Emily Street had what she describes as a "euphoric" experience during and after she gave birth—and she credits hypnobirthing for this. But can this practice actually influence the sensations associated with childbirth?
Pregnant women might hear British midwife Emily Street's childbirth experience and feel way less terrified—and maybe even venture toward excited—about the physical experience of giving birth. After all, Street described the aftermath of delivering all four of her children as "euphoric." The mama also claimed she didn't feel pain while she was in labor—she described her contractions as "pleasurable." She likened the feeling of actually giving birth to a climax of sorts....much like, well, an orgasm.
So we know what you're thinking: Is Street just one of those rare, insanely lucky women who had incredible experiences with childbirth? According to the mom, who shared her experience with SELF, it's not about luck—she credited her blissful labors to hypnobirthing.
We spoke with OB/GYN Kameelah Phillips, M.D. to hear more about how hypnobirthing works and, more importantly, if it can take away the pain of childbirth and replace it with something far more enjoyable. Her verdict? Well...it's complicated.
"I'm not sure if there's any technique or intervention that can truly make labor painless," Dr. Phillips said. "Women have different degrees of pain and interpret them differently—but I have seen some women who use hypnobirthing techniques, and they certainly help them stay in control a little bit better. They still do experience pain, but it helps them reimagine that pain. [They] call the contractions "surges" or "energies" and they don't describe them as painful. It's certainly helpful...they reimagine it in their heads in a way to help them experience it differently."
As for those euphoric feelings Street experienced in the postpartum period, those aren't out of the question either. "There is certainly a postpartum high some women experience. It's a combination of excitement, relief, oxytocin (which some people describe as a "love hormone") and sleep deprivation, which can create a postpartum high," Dr. Phillips said. "As far as her orgasm, I have heard that before—not so much as a constant orgasm, but because there's so much blood flow around the pelvic region, women often experience orgasms easier or more frequently."
Hypnobirthing is similar to meditation, according to Dr. Phillips, and it helps women internalize the experience of childbirth and reimagine the pain—though it probably won't take away your pain as such, it may help you reframe your perspective of it.
"This can be a really helpful strategy for women who are trying to avoid medication, but it has to be something that you're committed to. If women still experience pain, it doesn't mean they've failed at hypnobirthing. It is, unfortunately, part of the experience," Dr. Phillips said. "This orgasm thing is really rare, so don't feel [like you] didn't reach the pinnacle of birthing experience if it doesn't happen."