So You Gave Birth. Was It Pleasurable?

March 12 22 min read

The below interview is an extract from the book Subversive Motherhood, by Maria Llopis,

published in Spain in 2015 by Txalaparta, translated by Arancha Garrido.

Adapted here for Lustery.


It happens more often than you think and has always existed. But since there is a great deal of prejudice towards this kind of childbirth, many women who have experienced it to still keep it a secret. Ecstatic birth is also known as orgasmic birth, but the point is not whether you reach orgasm or not—just like in any other sexual relationship—but whether the experience is satisfactory as a whole.

Ecstatic birth should be another stage of motherhood, a sexual stage, alongside the sexual pleasures of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I like to think that there was a time when we always gave birth with pleasure, before the biblical and patriarchal curse fell upon us.

Sarri Wilde is a woman whose experience of motherhood has opened the doors to her liberated, unbridled relationship with sexuality. She is a gentle and tender woman, whose intense conversation and immediate closeness is striking. She is one of those few happy women who gave birth, not in pain, but with infinite pleasure. It all caught her by surprise and changed her life along the way.

She lives in Valencia, and devotes herself to developing, exploring (and exploding!) spaces with cultural and artistic activities. She has a son and a daughter. We met through a shared friend who gave me her my contact details as soon as she heard that orgasmic birth was one of the themes I wanted to tackle in this book. It was the first interview that I did, and it’s with her that I want to begin this journey.

In a horchatería, in Ruzafa, Valencia, on a proverbially hot summer’s day in 2013, we began to talk about parenting and feminism:

SARRI: When I got pregnant, I was conscious of the importance of extended breastfeeding. I read that in order to lactate successfully, the childbirth experience had to be good. So I began to make preparations to ensure the birth was as respectful as possible. It was all for the sake of lactation, and not for the experience of the birth itself.

I went to talk to a friend who had given birth at home. I really felt like doing that, but at the same time, I was afraid. I contacted a gynaecologist who had assisted home births, and that gave me a great deal of confidence however we eventually agreed to do it in a hospital. I would call him every now and then to ask whether I had to go to the hospital already, and he would tell me not to rush it yet. That was all very good.

When we got to the hospital I had bad luck. A midwife entered while I was asleep and broke my water. She even sent my partner, Marceline’s father, Groco, away on meaningless tasks while she did it. When he came back, he was really mad at her. Plus we didn’t want to have any drip. I was exhausted and woke up to find myself already on a drip, with my water broken, and a raging Groco. We later found out that she wanted to go home early, and was eager to wrap the whole thing up. The gynaecologist I had been preparing with was also furious. Apart from this midwife, we were lucky and everything went along fine. I gave birth, inside a hospital, and very naturally.

MARIA: I’m very glad for you. Was it pleasurable?

S: That’s what I didn’t see coming. I knew nothing about this. They left me for quite a while alone with my partner, and suddenly, I felt like dancing. I didn’t know why, I only wanted to hug him and dance with him. Groco says, ‘I’ve never seen you as affectionate as you were that one time.’ I couldn’t get enough. I led him to the toilet and said: ‘If I could I would make love to you, here and now.’ I was doing this weird dance where I would bend down and rise, kind of in an “s” formation. We were laughing the whole time; it was a lot of fun. At that point, I hadn’t read anything on sexuality and childbirth - that came much later. My sexuality had always been pretty average. I would even say I wasn’t very interested in it. But my sexuality was awakened that day, while I was giving birth.

After childbirth, my sexuality was completely changed. We had sex constantly, which is how I got pregnant again. It’s probably the best sex I’ve had, between the births of our two kids.

The second time I got pregnant there was no doubt in my mind: I was going to give birth at home. I began to investigate about the dance I had done during my first birth, which led me to Casilda Rodrigáñez. From her, I read about pleasurable and joyful births; about births without pain, like mine. I wouldn’t define what I felt as pain. I would call it tiredness, like when you get tired after walking. Maybe some women see it as pain... maybe I found pleasure in pain, I don’t know. Maybe it was pain, but not a bad pain; it was an organic pain. That’s the word: organic pain. At that moment I couldn’t put into words what I felt. I would say to myself: “How can I explain this?” I had to remain silent, I couldn’t tell anyone.

M: How was Jack’s birth?

S: I knew Jack’s birth had to be at home. Amparo de Vargas, from the naturist centre, helped me out, and it was splendid. If I didn’t feel pain with Marceline, this was something amazing.

M: Put it in words; I can see your face, but those who will read this interview can’t see you now. What was that something?

S: The most beautiful thing.

When I look back on it I sometimes think it is a pity my births were so short. They were so quick. I kept on telling myself: “No, no, not yet.” The pregnancy and all the rest was over too soon... I’m really made to be pregnant.

M: Have another child!

S: No, no. Parenting is very tough, and life has led me in another direction. Giving birth opened up my life to a beautiful world. Now I understand those women who used to always be pregnant. I get it. They must have had a great time!

M: I consider pregnancy, childbirth and lactation to be a series of stages in the sexual lives of women. Would you consider giving birth to be a sexual experience?

S: Before Marceline’s birth, I had only had sex with one person. I had two lovers before, but only one-night stands.

I discovered my sexuality when I got pregnant. Menstruation didn’t make a woman out of me. It was my pregnancy that made me a woman. I had, of course, touched myself before, but not like I did after giving birth. That’s really when I learned what my sexuality was capable of. In fact, after Jack’s birth, my partner and I separated because I felt I needed more sexual experiences.

I’ve been living without a partner for many years now, having beast-like sexual relationships. Back then I would go out any day and bring one, two, or three people home with me. I said to myself: ‘I can’t die like this, without experiencing more, after what I’ve just discovered.’ And I risked a lot because my partner and I separated while I was still in love with him. But that’s just the way things go.

M: Did he refuse to have an open relationship?

S: I didn’t suggest it. I’m very independent, so I didn’t make the decision with him. I informed him of my decision; the possibility of an open relationship didn’t even come up.

M: You know what I’d like to talk about, and what I think we’re leaving out: the stages of the childbirth. You know, the dilation, the push, the delivery. Which parts did you feel to be more orgasmic or ecstatic? I had a very good birth but there was a moment when I was completely dilated that I connected with a very deep pain. And that’s where the pleasurable part ended. Other women who have experienced orgasmic or ecstatic births have noted that it is in the delivery stage that their pleasure comes with a powerful orgasm.

S: With the birth of my second child, I had a clearer idea of the whole process. I was already due, lying in bed and breastfeeding Marceline when I began to have an orgasm. I got very wet and I stood up because I felt weird. That’s when I realized that my water had broken.

I went down the steps (we lived in a two-story house then) dripping everywhere, and I told Groco: ‘The birth just started to happen.’ I had already come and everything but the thing didn’t stop there. It’s like when you have sex - if you can keep going, you do. My partner has to tell me when to stop or I could keep having one orgasm after another.

Let’s go back to the subject at hand. I went and sat down on the couch, I had been touching myself the whole time, and at some point, I asked Groco to leave the room - I didn’t want to be watched while I masturbated. Just like in Marceline’s birth when I wanted to dance with him, in this case, I wanted to be left alone.

I twisted like a wild animal, across the floor, the couch, around everything. I needed to rub myself against everything. I got down on all fours and the baby began to come out. At that moment Amparo, the midwife, came through the door. Groco left the front door open so she wouldn’t need to interrupt the birthing experience. She says that when she opened the door and saw Jack’s head coming out, she screamed: ‘With the abdomen, with the abdomen!’ I recall that too. I rose to my feet and he came out. I was truly ecstatic.

In my opinion, an orgasmic childbirth isn’t separate from a woman’s sexual development. What differentiates my sexuality before childbirth and after is that now I can control my orgasms, and hence my sexuality. I kicked Groco out of the room because I was pleasuring myself and I didn’t need anyone else there. It doesn’t matter who I have relationships with now, my sexuality remains egotistic.

So then Amparo and Groco carried me to the shower. I was so ecstatic that I couldn’t remember I had just had a baby. Amparo had to breastfeed for me. Me? Breastfeed? No way, all I wanted was to keep on coming.

The placenta was out by now and I was super tired. It wasn’t like in Marceline’s birth where I took care of everything regarding the baby. Jack was dressed and fixed up by Groco. He didn’t bathe him because Amparo didn’t think he should. He did everything. He even pulled my breast out so that Jack could breastfeed. I can’t say if he latched on or not, I don’t remember. It seemed like he didn’t grab on immediately, but we didn’t worry because we knew he would just grab on later, and that would be it.

Anyway, I already had milk because I was still feeding Marceline. I remember one morning when Marceline woke up and said: “Mommy, titty.” She grabbed a breast, Jack was hanging from the other, and she asked: “Have you bought me a doll?” I told her it was her brother and the kid flipped out. Jack was already latched by then. I recall very distinctly that he had latched that morning.

M: And how was Marceline’s latch?

S: Beautiful. The gynaecologist knew lactation was important to me, so when Marceline was born he immediately put her on my belly. Marceline crawled with the cord still on and grabbed me by herself. The gynaecologist was saying, “Don’t touch her. Keep close, but don’t guide her.” She latched on her own, without any pains, without any problems of positionioning. She latched like a pro, then didn’t let go for three years.

M: I’m beginning to work as a doula and the woman that accompanies always asks me: “What should I do when it begins to hurt?” And I tell her, “What if it doesn’t begin to hurt?” Her mother and grandmother had very good childbirths and their periods were always painless. So maybe it doesn’t hurt when she gives birth.

S: My periods also aren’t painful. It never occurred to me to talk about childbirth with my mother. It was later that I told her: “Mom, it wasn’t painful for me.” And she replied: “No, it isn’t painful. I had three children and it never hurt.” She got very angry at the third birth because they gave her a painkiller without consulting her.

M: She had them in a hospital?

S: Yeah, in a hospital.

M: Have you ever talked about your sexuality with her?

S: No, not with my mother. I haven’t talked about this with many people. For me, it was a brutal discovery. With Marceline it was madness. I even went to a therapist. Because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had such a need to expand my sexuality!

M: Did Casilda’s texts help?

S: I’ve read all her books and texts. After I could say, “I’m not crazy!” She gave meaning to a feeling. That led me to rationalize everything.

M: And to let yourself go during Jack’s birth.

S: Yes. By the time I reached Jack’s birth, I had strong self-esteem. I knew what was happening, and I had a name for everything.

When I told my midwife about Marceline’s birth, she told me that this second one was going to be very fast. I thought, “Fuck, I’m not even going to notice!”

With Marceline, the contractions were very long. With Jack I had contractions at the hour he was later born at for a month. Every day at 10 pm. Amparo told me that I began the process of labour with those contractions, my body was dilating and getting ready to give birth.

M: Your midwife is very wise. I’d like you to tell me about the changes in your sexuality. In those new sexual relations that you established with the world, and with your own body, were there people from both genders and different sexes?

S: My whole sexuality changed because, without noticing, a weighty Christian burden suddenly dropped off. When I separated from Groco, I knew very clearly that I only wanted to have sexual experiences.

I’ve opened myself up to everything, though I haven’t tried with animals (laughs). I’ve been with two boys at the same time, two boys and one girl, etc. Now I’ve been with one person for a few months. I’m surprised, as this wasn’t the intention. He was afraid of me because he only knew me as a person with a very open sexuality! I don’t intend to be faithful to him, or to respect him. The day I don’t feel like staying with him, I’ll leave for my sake. I’ve learnt to be faithful to myself, not faithful to people. I’m faithful to what I’m feeling. What I’m not going to do is betray myself.

I’m very happy with my sexuality. I see it as the fruit of my personal trajectory: getting rid of my guilt, carrying out my desires, feeling that I control each and every situation. Everything that happens does so because I choose it.

I’m very curious and I like to read a bit of everything but I didn’t read about this, this came to me from somewhere else. Orgasmic birth has been one of the few things that has purely been experience and vitality. It really is a matter of life experience, and about people being willing to accept that experience. But not all of us must have an orgasmic birth! Imagine what pressure that would be!

My friends and I meet every Wednesday, and we talk about sex and other things. They say it’s easy for me because I’m multi-orgasmic. I tell them that not always, only when I can and want. And sometimes, even when I can’t come, they’ve turned out to be some of the best sexual experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t set an aim; I just go with an open desire to have a good time. Even without penetration. I’ve had marvellous orgasms without penetration and almost without being touched at all.

The worst is to set a standard of “this has to be this way”. That attitude is very masculine, unfortunately.

M: With childbirth, we ought to be able to say something like that too: ‘I came here to have a good time, to have fun, to live through the experience.’

S: In life, we ought to seek pleasure in everything. We tend to forget this. If a child does something, it hurts; they don’t do it again because they are seeking pleasure. As we grow older, our imposed education makes us forget the basic facts. We’re going to have to struggle and strive, yes, but the question is: does the effort bring you pleasure?

You don’t need to reach orgasm in order to have a good birthing experience. Maybe the birth hurts and, maybe you happen to enjoy that pain. Why does it have to be a bad pain? I’m going to have a good time, even if I cry, scream, and claw. Did I have a good time? Well, then, let me be in peace with my pleasure.

That’s why, in an active birth, the woman moves so much. She searches for something: not here; there, that’s better. It’s the same with sex: Now, let’s change. And why did you change if we were fine as we were up to now? Because I want more. It’s pretty similar to childbirth. You switch between positions, you go searching, you find it, it goes well and then, suddenly, it gets stuck; your contraction gets stuck. Just like when you are having sex: it’s going well and, suddenly, you don’t find it; well, then, switch positions.

That’s why dancing is comparable to sex, and I think that’s why I danced the first time.

To order Subversive Motherhood in full and learn more about Maria Llopis you can visit her website

If you want to read more about ecstatic birth, consult the book Parirás on placer, by Casilda Rodrigáñez, or the documentary Orgasmic Birth - The Best-Kept Secret, by Debra Pascali-Bonaro.

Maria Llopis
« María Llopis is an artist, activist, feminist, queer, and post-pornographer. Llopis deconstructs the sexual subject of feminism in order to develop a discourse that is closer to practices around pro-sex feminism or transfeminism. » All posts →