Postpartum Relationship Management

(Originally posted on my website 6-1-09)

Your beautiful baby is now eight weeks old and precious.  Truly, everything is going well, except that you are incredibly sleep deprived and your partner misses you terribly.  The last time you strolled to Cafe Fiore and down the Golden Garden stairs together, you were in labor…And now it’s time for “relationship management.”

 It is normal for sex to be undesirable, scary, or the furthest thing from your mind in the postpartum period.  There is actually a physiological and evolutionary purpose behind your feelings.  The hormones that govern breastfeeding, prolactin and oxytocin, actually suppress reproductive hormones, like estrogen, which is responsible for women’s libido and also for vaginal lubrication.  The phenomenon of estrogen levels dropping off in the postpartum period is nature’s answer to birth control and child spacing. 

 Yet, the longer you wait to reconnect with your partner, the more difficult finding your way back to each other becomes.  “Relationship management” is a way to re-frame this process of reconnecting without judgment or responsibility in one person’s lap.  As you and your partner move through this time, there are a few ‘rules of thumb’.  Make sure you have had a visit with your maternity or primary care provider, and you have been given the go-ahead in terms of your physical recovery. 

You and your partner should sit together and talk about reconnecting, and be aware that you are embarking on a new relationship.  Your body and spirit are forever changed by the birth of your child, and the things that worked for you sexually before may be different now.  For many people this is an exciting time to regain power or a voice in your sexual relationship, or have it be the first time all over again….And whatever you do, remember the lube! 

For more postpartum resources and information about Dr. Sunita, please visit www.eastsidenaturalmedicine.com

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