A question appeared that asked about Pierced Suspension Play and pregnancy… safe? I thought it would make an awesome blog post, so here it is!
Visual Alert! For those not used to seeing Suspension Play, the pictures/videos can be jarring. Be aware of your cultural biases if you choose to Google what it is or looks like.
Background: I have been a part of the Kink community for 25 years, lifestyle (living it, not just playing at Dungeons or Play Parties). I have participated in a wide range of experiences from bondage to impact play to edge play (including needles and suturing). I have not been suspended, but it is a familiar experience in my own bio family as well as my kink family.
Suspension Play, pierced and otherwise, is part of the BDSM Scene… the Kink Scene. Suspension is one of the advanced experiences in the Scene. Those that partake may or may not be Pain Sluts. They may or may not do other advanced play such as needle play or brandings/cuttings. DO NOT ASSUME the person is merely looking for a higher high. Suspension, historically, has been used during religious ceremonies and has been used as Rites of Passage/Vision Quests in different cultures. In BDSM, the "goal" is the same; to push the body into sacred spaces... physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Now, for a pregnant body, the issues that come into play would be the elasticity of the skin (via hormones) and the bottom’s ability to withstand the experience without sustenance. If I were counseling a pregnant person considering being suspended, even if they were experienced, I would really encourage them to choose a Top that was very, very experienced… one who really knows the body’s strong spots… and will take extra caution with the shifting musculature. If the person has played this way several times, there will likely be scar tissue from previous suspensions. The Top will likely need to ignore where the body had been suspended before, instead, seeing the body as a first-time bottom… feeling where the hooks should be, how deep they need to slice through the skin, and then find their exit far enough from the entrance so the skin doesn’t rip when the body is lifted.
The set-up tends to be the longest part. Making sure the pregnant person is hydrated adequately is really important. Sie should be counseled/encouraged to call hir Safeword at any time sie feels (abnormally) light-headed, dizzy or confused. The Top should also check in regularly to make sure sie is doing well. This, of course, goes throughout the entire Session.
Those who do suspension play must be cautious of the body falling from any height. Injuries from falls must be prevented.
When one is suspended, it can last for an extended amount of time, sometimes hours. I would caution erring on the side of a shorter session than a longer one. Checking in and keeping hir hydrated is really important. Again, sie should call hir Safeword at any time, but it really is the Top’s job to gauge the Scene and bring the person down sooner than later.
That addresses the physical aspects of the Scene. Now, let me talk about the emotional/mental parts.
There are several descriptions/words that try to explain the high that comes from any kind of pain play. Subspace is a common word used. Flying is another one. We know, of course, that it is the rush of endorphins that flows through the body, giving one that awesome feeling of being in the presence of the enormity of life and floating on its wings. (As in birth, trying to describe the endorphin flow using words is extremely difficult. And woefully inadequate. My apologies for not being eloquent enough to describe it properly.)
In suspension, the endorphins are amazing and the world falls away. When this happens in birth, Nature takes the reigns, guiding the flow, bringing the endorphins out when needed, then gradually lowering them again after the birth so the birthing person can come back into their body/head to begin parenting. In a Scene such as suspension, there is no innate ebb and flow to signal the end of the Scene. It depends on a human decision. Because the bottom is often really fucked-up-high from the Scene, it becomes imperative that the Top call the Scene when the time seems right.
If I were doing pre-Scene negotiation with a pregnant person about to be suspended from hooks, I would ask hir to please keep a part of hir brain connected to the baby’s needs. Is the baby moving more or less than typically? Does the baby “feel” scared? Does the baby need to eat? If sie feels any weirdness from the baby, consider ending the Scene. If I was in charge of a Scene as a midwife, I might even check in on the baby with a Doppler periodically (one with headphones). Most people wouldn't consider it, but would be an added reassurance if desired.
After such an intense Scene, Aftercare will be of extreme importance. Don’t let the pregnant person walk alone after being brought down and moved to an Aftercare site. Makes sure there is juice on hand. Have a glucometer handy in case sie needs to check blood glucose for hypoglycemia if sie’s shaking (or is it from the Scene itself?). When sie can eat, carb and protein snacks periodically will be really helpful.
How would I counsel a pregnant person who came to me asking about Pierced Suspension? I would first ask why sie was wanting to do it. Is it a spiritual need? An endorphin desire? The rare opportunity presenting itself? Exploring why can help hir make a conscious decision to move forward or not.
If sie hadn’t ever done it before, or only a couple of times, I would encourage waiting until after the pregnancy (and maybe even nursing) to do it. We still don’t know enough about the effects of stress hormones on pregnancy, labor, birth or breast feeding.
I might suggest a more mild type of play… needle play, for example, which can bring on the delightful endorphins as well, without the massive intensity of suspension.
Reminder! With any blood play, BE SAFE! Discuss health history, Hepatitis/STI/HIV status, have brand new/sterilized needles/hooks for each insertion, disinfectant/alcohol at the ready, sterile gauze to staunch bleeding, an emergency kit with supplies to revive some who has fainted and a phone close by to call EMS if more help is needed. It’s always a good idea to have a medic-type person specified for intense Scenes so they aren’t involved in the Scene itself and can watch with a more detached view of the Scene.
If I am missing something, let me know! Email me at NavelgazingMidwife@gmail.com