I am sitting with my doula over a cup of tea, talking about my last birth experience. We chuckle about the fact that in the hospital, whenever I said ‘Sir’ the midwives thought I said the Dutch word for hurt ‘zeer’. She puts down her cup. “You know, that’s not the only thing you said?” I don’t know anymore. I remember very little in fact – a wonderful gift of nature. My doula giggles. “I will never forget the shocked faces when you said ‘Oh god Master help me’”. I have to giggle too.

My doula is kink-aware. She knows that I am a submissive and my husband is my Dominant. Our doula knows we both chose for this alternative relationship style consensually and happily. She knows, it’s not like in Fifty Shades of Grey, And she has unique insight into how well my husband takes care of me. She’s not a kinkster herself. But she doesn’t judge, she doesn’t make us feel stigmatized. She giggles now and then – and I say, way to go.

The Importance of Kink-Aware Midwifery

There are few times in life as fragile and emotional as pregnancy. There are few moments in life as raw and intense as giving birth. I have never felt more vulnerable than in those first days with a newborn child.

Midwives and antenatal nurses are the closest to a new mother and her family than most other people. Often, closer than the immediate family and certainly friends. I believe it’s crucial for good patient care during and after pregnancy to understand what’s going on in a woman’s life.

From a physical perspective, it’s important that midwives learn about what BDSM techniques are safe during pregnancy – and which ones are not. So much is rather obvious.

But I often find that the mental challenges that come with pregnancy are even harder to tackle than the physical ones. And in order to feel safe giving birth. As a submissive, I feel safest when I am submitting and for me, that includes calling my husband by his honorifics – “Sir, Master..”. That includes that I can space out a bit when listening to him and ride out the pain.

For a positive birth experience, it was important for me that I didn’t have to spend energy on hiding that side. Pretending that we had a vanilla relationship. Or worse, have a conversation about feminism or domestic violence. So we decided to come out to our midwives.

  • My husband: We would like you to be aware that we are in an alternative relationship as dominant and submissive.
  • Midwife: Say what?
  • Me: Like, Fifty Shade of Grey you know, but then in a healthy and consensual way.
  • Midwife: <silence, question mark expression>
  • Doula giggles remarkably silently
  • My husband: So, this means that Sonja might address me as Sir or Master during labor and I might address her as girl. We would like to make sure you are comfortable with that and are happy to answer any questions you or your colleagues might have
  • Midwife: So, do we have to call you sir too?
  • My husband chuckles: No, that’s her only.
  • Me: Also, don’t worry, there won’t be any spanking during labor
  • Midwife looks shocked
  • Husband rolls eyes at me

Lesson learned: Don’t try to be funny when coming out. Seriously though, we had our D/s relationship documented in the birth plan too. Again, mainly because we didn’t want to have a discussion about it. We wanted to be free, ‘us’, and space to be happy about our newborn.

Kinksters & Pain Coping Mechanisms

There is a different aspect that midwives should be aware of though, and that’s the ability of submissives to cope with pain. Now, there are very few masochists who enjoy the type of pain that labor brings. (For kinksters: It’s beyond edge play, trust me ;P)

Having said that, even the wimpiest subs (read: me) have significantly more experience in coping with pain than the average vanilla lady. That also means when asking about pain scales that with a submissive, a midwife should take into account that subs might rate their pain experience lower than vanilla patients.

During antenatal care (which is brilliant in the Netherlands!), I was again very lucky to have a very open minded antenatal nurse. These nurses come to every Dutch household after birth for ten days to assist the parents with life-with-baby. That includes daily checkups for mother and child, but goes as far as cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry. Amazing, right?

During ramping up breastfeeding with my second daughter, I started having problems with painful nipples. Eventually, they started bleeding. The antenatal nurse called a lactation consultant. She asked me to nurse my daughter and assess the pain on a scale from 1-10. I said it was about 7, as my tears rolled down my cheeks. The lactation consultant was flabbergasted: “You are crying! That’s not a 7, that’s a 10.” I can still hear the antenatal nurse say: “Yes well she’s used to a bit.”

It turned out that my daughter had a lip tie. She was indeed destroying my nipples by not nursing right. We didn’t make it in time to avoid the mastitis that followed, but the help I got ensured I could breastfeed for as long as I wanted.

Good thing that I am not good at stopping tears. I know other subs who might not have flinched. Not putting a pain scale into perspective might have led to me nursing with bleeding nipples for much longer and maybe having to give up breastfeeding.

Education for Kink-Aware Midwives Is Lacking

Antenatal nurses and midwives are in their patients homes. They need to know the social context of their patients. And from the midwife’s perspective, they have to make sure that they are dealing with happy, healthy and consensual kink rather than domestic abuse.

Yet, education out there is scarce. If not non-existent. It leads to kink-oriented patients not daring to talk about their BDSM background, out of fear of stigma and judgment. And it leads to midwives and nurses who are not equipped to have a conversation and ask the right questions.

I believe this needs to change.

Lecture: The Psychology of Kink

I am very proud that boldpleasures hosts a lecture on just this topic for doctors, nurses, therapists, midwives and other medical professionals on the basics around kink. If you are in Amsterdam, join us live on September 4th, 2018 at 19.00.

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We’ll also offer the lecture online later this year, so make sure to sign up to our newsletter to hear when it’s launched.

Until then, stay safe, stay sane & ditch shame!

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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