INTOUCHOvercoming obstacles to post-natal sex
Newspaper section: Life
Along with the wonders of bringing a child into the world, having a baby is one of the most significant physical upheavals that a woman's body will ever experience. As the birth marks the end of pregnancy, a new post-natal period begins. Many women find themselves unprepared to deal with a host of important changes, including the difficult issue of one's post-natal sex life.
From a purely physical standpoint, there is no reason why a pregnant woman can't continue to enjoy a healthy sex life, with a few exceptions, such as when the foetus is in an abnormal position in the womb, or for women considered to be at high risk of a miscarriage. Most women can enjoy sex during pregnancy just as they did before pregnancy.ANTICIPATING ISSUES
The majority of issues about post-natal sex arise only after the birth. Whether physical or mental, the issues are nearly always resolvable with a combination of patience and understanding. The good news is, whether you've gone through a natural delivery or a C-section, you can resume non-penetrative sex very soon after the birth.
Several factors help explain why many women prefer to wait before resuming penetrative sex. For one, the physical trauma of childbirth can leave a mother feeling more sensitive to pain and in need of some healing time. Women with caesarean or perineum incision wounds are advised to avoid penetrative sex for around two weeks to allow sufficient time for healing. The initial period right after birth is when women are more susceptible to infections, so men should take extra precautions, including using condoms and observing good hygiene habits.PAIN AND FEAR
Fear of pain is the second post-natal sex issue likely to crop up. Many women are afraid that sex will be a very painful experience. While that's certainly not impossible, the fear itself may actually be contributing to feeling real pain during post-natal sex.
The best way to overcome this is to take things slowly, proceed at a pace that feels comfortable for you, and change body positions whenever you feel pain or discomfort. Orgasms can help, too; they trigger the release of endorphins, which have an analgesic effect, making women less sensitive to pain.
A third common obstacle to post-natal sex is a lack of desire for sex reported by many women after childbirth. Getting "in the mood" is more difficult for a mother whose priorities have changed significantly since the birth of her child, as she will be focused almost entirely on her baby.HORMONES
A woman's sex drive can be affected by certain hormonal changes. After childbirth, the female body produces prolactin, the hormone which triggers the production of breast milk. It's also the hormone responsible for producing the feeling of maternal love, not romantic love.
Men and women have very different perspectives on post-natal sex. Women tend to devote their full attention to the needs of their new baby, to the exclusion of all else. While a man is initiating foreplay, his wife is thinking about what time her baby needs feeding or whether the couple's lovemaking will be noisy enough to wake the napping baby. The typical new father is not burdened by the same thoughts.SOLUTIONS
New parents face the challenge of creating some time and space for themselves when a new baby has just arrived. Small, incremental changes, such as moving the baby's crib a bit farther away from your bed (and to a separate room once the child is older), can make it easier to have sex. And take advantage of the time the baby is sleeping to enjoy more intimacy and privacy.
Men find it very difficult to abandon all desire for sex. During the post-natal period, men should demonstrate more affection and tenderness to boost their partner's libido. Showing her some TLC (Tender Loving Care) produces a physiological response _ an increase in her testosterone levels _ which makes her more interested in sex. If she's still not ready, the man may try to negotiate some limited activity that she may find agreeable.
Though every new mother has plenty on her mind, it's critical to avoid shutting your partner out. Even if you don't feel up to having sex, a bit of physical affection and loving words can go a long way to assuring him that he is still loved. Communicating to your partner, in the right manner, that you're not yet ready will make the situation less hurtful to him. Don't say you're "not in the mood"; instead, tell him you're not physically comfortable yet. Patience and affection will provide some powerful help to smoothen out the rough spots during this time of tremendous change.About the authorhttp://www.bangkokpost.com/
Writer: Dr Pansak Sugkraroek
Position: A reproductive endocrinologist at Bumrungrad Hospital
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