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Birth & Sex: The Power and the Passion [Paperback]

Sheila Kitzinger
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Oct 2012
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.

Frequently Bought Together

Birth & Sex: The Power and the Passion + The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing + Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd.; 1 edition (23 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780660502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780660509
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sheila Kitzinger M.B.E, M.Litt is a social anthropologist of birth and author of 24 books published internationally, most on the emotional journey through this major life experience. At Oxford in the 50s she discovered that the social anthropology of that time was almost entirely about men. She decided she would do research to discover what was important in women's lives, and focused on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Her five children were all born at home. She lectures widely in different countries and has learned from mothers and midwives in the USA and Canada, the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, Latin America, South Africa and Japan, and from women in prison and those who have had a traumatic birth experience.
Her recent books include The New Experience of Childbirth, Understanding Your Crying Baby, Politics of Birth, Birth Crisis and the updated classic The New Pregnancy and Childbirth: Choices and Challenges.
Her website is

Product Description

About the Author

Sheila Kitzinger M.B.E is a social anthropologist of birth and author of 24 books published internationally and lives near Oxford, England. She lectures widely and has learned from mothers and midwives across the world, from women in prison and those who have had a traumatic birth experience.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chaos & Glory 2 Nov 2012
By K. Hall
I bought Birth & Sex after hearing Sheila Kitzinger speak with an energetic passion that belies her frailty, a few weeks ago; the talk was part revision of the history of obstetrics, and many parts eye-opener.

A few days later I read on a skeptical website a description of orgasmic birth as "the ultimate first world problem": making women feel guilty for not having an orgasm during labour. It's that familiar argument that informing people about how things could be is mistaken for setting impossible aspirational targets for all women. Throughout the book, Kitzinger dips into history, revealing how birth has become depersonalised, the mother and her needs sidelined, and the only goal a healthy baby.

After a fascinating chapter on genital anatomy and an exploration of sex in pregnancy, she goes on to explain the processes that impact on a woman's experience of labour. She is not telling women that they should have an orgasm during birth, any more than that they should have an orgasm every time they have sex; but describing conditions which it is often in the woman's power to create, that allow her to behave spontaneously. In fact the comparison with having sex is instructive, since goal-oriented sex is likely to be less satisfying than loving, fun, comfortable, spontaneous and uninhibited sex, all of which are applicable to birth.

Kitzinger shows how other cultures celebrate birth movements, for example in north african bellydancing; but how the gradual introduction of a bed into the birth environment forces women to accept a more passive role, and has gradually led to a production line approach, "without wasting doctors' time, and free of any female emotions that might complicate the process." [p.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening and empowering 30 Aug 2013
Once I started this book I couldn't put it down. Much of what Sheila Kitzinger has written resonates with my own experience of childbirth - the good and bad parts.
`Birth and Sex' examines the close links between these two experiences, with Kitzinger demonstrating how Western society has lost sight of this, eschewing instinctive, natural and ecstatic childbirth in favour of highly medicalised, interventionist, maternity care (active management). The book explores how active management of labour has a negative psycho-physical impact on women - labouring women are made to feel that their feelings are irrelevant, that they don't understand their own bodies; instead childbirth must proceed according to set times and any deviation from this schedule will most likely result in intervention e.g. episiotomy, hormone drip, forceps, epidural, caesarean. Some of the stories Kitzinger recounts read like scenes from a B horror movie - it's sad and shocking that women are living through these traumatic experiences in what should be one of the happiest moments of their lives.
Thankfully people like Sheila Kitzinger, Ina May Gaskin and Janet Balaskas are helping to empower women to push for the childbirth that they and their children deserve. A fascinating book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing book 28 Jan 2013
By efm
This book is thorough and well researched yet very very readable and accessible for all. Sheila Kitzinger dips into, and draws on many different areas of knowledge and research, history and cross cultural perspectives and manages to put it all together in a book that will inform and inspire women (and hopefully a few men!). I think the books appeal goes far beyond pregnancy and raises important questions about our society. An absolute must read for healthcare providers as well as childbearing women.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Body sensations 29 Nov 2012
This book is a rediscovery of a deeply instinctual act as well as a rediscovery of when, how and why birth has become medically managed. It empowers women to be the creator of their own experience. Making birth as pleasurable as it can be, without expectations. It is about channelling the energy and letting your body experience its sensations rather than wanting to achieve an orgasm. The book also has a practical section with plenty of suggestions for active labour. Only a wonderfully experienced child birth educator such as Sheila Kitzinger could have put so much content into a such concise book. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did ☺
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By Alyson
Format:Kindle Edition
I have to admit that I didn't initially find this book an easy read - but I think the reason I found it a struggle is also paradoxically the reason I ultimately liked it so much. The book is packed full of information, in intricate detail, and well backed up with research findings and history. I felt it was an extremely comprehensive book covering all of the major issues surrounding women and childbirth today. I found it enlightening as a woman and mother and found it helpful in processing my own experiences of birth.
My favorite chapter was 'Birth & Language' as I have always felt that the very language we use around birth and the pregnant woman is quite negative and combative.
I love that the importance of relationship is highlighted and the need for the birthing mother to feel completely secure during the birthing process and able to let go. One thing that struck me that was briefly touched on in the book was the impact of the woman's life experience and the need for secure and responsive birth and care in her own childhood that would in my opinion have a considerable impact upon her ability to maintain the security and peace that would result in such a positive birth experience.
After a slow start I really enjoyed this book and I feel much more informed and empowered after reading it. Would definitely recommend!
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