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Postpartum Intimacy Part 1: Shifting Roles

February 6, 2017 | Valerie Padd, RN, BSN


Often the resolution to make time to cultivate intimacy in your marriage or the intention of setting regular date nights with your partner isn’t always a top priority. Realistically, the effort towards working on your sexual relationship is constantly upstaged by the demands of motherhood, the responsibilities of managing a household and/or a career, and the determination to shed those last few pounds of “baby weight.”

As a new mom, the joyful chaos is probably not going to end anytime too soon. It’s a time of constant learning—and learning how to shift roles from Wonder-Mom to partner and from partner to lover is just one more item we need to learn.

Women sometimes expect themselves to move from Wonder-Mom to lover 5 minutes after the 10 o’clock news. This unrealistic expectation in both mind and body sets women up for frustration.

Take into consideration another approach: think about building intimacy in your relationship and summoning sexual desire for your partner by shifting from responsibility to pleasure.

This can be as simple as thinking back to a special date you had with your partner. Replay that date over and over throughout the day—maybe while changing diapers—and add elements to the encounter that might not have been there in reality, but would have made the date even more exciting. Be sensitive to how your body responds to this mind-play. You are essentially tapping into your imagination and building anticipation, which are two key factors in sexual desire.

If this mind-play exercise works well for you, try taking some actionable steps to prepare for the shift. For example, after the kids are tucked in for the night, take a warm bath/shower rinsing away the day. Water can be a therapeutic tool in your sensual toolbox. Complete your bath/shower time with a favorite massage oil, preparing your skin to be sensitive to touch. Throw on your favorite playlist and curl up next to your partner.

For postpartum intimacy, shifting roles is a two-step process:


The first shift is the premeditated act of recognizing your partner separate from the responsibilities and demands of the day. It may be a physical move (i.e. kiss, hug, long gaze) or spending time together—however brief. The second step, when mutually agreed upon, is giving yourself permission to move into a space where a sense of intrigue, curiosity, imagination, and eroticism can emerge. Allowing yourself to transcend, albeit temporary, to another place. This is a difficult shift for many of us; however, with active engagement and willful intent, it can happen.

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