One of the questions I get asked most often when I tell people about Ecstatic Birth is-
“Can you do this with an Epidural?”
The short answer is “Yes.”
The long answer involves a discussion around consciousness and nerve endings.
Ecstasy is a state of rapture that includes emotional, physical, and spiritual components. In childbirth, this is most likely when a woman operates from a place of consciousness and empowerment.
This can definitely include the decision to allow interventions as long as a woman is making that decision from a fully informed perspective, eyes wide open and connected to her own personal truth and inner wisdom. (Like in this story about an ecstatic c-section)
There are many potential consequences associated with using the epidural. If a woman is not aware of these and chooses an epidural by default rather than conscious choice, she can feel victimized by her birth. This will only serve to reinforce any negative conceptions about childbirth.
However, if a woman is fully aware of what it means to get an epidural and the possible consequences and chooses it regardless- then her decision is conscious. It is fully what she believes is right for her. From that place, ecstasy on emotional and spiritual levels are still very much possible with the birth of her child.
On a physical level, the epidural definitely inhibits ecstasy. When you numb sensation you numb all sensation, good and bad. A birthing body may very well serve up some delicious sensations, but the laboring woman would never know. The possibility of ecstasy on a physical level is lost.
I recently spoke with a woman who birthed twice with an epidural in a hospital. The second time her labor lasted so long that the epidural had worn off by the time she was pushing her baby out. She was shocked and embarrassed to experience multiple orgasms while giving birth. In retrospect, she believed that she had orgasmed both times she birthed, but she hadn’t recognized it the first time because of the epidural.
I love her story because it so clearly illustrates how numbing your pain really numbs your pleasure as well.
Now I will share that this woman identifies herself as extremely orgasmic in general, so her body is trained to easily react to genital stimulation with pleasure. This is why I am such a fan of this orgasmic training for women in preparation for pregnancy. We discuss training for pleasure on all levels in the Ecstatic Birth Training Sessions.
The bottom line on the epidural is this- You can definitely choose to have an epidural and still experience ecstasy in birth. However, if you want to maximize your potential for ecstasy in birth on all levels, including physical, it is best to allow your body to feeeeel every delicious drop of birth in all of its primal intensity and rock with that!