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Why Some Women Are Choosing to Masturbate During Childbirth (Really)

Jenn is perhaps best known as the author of the popular parenting blog Breed ‘Em and Weep (2005-2012). She’s written for many magazines, newspapers and websites, including Brain, Child Magazine, Literary Mama, and The Boston Globe. Jenn’...

Could your own hands be better than an epidural?

Angela Gallo, a doula and birth photographer from Australia, is not a shy woman.

According to Popsugar, during her second birth, she decided to try to ease the pain of childbirth by doing something... unexpected. What does that mean, exactly? Well, quite simply, Gallo masturbated during her contractions. And she's happy to talk about her experience in hopes of inspiring and empowering other laboring women to, um, take matters into their own hands.

Angela, I salute you (super-shyly) for being so frank about your experience. To each her own when it comes to labor, I say. No judgment, whatsoever.

But while I would never judge another woman for how she chooses to approach a very personal, very painful thing like giving birth to another human being, I can say that Gallo's approach probably wouldn't be for me. I would very likely have slugged my girls' dad had he offered to get frisky during my contractions. I'm just saying. And special private time was (again, for me) the furthest thing from my mind — frankly, I was just trying not to poo in the birthing tub. But am I intrigued by Gallo's story? Hell, yeah.

More: This mom's birth was totally orgasmic — literally

Gallo spoke to Woman's Day about her unusual birth experience. She was in the shower hoping to get some pain relief when her husband generously offered to have sex with her (in his defense, he'd read that this could help with the pain of labor).

Gallo said thanks but no thanks. She had another plan.

"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 said. "Touching myself took the edge off, helped me to focus, get clarity, and regain control over what I was feeling."

After laboring at home for six hours, Gallo was transported to the hospital by ambulance before it was time to push — and the transition wasn't helpful, because Gallo was in the zone.

"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," Gallo said. "I honestly think if the paramedics hadn't shown up I would've had the baby in the shower and had an orgasm."

"I would have had the baby in the shower," is a sentence you might expect to stumble across. "I would have had the baby in the shower and had an orgasm," is definitely a much more interesting sentence, and one we've never seen before.

More: What the hell is "orgasmic birth"?

Clearly, Gallo is one badass fertility goddess. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital, her baby was born. She attributes the shower masturbation at nine centimeters with providing a huge boost in calm, pain-controlling hormones. She thinks we all need to get over our squeamishness about sex and childbirth — after all, the two are related, right?

"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."

Gallo isn't the only mom to go the self-pleasuring route during childbirth. In fact, Angela herself (in doula mode) saw one mom use a vibrator to stay in a happy place.

"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," Gallo 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."

Angela, you are awesome. And a little intimidating. But in a really cool way.

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