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A healthy dose of ecstasy.

I’m at that age when suddenly all of my friends are getting married and having babies. I’ve been around more pregnant ladies and babies in the past six months than ever in my life and I absolutely love it. It’s magical, mystical, and mind-blowing to me that human beings are actually made inside other human beings. The creative potential that we hold as humans is so HUGE. When I start to think about it for too long I have to stop because sometimes I feel like my head will explode with the sheer wonder of it all.

The thing about birth, whether it’s an actual baby or some other brilliant creation, is that it’s messy. I’m in the process of birthing a new project that I’m cell-buzzingly excited about, but the reality is it’s not all rainbows and plush ducks and onesies. I keep waking up in the middle of the night panicked because the thing is, once you give birth to something, your life as you know it is over. And that’s certainly good news in most cases. (Every parent I’ve ever asked has told me that having kids was the best thing they’ve done in their entire lives.) I know that as I birth this project that I’m in the process of creating I’m saying goodbye to my life as it is and welcoming in massive amounts of adventure, the unknown, and infinite possibility. And it’s all kind of scary.

Having never given birth myself, nor ever witnessed a birth, I’m certainly no expert. But I’ve heard a thing or three about it from my mom who’s probably delivered thousands of babies (and two of her own) and from the women in my life who have generously shared their stories. My sister and I were obsessed with watching a documentary called Water Babies when we were little. We couldn’t get enough of watching women give birth in water and seeing their tiny newborns swimming around, sometimes within hours or moments after coming out of the womb. I think we were fascinated partly because it hadn’t been so long since we had made that shocking journey from living inside our mom to breathing oxygen and being a separate person. And I think part of the fascination also came from the part of the birth process that still rivets me today: that we have that much life force and potential within us ⎯that it’s enough to create a human life.

As a culture we’ve turned birth into a medical emergency. Women are systematically talked out of the wisdom of their bodies to bring another human being into the world, something that we’ve been doing for thousands and thousands of years. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the medical community. Not only was it responsible for paying for my college education (both of my parents are doctors), but also there are times when modern medicine is so necessary and an incredible blessing. When it comes to birth, though, a great deal of extra fear is brought in by a culture that has forgotten that our bodies are designed to be vessels for human life. Is it not enough that when a woman has a baby she’s taking a huge leap into the unknown and saying goodbye to her life, as she knows it? Must we also add to it passing down birth horror stories from mother to mother and a fear that somehow her female body somehow missed the memo and wasn’t passed the innate wisdom to give birth?

My mom was in a documentary called Orgasmic Birth created by Debra Pascali-Bonaro a few years ago. I was blessed to attend the opening of the film in New York City. Watching the film I was so aware of the fact that Debra and her colleagues were shedding a light on something that is a huge taboo and definitely not something that most women are made aware of: that birth can actually be pleasurable. What?! We are taught that suffering buys us something, that those who struggle the most are somehow worthier human beings, and that the only way to get anything done that’s worthwhile is to work your asses off. The fact that Debra, my friend Sheila Kamara Hay (read below for information on her Ecstatic Birth Telesummit), and others in the birth advocacy and consciousness world are bringing awareness to what’s possible for women in birth is revolutionary. It’s also confronting and scary to many. It’s seductive and fascinating to others. What I love about this particular type of consciousness raising is that it’s gentle and feminine. It doesn’t make any woman’s experience right or wrong. It’s simply bringing a fuller spectrum of possibilities to the table so that we, as women, can make more empowered choices around our birthing experiences.

I’m someone who’s always known that I’m going to be a mother. I’m grateful for women like Debra and my friend Sheila Kamara Hay, founder of Ecstatic Birth, who are reminding us that while birth is totally scary and messy and miraculous, there can be a thread of ecstasy within it. Whether you’re pregnant with a baby or a creative project, let this be a reminder to infuse your creations with pleasure. As I birth the project I’m cooking up (more on that later) I’m giving myself permission to feel the fear of it, to panic, and to grieve the ending of my life as I know it. And I’m also giving myself permission to dance, laugh, savor, notice and celebrate the many sparkling gems of joy in the process, and to find ecstasy in the birthing process.

What are you birthing right now?

What’s the scariest part of it?

What’s the most pleasurable part of it?

Share your thoughts on birth…we’re talking babies, books, paintings, business projects, etc…whatever you’re creating right now counts! Leave a comment.

Intrigued by the idea of infusing birth with a healthy dose of ecstacy?

If so, my friend Sheila Kamara Hay has just the thing for you. Intended for birth professionals and future parents, the upcoming Ecstatic Birth Tele-Summit has generated a lot of buzz, opening possibilities, and raising questions about the potential of childbirth. The purpose of the course is to raise awareness that birth is not just something women have to “endure” or “survive.” For the first time ever, leaders in the fields of birth and female sensuality– including Dr. Christiane Northrup and Ina May Gaskin — are coming together to share everything they know about how a woman can ENJOY birth — mind, body, and soul!

The idea of an “Orgasmic Birth” is definitely becoming more prominent. Women are coming forward to share stories that they might have been embarrassed to tell years ago. Many expectant moms also want to know how they can create this sort of experience for themselves. An orgasmic birth is intriguing because it is the antithesis of what we have culturally understood childbirth to be — a potentially excruciating experience.

That said, it is interesting to note how much of a trigger “sensuality” or “orgasm” can still be for a lot of people. A recent thread on Facebook included a woman declaring that the whole idea of pleasure during childbirth is “sick.” The more disconnected we are from our bodies, our sexuality, and our sensuality, the more perverse we might label the whole idea of pleasure in birth.

Saida Désilets, Taoist Sensual Educator and a featured teacher at the Ecstatic Birth Tele-Summit, describes our current situation as this: if human sexuality were a person, we, as a society, are currently stuck in its adolescence. There are few, if any, widespread and fully mature models of female sensuality in our culture. Instead, we are presented with a stark dichotomy of “virgins” and “whores.” In the most mature sense of the word and the aspect that we will be tapping into at the Tele-Summit, female sensuality is about a woman’s connection to herself, her body, and inner wisdom, and how that translates into her experience of the world around her — in this case, her experience of childbirth.

The physical pleasure of orgasm is only one end of the spectrum of what is possible in birth — dancing, laughter, spirituality, empowerment, connection, LOVE… all of these can be brought into birth and are strangely absent from most labor and delivery rooms. If you have the choice, why not prepare to ENJOY birth, rather than endure or survive it?

Cost is $600 if you register on or before October 15, 2010 (which is TODAY!). As my guest, please use the discount code: AUTHENTIKATE for an additional $150 off, bringing the price down to $450. Send us a referral who signs up and we’ll give you $50 off your registration after class starts!

Click here to register for the Ecstatic Birth Tele-Summit

*I am not an affiliate with Ecstatic Birth but I’m really proud to spread the word.*


  • “We are taught that suffering buys us something, that those who struggle the most are somehow worthier human beings, and that the only way to get anything done that’s worthwhile is to work your asses off.”

    Now why is this? I think this insight on your behalf is amazing. I also particularly liked the bit about how this movement is gentle and feminine, and how there’s a distinct difference. Recently read something along those lines @ The Red Tent Project website:

    All about the calling for women to lead because the energy surrounding change and the feminine is SO vastly different from mainstream leadership right now.

    LOVE it.

    Thanks again (and always) for the inspiring content Kate!


    • Kate

      Thanks Kathleen! So happy to be part of this movement with you…thanks for enrolling me to spread the word about Ecstatic Birth. I agree that the way things will change is not by fighting or pushing up against. It’s through inviting, seducing, and allowing. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  • I love this post … I had both of my children without any medicine or intervention and while I would not call the experiences orgasmic, they remain the two most empowering and intense things I’ve ever done. And sentences from your mother’s book ran through my head the whole time. I have great passion around this issue, a deep desire to help give birth back to women and to strip away the fear and “medicalization” of birth by both the medical establishment and the media today. It doesn’t have to be that way – it wasn’t for me. I am so deeply grateful for my births. xox

  • I think I’ve been in labor for the past year!

    I’ve been birthing a new business project in hopes of encouraging more people to take advantage of their local Farmer’s Markets. Though the gestation period has been extended (almost weekly!), I think I’m finally crowning!

    …Okay, the analogy is starting to get a bit too literal!

    The scariest part?
    Wondering if the new blog will actually direct people to my website, wondering if I’m doing this right, wondering if I’m breaking nettiquite rules…just the tip of the icebergh! The whole thing is scary! I’m moving towards making my passion my career, and I have no clue how it’ll turn out!

    The most pleasurable part?
    Reading the responses on my blog, and getting a better understanding of who I’m talking to; learning more and more about the technology I’m using and **this is a biggie** being able to use what I’ve learned to teach a friend about some of these technologies! That one made it to the top of my daily list of “5 Things I’m Grateful For”!

    I too have been surrounded by friends having kids of late, and their adventures in parenthood inspire me daily, to Just. Keep. Going.

    Thanks for helping me notice what’s delicious in life!

    • Kate

      Thanks so much for that amazing description of how you’re doing in the birthing process of your new project. Keep us posted Cat!

  • Karen Armstrong

    Love this post, Kate! Very timely for me because I’m currently expecting baby #1, heading into my 2nd trimester now. At 36, I’m both ecstatic and terrified at the idea of entering the world of motherhood – and more than little nervous about the birthing process itself. Trying to steer clear of the horror stories and instead focus on the beautiful act of nature that it is.

    Wishing you the best in birthing your new project!


    P.S. Like you, when I was in my late 20s (full swing into my Saturn Return) several of my girlfriends were getting married and starting to have babies. I was the “later bloomer” who married my soulmate life partner at 31 and kept the brakes on motherhood for a while. Enjoy witnessing the beauty of it with your girlfriends, and know that your time *will* come.

    • Kate

      Congratulations on the baby that’s on its way. So amazing! Thanks for your comment…I’m certainly in no hurry and have no doubt that my timing is perfect :)

  • First of all, dying to hear about this new project. I am loving all of your Glimpse TV episodes.

    You share a lot of wisdom on the trepidation of how birthing something new means total change. I don’t think I really got that until after I had my baby. And it was a shock.

    I think this project of Orgasmic Birth is so important. One of the reasons I consider having another baby is I want another chance at giving birth! Such a powerful and transformative rite of passage.

    Thanks for another provocative intelligent post!

  • Kate firstly I want to acknowledge YOU for all you are doing for women out there. Your spirit and authenticity are contagious and it is so refreshing and alive! I love this piece on birthing and love that you acknowledge that we are always birthing ‘something’, and as we do our world expands into new realities, and rightly so. I am such a woman who chooses to create in other ways, to help coach women to truly come to a place where they ’embrace and trust the powerful creator within’, no matter what the creation. In fertility, many women are learning how to bridge the gap between what it takes to live a fertile life, first, in order to plant the seeds of creation, or to allow creator to create through her. The journey is truly a rite of passage, isn’t it!? Anyway I feel you are really on to something, and we are called to touch a deeper part of ourselves to birth what really wants to be born, and to become fertile and potent as we step into that creation in all areas of our life. I am honored and grateful to be on such a path, and thank you for being out here with me touching so many beautiful lives! Blessings, Elisabeth

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