s clitorises during labor to try to get them to orgasm. Can you say ‘massive lawsuit and immediate termination of employment’?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Unless it were big NCB guys, like Odent, Fischbein or Biter.

          Then it would be all great. I mean, look at the response to Fischbein. What’s the deal about preying on your patients sexually so long as you support the mission of NCB?

      • Zornorph

        The last male OB who tried this wound up committing suicide and his wife had to work as the nanny for his accuser. Didn’t work out so well for anybody.

        • meglo91

          Excellent Hand That Rocks the Cradle reference. Just wanted you to know someone noticed.

  • AA

    If anyone is wondering if the Gaskin quote is true, look for the oldest editions of her book. It was apparently removed from newer editions. But if you look at the oldest version on Google books, you can find it.

    • sdsures

      I remember it from another SOB post. Disgusting.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I just added that it came from the 3rd and 4th editions of Gaskin’s book Spiritual Midwifery.

    • Shawna Mathieu

      There’s a lot of disturbing stuff in that book. There was one anecdote about a woman who was having trouble during labor, and Ina and her husband decided she had some sexual hang-ups about maybe having a boy, Ina’s husband told some incest jokes. The hell?