During Angela Gallo's second birth, she was determined to do things differently and make the experience as painless as possible — even if that meant masturbating during her contractions. Although many women can't imagine touching themselves during labor, let alone talking about it if they did, Angela is sharing her intimate story in the hopes of empowering other moms-to-be.
As Angela stood in the shower trying to ease her contractions, her husband offered to help. He had read that having sex during labor could help with the pain, but this doula and birth photographer from Australia turned him down — and took matters into her own hands, literally.
"I wanted my muscles to feel like I was working with them and not against them, so I tried to work with every ounce of energy, make every single contraction count," she told Woman's Day. "Touching myself took the edge off, helped me to focus, get clarity, and regain control over what I was feeling."
Angela had decided to labor at home for as long as possible before going to the hospital, but after six hours, she wasn't able to get in the car. An ambulance was called to transport her before she was ready to push, but the paramedics threatened to disturb the calm that she worked so hard to achieve. "I went from touching myself in the shower in an amazing zone and frame of mind, to then getting in the ambulance, forcing myself not to give birth. I could feel him about to come out. I literally held the baby in the whole time," she said. "I honestly think if the paramedics hadn't shown up I would've had the baby in the shower and had an orgasm."
Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital, Angela gave birth to her baby. She explained that masturbating in the shower at approximately nine centimeters dilated helped her to control her pain, feel connected to her body, stay focused, and feel safe. "We use it to cure headaches, when we have periods — it just makes sense — but it's taboo," she said. "We just can't put sex back into childbirth, which is counterproductive and counterintuitive to what women feel in this space."
Angela is sharing her experience to raise awareness for the potential of pleasure during delivery. She explained that during one of the births she attended, she witnessed a laboring mom self-stimulate with a vibrator and hopes that her story can be just as mind-opening to others as this was for her.
"Orgasmic birth doesn't need to be the way I did it; it comes in all shapes and forms, which is exciting because women of all walks of life can tap into it," Angela said. "And I'm not trying to undermine the women who do have difficult experiences; that's a reality. But [they usually] haven't had women tell them positive experiences. Was it challenging? Hell yes, absolutely. It's childbirth; it pushes you to the brinks of your physical limits. But it was awesome."