Here is the outline of a presentation I gave today to a Holistic Moms Group in Mesa/East Valley, AZ:
Intimacy and sexuality After Child Birth
Cynthia Djengue, BA, MSW, CHHC, AADP, RM
Within three years of their child’s birth, about 70 percent of couples experience a significant slump in their relationship quality, according to the Gottman Relationship Institute.
Childbirth will inevitably cause Sex, Marriage and Relationship Issues:
- the first child brings the most changes
- good communication will help
- expect 6 weeks for healing
- create a schedule based on baby’s sleeping cycle, feeding cycle, chores.
- Work as a team, otherwise resentment can build up. Instead of arguing, simply lower your expectations and know that a huge change is coming. This is especially hard for stay-at-home mothers who tend to “do-it-all.” Try to enlist help of nieces, sisters, friends. Use the HMN group and see if there are volunteers that are willing to help a new mother.
ISSUES TO CONSIDER:
- SLEEP – losing sleep, change in cycles, not wanting to wake baby, breastfeeding.
- ANATOMY – sensitive nipples, c sections, vaginal tears
- SEX DRIVE – can increase or decrease
- HORMONES – hormone changes after childbirth continue
- BODY IMAGE – breasts and stomach, hips, thighs can all change permanently.
- CULTURE/COMMUINICATION – how well do you communicate? how were you raised? what differences do you bring to the relationship/marriage?
- DO YOU LOVE YOURSELF? – It is difficult to love someone and bring your whole self to your relationship if you cannot love yourself completely. Loving self will affect communication, ability to open up self, see the good in other, respond to other’s needs, and permit yourself pleasure and time for it.
Here’s what women had to say about what helped intimacy issues after childbirth:
- Talking with your partner about the changes and demands brought about by life with a new baby, and how you will deal with these demands as a couple
- Sharing the responsibility for the emotional and physical aspects of parenting equitably (or almost equitably) with your partner
- Getting time to yourself, away from the bab
- Taking time out to reconnect as a couple
- When resuming a sexual relationship, taking things slowly, and not feeling pressured to rush into it
- Agreement between partners on whether or not sex is currently a priority
- Knowing what’s ‘normal’ and that what you’re going through is not ‘abnormal’
- Having a trusted health professional to talk to about sex and relationships
- And for some women, giving priority to sex even when they were exhausted or would rather be doing something else was helpful.
It is actually easier to have sex when children are babies and toddlers instead of when they get older. Suggestions: soundproof walls, have bed away from children’s wall, family bed is only for sleeping, find unique times to have sex, unique places, have date nights, schedule regular bed times and enforce bed time. Kids will appreciate their parents being intimate – it will make them feel more secure about their parent’s marriage. They may say “gross” or make comments.
A response I wrote on the HMN Forum www.holisticmoms.net to kids playing doctor and childhood sexuality:
Here are some links, below, for book reviews and more thoughts. I personally think stories are good for this age. I remember my mother sitting us down with scientific pictures around 7 or 8 years old and trying to explain our parts. I don’t remember if it was because my brother and I were found to be exploring one another or not (which is also very normal). I find myself saying private parts to my daughter but I also like the term, good touch or bad touch, and not touching in the “bathing suit area.” My sister and I discussed this and a child can decide if they liked or didn’t like the experience and will let us know. But, don’t think a 4 or 5 year old won’t lie about the details because they do have the capability of doing that, as well as knowing to do this exploration and playing doctor stuff in private. We also have the right to set up boundaries.
My sister, a daycare and preschool owner, had a 5 year old boy who constantly masturbated and they could not get him to stop so they asked him to do it somewhere privately. Then he decided the bathroom was private but the other kids had to use the bathroom and he would be in there so that became a problem too. Each child is unique but once they get into school or particular parents or officials come into the picture, that is when these situations get more difficult.
The key is to normalize and normalize. If and when another parent disagrees or becomes uncomfortable, (which they already do with most of our choices – vaccinations, co-sleeping, how we eat, how we vote, etc), we simply have to listen with empathy and kindness and pay attention to their feelings rather than their politics. It is also important to put the children as the main focus instead of our adult feelings – “Well, I guess Sally and John have learned something about their bodies today,” or “Let’s make sure we all continue to communicate about our bodies and what does or doesn’t feel like good touch.”
There are no hard and fast rules in my opinion. If a child is oral, or uses objects, for instance, that doesn’t mean the child is advanced or has been abused but the conversation afterwards will certainly clue you in on if you need to get professional help. But, it is hard to accept because it seems… sexual. In the case of an older child with a younger child, as you mentioned, it does indeed happen. I don’t think four years is any significant indicator of abuse, rather, how did each party feel after the incident. An older child may not be as emotionally developed – I worked with a child like this once. He was 14 and was so interested in sex and could not find an outlet. He began to become physical with his cousin which concerned the grandmother and she wanted to him have a safe outlet but there wasn’t one she could think of. She asked about giving him porn magazines and I examined her motives for that. The fact was, he was physically ready to find an outlet for his sexuality but he did not have an object for that curiosit as his physical age didn’t match his emotional age. Thus, girls his age were not attracted to him. It was a tough situation. Was he abusing his cousin? No. There was a lot of discomfort in the household. Our society is not well suited for childhood sexuality.
With that said, here are some links for articles, books and reviews:
The book, It’s Perfectly Normal, http://robieharris.com/?page_id=186
And, if you have time, you can read through some of these very honest posts about what people remember about their sexual experiences as children, http://www.dreamindemon.com/2009/04/15/play-doctor-go-to-jail/
Products to Use for Adult Intimacy:
- Check with physician about medical issues
- Lubrication – coconut oil, water based or silicone based lubrication
- Anatomy Enhancement – can add sensation to clitoris or vagina
- Anatomy De-Sensitization – sore nipples after breastfeeding, vaginal tears
Aromatherapy for Intimacy
- * Orange – when you want to get things going, use Orange essential oil as it will awaken the senses and create a desire to explore one another
- * Rose – smells wonderful, great for women, sexual debilities, frigidity, and impotency, menstrual problems and headaches.
- * Frankincense and Inner Child™ and Release™ blends – will assist with recovery from sexual abuse or trauma.
- * Bergamot – inhaled, it relaxes the nervous system, has a floral scent, it also helps with PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).
- * Jasmine – mmmm, used to combat frigidity, impotence and premature ejaculation.
- * Rosemary – assists with depression, anxiety, stress, headache and stomach disorders (love-sickness) but can interfere with estrogen.
- * Lavender – calming, helps with relaxation, reduces anxiety, odor helps males as aphrodisiac, enhances female sensitivity, increases blood flow to genitals.
Copyright NURO LLC 2013, Cynthia Djengue, Author
Please do not copy or distribute without permission from owner or without citing original source with entire content.