Going into labor, most women would agree, is not much fun. But for Amber Hartnell of Hawaii, childbirth offered "the most overwhelming pleasure I have ever felt in my life"—a 4-hour sexual climax. As the Guardian reports, she's one of the women in a recent documentary on "orgasmic birth," in which waves of pleasure overwhelm the pain of delivery.
Many of the physiological processes that accompany labor, such as the release of oxytocin and endorphins, also happen during sex. Doctors and midwives debate whether the women who say they've climaxed during labor have experienced a true orgasm or are merely indulging in a form of masochistic pleasure. Either way, professionals point out that expectant mothers can't force a painful experience to become pleasure. "The orgasm is a side effect," said one advocate, "not the goal."