Top Ten Reasons Women Birth in Pain (rather than pleasure)

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“Why do most people tend to birth in pain rather than in pleasure?”

This is the question I am asked most often when I share about Ecstatic Birth. There isn’t just one answer to this, but a whole host of answers.

I’ve compiled what I see as the top 10 major factors women birth in pain as opposed to pleasure.

Some of them may surprise you…

10. It is our religious inheritance. Remember when Eve took a bite of that apple in the Garden of Eden? Womankind’s punishment for her sin was to suffer through childbirth. To birth any other way would be blasphemous.adam and eve

9. It is our cultural inheritance. Look at all the messages around us- How does the media depict birth? How do the moms around you talk about birth? Overwhelmingly our cultural messages reinforce the idea that birth hurts. Women who have had alternate experiences are often ashamed to speak up and if they do, risked being ostracized or outcast, especially if they speak of experiencing pleasure during birth.

8. We are stuck in our heads. In modern society, our bodies are primarily a means to get our heads from place to place. Mental, rational intelligence is valued above all others and yet you can’t think your way through birth. Birth is a primal full body experience. We must be able to let go of rational thought and get fully into our bodies, feeling each sensation, and be guided by its wisdom.

7. We don’t trust our bodies. In this age of cancer there is an underlying current of fear that our bodies will betray us despite our best intentions. Our bodies seem do things we can’t control and don’t understand yet this is all a symptom of our grand disconnect from ourselves. Our bodies are so wise. They hold primal wisdom, generational wisdom, experiential wisdom, all in addition to our mental rational wisdom. If we can learn to listen and honor that it would change everything.

6. Our broad level disempowerment. We have been taught to rely on experts to save us, rather than guide us. This can be seen in nearly all aspects of our lives, but most acutely in birth where the doctor is the one “delivering” the baby rather than the mother birthing her child. Each step of the way practitioners predominantly manage birth from the outside via interventions rather than supporting and empowering the mother to allow her ferocious feminine energy to come forth.

5. Birth is treated like an emergency waiting to happen. The energy of an “emergency” sets off a hormonal system in our bodies known as “fight or flight” which is dominated predominantly by our stress hormones of cortisol and adrenalin. This is in direct opposition to the hormonal system that governs birth, led by oxytocin, which is released when we are calm, connected, and pleasured. The two hormonal systems can not co-exist at the same time. Fight or flight signals the birthing body to halt the process until things are safe. A birthing woman’s body in this situation will literally be fighting against itself.

4. Interventions. Labor hasn’t begun yet? Pitocin! Pain too intense? Epidural! Labor taking too long? C-section! In the vast majority of cases interventions (which can definitely be life saving in appropriate circumstances) are overused and trigger a cascade of interventions that hinder the birthing process rather than support it.  Interventions, even the epidural, can take a birthing woman down a path that ultimately hurts a whole lot more than a supported natural birth would have.

3. We have mega-issues with our sexuality. If you are like the vast majority of people, the idea of birth as a sexual act will make you squirm in discomfort.  Why? Our cultural relationship with sexuality is completely distorted. We are obsessed and yet convinced it is dirty, vulgar, inappropriate (look at our foul language).  Birth is the culmination of the sexual act. We birth with the same body parts we have sex with and trigger the same hormonal reactions as we do during sex. Everything just happens on a much bigger scale. Any issues we have in relation to our sexuality will get triggered in birth and can cause small to massive resistance to labor and delivery.

2. We set ourselves up to fail. The dominant birth options available to women do not take into account and honor the birthing process. In fact they often work in opposition to it. From where we choose to birth, to who we have present, to how we move (or not), to what tools we have available to us, all of these can either support the progression of birth or hinder it. Choose consciously. Choose wisely. An easy shortcut is to think about the conditions that would support you in enjoying a sexual experience and apply as many of those to your birth as possible.

And the number one reason…by far… the factor that effects nearly all birthing women in some shape or form:

1. Fear.  Fears, both conscious and unconscious, can cause a birthing woman’s body to fight the flow of birth. This causes her body to work harder to keep labor moving along, which in turn causes more sensation, which can then trigger more fear, thus more resistance, pain, fear, and a downward spiral from there.  Every birthing woman has fears- that is totally normal. The key is to make sure that the fears are not running the show. Gather support around your fears, disarm them as much as possible prior to birth. During birth, make sure you are well supported. Doula studies have shown that the  presence of a loving, knowledgeable woman, who is not afraid, substantially transforms birth outcomes.  “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

Yes, there is a whole lot that a birthing woman today has to contend with, but none of it is insurmountable. It does take consciousness, preparation, and training. I can help.

Join my mailing list below to receive my 5 day e-course on the essential keys to Ecstatic Birth.

For women who are ready to really go for it, who are fully committed to the idea of birthing their babies in pleasure and are ready to plunge full heart and soul into their Ecstatic Birth prep, I offer a two month private training journey. More details here.

In love and pleasure,


Hi! I'm Sheila Kamara Hay

I'm an Ecstatic Birth advocate and trainer. I’m passionate about providing you with the tools and resources to create your own Ecstatic Birth.


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