Guest Writers

The Role of the Erotic in Pregnancy and Women’s Health

The Role of the Erotic in Pregnancy and Women’s Health

Maria Freytsis | June 07, 2019 | 7 min. read

Over the past 5 years I hope to have added value to your life and sexuality through the medium of pornography by creating porn for women on XConfessions. Now I want to help contribute towards a bigger change by inviting experts to share their knowledge and opinions on various topics across sexuality, sex, porn, fetish and kink, women’s sexual health, relationships, human rights, female pleasure and more!

Pregnancy is a common and intense event experienced by many women, trans and non-binary people. While pregnancy comes up in private and public conversations often, discussions around pregnancy sex and the sexuality of parents-to-be are notably absent. As a mother and adult movie director I have wanted to address this for a long time and I’m happy to announce that on June 20 I will be releasing an explicit sex documentary about sex and pregnancy featuring adult performer Tiffany Doll & her husband Bruno. In the upcoming weeks, the Erika Lust Blog will host a number of highly experienced women’s health and sexuality professionals to discuss everything around the topic of Pregnancy & Sexuality. From safer sex during pregnancy, to pelvic floor health, changing body images, BDSM during pregnancy, mental health and the power of eroticism.

In this introductory article, expert Maria Freytsis writes about her experiences as a midwife and why she thinks the relationship between a woman and her sexual self is crucial not just in childbearing but for women’s health over a lifetime.

Birth is an expression of our most primal being. I love to see a birthing woman move, sway, moan, cry, and howl, as she powerfully moves pain, intense sensation, and emotion to bring new life through her body. As a nurse and midwife, I’ve spent over 20 years caring for pregnant women and families and holding space for these moments – some of the most intimate and formative experiences in the lives of women. The inward focus, calm, control, physical opening, and superhuman strength that women summon during labor and birth are awe-inspiring. Women giving birth are at their most elemental and simultaneously, at their most powerful and vulnerable.

Birth is raw and tender. Birth is sexual. The link between the way a woman relates to her body and her sexuality and the way that she navigates the challenges of pregnancy, birth, and transition to motherhood, has always been clear to me. In my experience, women who are able to use that sexual energy during birth are the ones to describe their birth as empowering, and move more freely through the wild emotional and physical transformations that pregnancy and postpartum bring. It is my deep desire to see more women access their sexual power in birth, as well as every other aspect of their lives.

A strong, positive relationship with the erotic self is fundamental to empowerment in many areas of life and integral to women’s overall health and well-being. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as “not just the absence of disease or dysfunction, but a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well being in relation to sexuality”. The American writer, poet, and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde, wrote about the erotic as power. She described the ways in which women’s eroticism has been suppressed and how connecting with it generates power in all aspects of women’s lives. She also warned about conflating eroticism with “pornography” which has historically been representations of sex through a particularly narrow male perspective. Accessing erotic power is difficult and not intuitive for many women, especially during pregnancy, as social norms dictate that pregnant women should disconnected from their desires. Girls and women are not taught to explore and rejoice in their bodies, honor their emotional tides, and cultivate those things in their lives that bring them pleasure. In fact, the opposite is true. In these modern times, women, across borders and cultures, have been taught to value self-sacrifice, suppress their emotions, dislike and mistrust their bodies, and feel ashamed of their fantasies and their sexuality. It’s no wonder that so many women fear the primal and sexual elements of pregnancy and birth.

The relationship between a woman and her sexual self is crucial not just in childbearing but for women’s health over a lifetime. But this relationship is fragile, and it evolves over a lifetime as well. From a historical perspective, the repression of female sexuality is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Erika Lust gives a brief history in her book, Good Porn, including examples of ways that female sexuality was consistently celebrated in many ancient cultures. Yet, in our time, female sexuality is seen as something to be kept quiet, something other, and not recognized as an integral part of women’s well-being. Most women have much to overcome and un-learn from their initiation into patriarchal culture in order to step into their power as sexual beings. This is not surprising since sexual and intimate partner violence affects 35-70% of women globally during the course of a lifetime (according to UN Women). Shame lives in the body, and women’s bodies are filled with it from the time they are young girls. Many women have physical and emotional traumas that they must overcome in order to fully embody their sexuality. Some women never have the opportunity to address this trauma or question the shame and the roles that patriarchal norms have forced them to assume. To start this questioning, women need tools that will help them access their imagination, overcome the taboos linked to female sexuality, and connect with and nurture their erotic fantasies. They need to know that their sexual and intimate lives matter. Since many women will access health care for the first time, or more consistently during pregnancy, it’s a perfect opportunity for health care providers to support women in achieving optimal sexual health. This can involve addressing a wide spectrum of issues from mental health, to pelvic floor function, to body image, and changes in libido. Creating an open dialogue during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period that allows women to share openly as sexual beings establishes a strong foundation for integrated health and well-being far beyond the childbearing years.

Feminist erotic film, and the broader genre of ethical pornography, is opening a world where women can explore erotic fantasy in a way that is more aligned with female pleasure as well as women’s values. Erotic film is just one of many tools that support exploration of sexual fantasy – that powerful use of the imagination that leads us to discern our true desires in the realm of bodily pleasure, sexual connection, and intimate relationships. This month’s film brings the perspective of a pregnant erotic film star as she navigates the changes of pregnancy and talks frankly about her hopes, fears, and desires for the birth of her baby as well as the integrity of her intimate relationship with her partner and her perception of cultural norms and expectations regarding pregnancy and birth. The blog series accompanying this film aims to go deeper into the themes of sexuality during pregnancy by providing perspectives from women’s health and sexuality professionals who desire to see every woman wield the power of the erotic in support of her optimal health and well-being.

Maria Freytsis, CNM, MPH is an NYC-based midwife who has had the honor and joy of providing healthcare to women during some of the most important transitions of their lives such as adolescence, pregnancy, birth, and menopause for the last 20+ years. ... Read More
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