Embodying Your Clitoral Complex in Birth
Submitted by: Nekole Shapiro
My name is Nekole Shapiro and I am the Creatrix of Embodied BIRTH. Embodied BIRTH brings people into their birthing bodies. For some this helps them have more empowered birthing experiences. For some it helps them recover power they lost in past birthing experiences. For still others it allows them to reclaim their passion for birth work. For many, it does all of the above and more.
I teach birth embodiment because vibrating in every cell in my body is a deep desire for women to have empowered birthing experiences. I desire empowered birthing experiences not only because I know how great they feel and want more people to feel great, but also because empowered births create empowered mothers. I would love to see a society of fully empowered mothers raising fully empowered children!
When I say power, it is not just a word coming from my lips; I actually feel it in my body. We all know the adage knowledge is power and many of you reading this article have way more birth knowledge than I do. My somewhat provocative question is this: can you feel this knowledge? I’m guessing you can tell me all about the uterus, but can you feel yours in your body while you tell me about it? Can you connect with how it changes from day to day? Can you feel when your uterus swells just a bit in response to the basal temperature increase that comes with the luteal phase of your cycle? Can you feel if it tightens or pulsates or quivers a bit while you orgasm? Can you simply close your eyes and bring your attention to your uterus inside your body and have a conversation with it? The moment you do any of these things, you are embodied! When you can connect what you learn with what you feel, you have embodied knowledge and that is some serious power! When we have embodied knowledge we are much better prepared to let a care provider know what is working for us. We feel empowered to say, “That hurts, don’t do it again!” or “No, I don’t think I need Pitocin, my body is doing great on it’s own.” Or in one story relayed to me by a very educated and embodied mama, she pushed her baby’s head out and then instinctively jumped out of her birth tub, contorted her body in just the right way, felt her baby’s shoulder dislodge and her baby slid right out.
The above are examples of embodying our birthing parts and of how beneficial doing so can be. Let’s go further shall we? Let’s bring our focus to the birth canal. You do not need to be a birth worker to know that when most people think of a baby passing through a birth canal they think of it as this huge thing squeezing through this tiny hole. As many of us know, it is not at all that simple. This is an example of some greatly misguided education that sadly continues to propagate itself every day. In fact, the birth canal was made to open up and supportively guide a new life as it enters into the world. I can share this knowledge with you if I show you a picture of vaginal wall tissue and point out that it folds upon itself much like intestinal tissue so as to allow for a great deal of spreading. But there is nothing like embodied knowledge to really understand. And how do we get embodied knowledge of this? (Oh yes!) Put your own finger inside your own birth canal and feel around. You cannot miss the squish! (Yes! I did go there!) The walls of our birth canals are extremely pliable. Feel the squish, the give and the shocking amount of tissue there? A tiny little finger could really get lost in there. This is because it was not designed only to accommodate a finger, or a penis for that matter. It was designed to accommodate a baby!
Part of Embodied Birth’s online curriculum is a class entitled: Clitoral Revelations: The Secret Structures of the Birth Canal. If just the mucosa of the birth canal is misunderstood by most, you can image that the tissue underlying that mucosa is even more misunderstood. Ironically, this is the tissue that truly can make the difference between pain and pleasure. Many refer to it as the clitoral complex. I refer to it as tissue rich with sensational opportunity! I am referring to an elaborate network of nervous and erectile tissue that makes its way around most of the circumference and depth of the birth canal. The more engorged this network gets, the more of the birth canal it will encase and the plumper the tissue, the greater our access to pleasure.
In a bit I will be taking you on a tour of all this beautiful tissue. But first I want to give you an idea of why this material is particularly important for birth workers. I will explain by telling my story. In my first birth I did not have comprehensive knowledge let alone comprehensive embodied knowledge of my birth canal at all. Not to say that I knew nothing, but far from what I know now! When I inquired with my Obstetrician about the possibility of gaining some embodied knowledge by doing perineal massage she told me, “the literature shows [perineal massage] doesn’t actually help in birth.” Thinking of course that my doctor knew more than I did about how my body worked, I just ended it there. I can say with great sadness and a hint of rage that I did not enjoy the passing of my first baby through my birth canal at all! I was barely embodied and most certainly did not feel empowered. The experience was frightening and I placed all my decisions in the hands of my doctor. On the other hand, by my second birth I knew the material so well I was teaching it. I worked both on my book knowledge and my embodied knowledge. By time I got to my birth I felt fully embodied and empowered in my birth canal! And as my second baby passed through me, the sensations were beyond any bliss I could have ever imagined. It opened me up to a pallet of sensations that I am more than happy to re-experience on a regular basis. I truly believe a big part of what made this possible started with simply (but not always easily) having the courage to really get to know my birthing parts. This is one of the many reasons I have created Embodied Birth. Bliss is our birthright and I want to help more people experience it!
To read the full article please visit: Embodying the Clitoral Complex in BIRTH.
[i] Helen E. O’Connell, Kalavampara, V, Sanjeevan, and John M. Hutson. “Anatomy of the Clitoris”. The Journal of Urology, Volume 174, October, 2005, pp. 1189-1195.
[ii] Flam, Faye (2006-03-15). “The Seattle Times: Health: Gee, women have … a prostate?”. seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
Nekole Shapiro has been described as a super-natural amalgam of skills and experiences. She is a second-generation birth/body worker/educator and grassroots organizer. Nekole studied pre-medical science and cultural anthropology at Columbia University in NYC. She has practiced meditation and yoga since she was a child and has decades of performing arts experience. She is the mother of two, has spent 18 years in Hawaii, 15 years in NYC and 5 years in Seattle. When she attended her first birth as a doula, she knew the purpose of all she had done before. Quickly, her unique background melted together into a curriculum and approach to the perinatal period like none other. She has had the pleasure of teaching in line-ups including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin and other powerhouse birth educators. She is a regular speaker at such venues as Babeland Seattle, Birth and Beyond and the Center for Sex Positive Culture. Her written materials have been in such publications as SQUAT and ICEA. Many seek her skills, knowledge and approach. Nekole teaches through online classes at www.embodiedbirth.com, in person in Seattle (with remote access) and as she travels. She is available for in-person sessions locally in Seattle or remotely via Skype or phone. A small warning…… Nekole has been known to change lives!