Why I Write About Birth and Sex by Sheila Kitzinger

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Birth & Sex: The Power and the Passion is a Revolutionary Book from one of my favorite authors who has shaped our/my views of childbirth around the world – Sheila Kitzinger. Her latest book takes us deeper into the issues at stake when we view the natural process of childbirth as a part of a woman’s sexual life. Birth & Sex will transform the way women prepare for birth and the way society respects, care for and provides comfort to women in this most memorable day of her life! ~ Debra Pascali-Bonaro

Why I Write About Birth & Sex by Sheila Kitzinger

I was in a state of postnatal euphoria in February 1963. My fourth child was newborn. Like the others, it had been a homebirth – and she was in bed beside me in a room scented with hyacinths, in our cottage outside Oxford. I decided that I wanted to write about the joy of birth, and help other women discover it.

Polly was waking at around five in the morning for a breastfeed and then lay contentedly on the bed gazing around at her new world. So I started to write The Experience of Childbirth. Writing early in the morning, in the first light of dawn, has stayed a habit – a quiet, peaceful time when my mind is still rich with waking thoughts, ideas, phrases. That first draft only took me six weeks. Then I read it through aloud (that was important, I think, because I wanted to speak to women in my own voice, not to harangue them), and amended it over another few weeks.

3827573065_cdf3564c35_oThe challenge I faced was to create a language to convey the multi-faceted sensations of labour and birth, physical and emotional, to find words for the rush of energy as contractions squeezed the uterus, and the power that built mountains was released in your body – for the feeling as the baby’s head crowned as if in a ring of fire, and the birth passion.

P2P_IMAGE 02I have been criticised for describing birth-giving in terms of sex, imposing on women a compulsory sexual performance – birth with orgasm. But for me personally it was an intense psycho-sexual experience. This is not surprising, since both childbirth and lactation involve the same hormones as in sexual arousal.

That is the focus of this new book. In Birth and Sex I explore the complexity and depth of female sexuality. Sex and birth are to do with the sense of self-worth, joy in the power of our bodies, and freedom to express ourselves through them.

Sheila Kitzinger 1929-2015


Birth IS sexual.

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About the book (from Pinter & Martin Publishers): Birth and sex are often talked about as if they were contrasting experiences. In fact, they each involve the same rush of hormones in an action drama in which mind and body work in harmony. When a woman is free to follow her instincts and give birth naturally, waves of endorphins surge in the bloodstream with the same energy as in ecstatic lovemaking. Birth and sex mingle to become one in the thrilling, sweet, intense and overwhelming experience of creation. / Yet in the Western high-tech birth culture the environment often inhibits the spontaneity of birth, resulting in pain and distress. Pregnancy and birth are de-sexed and treated as medical conditions. Women are turned into objects on which doctors act. / In this compelling and controversial new book Sheila Kitzinger explores the complexity and depth of female sexuality during pregnancy, birth, and after the baby comes. She shows what can be done to create an environment in which a woman is able to trust her instincts and be confident in her body. By rediscovering the power and passion in our bodies, we can reclaim the spontaneity and sexual ecstasy of childbirth.

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