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Married Sex Postpartum Sex

Postpartum intimacy: the good, the bad, and the ugly

postpartum intimacy

Congrats! You’ve just had a baby. Whether it’s your first or fourth (or more!), you’re head over heels in love with your little one. What’s even better is watching your husband bond with your little one. Thought you loved him on your wedding day? Every time you catch a glimpse of him changing a diaper, burping your sweet baby after a feeding, or passed out asleep on the couch with your bundle on his chest (my favorite!), you feel yourself fall more in love with him. But you’ve just had a baby and you know you can’t take him to bed and show him just how much you love him.

Postpartum intimacy: the good

1. It creates avenues for conversation

This season of life calls for sexually intimacy to both protect your marriage and provide mutual pleasure. Your sexual intimacy needs may not be able to be met through intercourse but you can share what your needs are even if you know up front your typical go-to option is not available.

Being willing to explore other options – for both you and your husband – requires humility and vulnerability in what and how you talk to each other.

Your husband might need you to initiate conversations about creative forms of intimacy or you might need to ask your husband to make suggestions as to how to reach sexual pleasure together. On the other hand, you might need to hear affirming words from your husband about how good of a job you’re doing mothering your child or how much he loves the way you look and feel. Make sure to ask for what you need rather than force him to guess or figure it out on his own.

2. You’re forced to find alternate forms of intimate touch

Most OBs and midwives tell you to refrain from sexual intercourse for at least 6 weeks. Your body needs time to heal even if you had a c-section* but while this is wise advice, 6 weeks (or more if you had to stop having sex during your 3rd trimester went) is quite a long time to not be intimate with your husband. Too many Christian married couples view sex as only for procreation; if you’re among those who haven’t experimented with other forms of physical intimacy, this is your chance to start (at least open the conversation!).

While you can continue to be spiritually, emotionally, and relationally intimate with your husband, this is an opportunity to explore other forms of physical touch: massage, breast stimulation, or genital stimulation. Once you are able to have sex again, you’ll find that continuing to do these things will only further enhance your sexual intimacy and pleasure when coupled with intercourse rather than take away from it.

3. You have the tools to get to know your body better

In the lead up to childbirth, your OB or midwife probably suggested you work on your pelvic floor. If you hadn’t done so before, you learned a lot about how to target these areas. Relaxing and tightening these muscles, including the musculature that makes up the walls of your vagina, is not as simple as flexing your biceps or doing a sit-up. Now that you’ve spent time focusing on how to relax and tighten the muscles directly involved with your genitals, you will [most likely] also have heightened sensation as well. When you are able to have sex again, you will get to use these same muscles to enhance penetrative intercourse with your husband.

Another plus is that you might be able to have intercourse in different positions that had been able to before (after getting the green light from your OB or midwife to have sex again, that is). Learning how to signal your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to relax coupled with pleasurable non-penetrative sexual touch leads to heightened arousal. Having your body ready itself for sex gives you the chance to try a different position or even location for sex (now’s your chance to do it in the kitchen once the kids are in bed!).

Postpartum intimacy: the bad

1. You can’t do everything you (or your husband) wants to do

Take a moment and reflect back on the good elements of postpartum intimacy (besides the way your heart leaps when your husband loves on that adorable baby!). While you may not be able to have sex again yet, you’ve increased your communication about sex, found other ways to be sexually intimate, and perhaps have even found that you can do things you weren’t able to do before. Be patient with yourself and give yourself (and your husband!) grace in this season.

2. Hormonal changes affect your natural lubrication

A marked drop in estrogen after childbirth, especially if you’re breastfeeding, increases vaginal dryness. In order to enjoy sexual touch with your husband, and later, intercourse, you’ll need to invest in quality lubricant (if you haven’t needed to before).** There are many types available depending on your preference. Fractionated coconut oil is a great option since it doesn’t leave a greasy film. You could also use evening primrose oil if you have some of that leftover from ripening your cervix in preparation for labor (capsules – which you can pierce with a safety pin – or liquid).

3. It’s logistically difficult to be intimate [right] after having a baby

Sleepless nights, ’round the clock feedings (bottle or breast!), and taking care of daily life makes you one tired mama. Your husband is tired too; he’s upping his efforts around the house or is already back at work (or both). If you’re co-sleeping or have baby in the room in a bassinet, it is even harder to sexually connect with your spouse even if you have the time.

Do what you can to make the most of brief windows of time. You can stimulate each other in the shower, enjoy some cuddling before you go to sleep, or line up a babysitter to take your baby for a walk so you can be at home alone together for even half an hour (farm out the rest of the kiddos too!).

Postpartum intimacy: the ugly

1. You don’t like the way you look

Your body just went through World War III, vaginal delivery OR c-section. Extra pounds, things stretched how you’re not used to seeing them, jiggles where you’re used to being firm…you probably don’t feel very beautiful.

Mama, this is a great opportunity to experience sexual pleasure NOT based on how you feel about your outward beauty. Your husband married you for the whole you, not just what you looked like.

Honestly, he’s probably holding himself back from ravishing you now that you have extra curves and larger breasts! Your body has an incredible capacity to experience pleasure within your marital relationship; let your husband’s words of affirmation sink in and enjoy his company emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and sexually.

2. It might feel like your first time all over again

You may find you’re figuring everything out all over again when it comes to sex. Whether it’s how you feel about yourself, worry about how much it will hurt, or you are rushed for time, sex after baby is a touchy subject for many couples. You are not the first couple to go through this and you will not be the last. After the birth of each of your children, you’ll need to re-navigate these waters…and that’s okay. You just have to be patient rather than let it get ugly between you and your husband. Take it slow, talk a lot, make light of the fact that you’re probably milking all over yourself (and him!), and remind each other of the love that led to the baby that is putting you in this state of postpartum intimacy. You’ll be back riding that bike sooner than you thought.

3. Satan loves to attack this part of marriage

There’s a reason the porn industry is such a huge business; Satan loves to attack marriage how God designed it. Another way he attacks marriage is by letting sex become an issue between couples, especially in the sleep-deprived and overworked days and months after having a baby. Keeping communication lines clear by sharing your expectations and difficulties, being intentional about being intimate on a regular yet realistic basis, and staying in prayer for one another especially in this area of marriage are all keys to keeping Satan’s attacks from holding any ground.

Practical take-aways

If you want some concrete challenges, the suggestions below are a place to start.

Be intimate with each other at least twice a week. Put it on the calendar (in code) if that helps!

Send your husband a text message inviting him to a time of creative intimacy when he gets home from work (and if you’re the up-front type, tell him you can’t wait to give him a handjob in the shower).

Find a couple who is willing to hold you accountable for your intimate time; not to divulge all your details, but to hold you accountable for taking time to be intimate with each other.

Baby in your room? Do what you would have done even with them there. The challenge of having to stay quiet and communicate with your eyes and bodies what you would have said with your words will make it new and exciting.

I know you have ideas that have worked for you. Won’t you please share them in the comments below?

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*The 6 week window is prescribed by birth providers for women who deliver either vaginally or via c-section for several reasons. It gives ample time for post-delivery bleeding to stop as well as for their cervix to close. Tears to the perineum, episiotomy stitches, or a c-section incision are also factors for women depending on how they delivered.

**If you use condoms for pregnancy prevention, don’t use oil- or silicone-based lubricants because this weakens the material. Only use water-based lubricants to prevent condoms from breaking.

Categories
Books Healing from Sexual Abuse Infertility Married Sex Mechanics of Sex Resources

Book Review: A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Douglas Rosenau

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A celebration of sex

Whether you’re newly married, several to many years past your vows, or just said “yes” to the big question*, A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy is an invaluable book to have in your reference library. And no, it’s not meant to sit there and be used as often as you use your dictionary (never for some of you?). You and your spouse should take time reading most – if not all – of it but also revisit different sections depending on what season you are in (30-year-olds probably don’t need to read “Sex After 45” for a while).

Your purpose (and the purpose of the book)

One of Dr. Rosenau’s statements in the opening chapter perfectly aligns with the purpose here at Intimate Truths:

“A purpose of this book is to encourage each of us to think carefully and bring our sexuality and lovemaking into accord with God’s truth and sexual [glossary]economy[/glossary]…together we as Christians need to carefully reclaim from distorted worldly values God’s precious gift of sexuality. Let’s create a practical and accurate sexual theology and practice.” pg. 11

Why are you here? Why are you interested in a book about celebrating sex? One guess: because you want to be a better lover. You want to fully realize everything that God promises regarding sexual intimacy with your spouse but need practical instruction as to how to make that come about. Maybe you’ve wondered if the semi-pleasure you’ve experienced in your first 5-10 years of marriage is as good as it gets (it’s not!) or you’ve just made it through your first year of marriage and wonder when you’re going to hit that climax you’ve heard so much about. Or you want to be as prepared as you can to pleasure (and receive pleasure from) your spouse and have made the wonderful and difficult decision to save that part of your relationship for after your wedding.

Every married couple should have a copy of A Celebration of Sex:

a peek into each section

I need this book as much as you do. Just because I write a blog that seeks to address all things intimate doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. Yes, I may feel more free to talk about it because of my background in science and teaching but I am not immune from the many challenges sex brings to a marriage. We were given this book as a wedding present from dear friends who had gotten married just a year and a half before us. They had benefited greatly from going through it together and being very purposeful in the development of their sexual relationship as a married couple.

Section 1: Creating Knowledge

The intimate truth presented here is that sex is more than one body part interacting with another. Sex is emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical. Dr. Rosenau emphasizes this in his discussion of how to be the world’s greatest lover: true sexiness requires a knowledgeable and together person and a great relationship, much more than just knowing a particular position in the bedroom. The rest of the first section does, however, go into the physical aspects of a great sexual relationship, including both his and her [glossary]erogenous[/glossary] zones, the physical arousal cycle, and having sex without the mess (all of which we’ll end up covering here at Intimate Truths).

Section 2: Enhancing Pleasure

This might be the most important section for you and your husband to read. That doesn’t mean you need to beat your husband over the head with it. But since men more easily experience pleasure from sex, it’s imperative that both you and he understand what brings you pleasure during lovemaking besides intercourse. I love the title of the last chapter of this section: Making Love with Clothes On. This, of course, comes after a chapter on sensuous massage, which is especially welcome (and stimulating) for gals after a long day of work in or out of the home.

Section 3: Enjoying Passionate Intimacy

Of all of the things this book addresses, you probably think you are best at this. However, like anyone wanting to become better a particular discipline, continual improvement requires constant study and practice. Consider this section your practice plan. Dr. Rosenau covers mutual pleasuring, intercourse, specific chapters on making love to either the husband or wife, and how to [continue to] be passionate lovers. He emphasizes this commitment to constant work in the following passage:

“Dynamic intimacy and fantastic lovemaking come at a great price and elude most of us, because we are too immature and untrained. A deeply passionate relationship doesn’t just happen because you love each other. Now the good news: specific disciplines can be practiced over time that will help us create mature, exciting intimacy – and if we ask, God will teach us these disciplines (Hebrews 12:11). God’s professional lovers must learn from Him and incorporate His heart of intimacy. Passionate lovers realize a great sex life is based on [the following] disciplines they learn from their Creator.” pg. 179

Section 4: Overcoming Common Hurdles

Sometimes sex is not what you expected. Or you run into something that makes it incredibly difficult. Whatever the case may be, Dr. Rosenau hits on several common issues that face married couples when it comes to difficulties with sex. This is especially true for women, and a huge reason why this website exists. Yes, you need a copy of this book so you can have the take of a license psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and certified sex therapist. But after you’ve read and discussed what Dr. Rosenau has to say about body image/feeling sexy, becoming a more easily orgasmic woman, the issues surrounding sex when you have kiddos or are over a certain age, and the seemingly ever present problem of sexual desire and frequency, I’d encourage you to come back there to Intimate Truths for encouragement to continue pursuing a healthy sexual relationship with your husband, perspectives from other women who’ve been in your situation, and more resources to build on the work you’ve already put in.

Section 5: Resolving Problems

This troubleshooting section hits on several issues that uniquely strain a couple’s sexual (and overall marital) relationship. He provides practical steps to deal with common male malfunctions, common female difficulties, and making love when you or your spouse has a disability. With his professional training in psychology and marriage and family therapy, he also provides valuable steps to take for survivors of sexual abuse. Dr. Rosenau also speaks to the common misconceptions about infertility, seeking answers to questions about infertility, the difficulties surrounding miscarriages, and practical steps couples can take to survive and heal. This is a particularly painful subject for women and one we hope to provide support and resources for here at Intimate Truths.

Another reason this site exists is to provide a place for you to discuss anything related to sex and sexuality, something that Dr. Rosenau emphasizes as vitally important to addressing common female difficulties. I cannot implore you more to follow these instructions of his from this section of the book:

“If you were raised in an environment where sex was never discussed or was considered ‘bad’ or ‘dirty,’ undertake a personal education program [perhaps with the resources here at Intimate Truths!]. Communicating about sex and developing a comfortable language will assist you in becoming more at ease with sexuality as well. Tune in to your self-talk, your fears and inhibitions about sex. On your own, examine your beliefs about your sexuality and the ‘meaning’ you have developed about sex. Do you know how God feels about sex? …He created sex as a wedding gift for you, to be used throughout your married life for unity, for connection, for fun, for comfort. pg. 290

Section 6: Healing Brokenness

Perhaps from your own experience or that of a loved one who has shared their own story, you may be aware of the pain that comes with negative sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the magnitude to which sex can ruin a relationship can be far greater than the magnitude that quality sexual intimacy can bolster a marriage. Enter what Dr. Rosenau coins God’s sexual emergency room. Does there need to be confession between the two of you? Repentance? Grieving? Where these things abide, so does both forgiveness and restitution. Where other books about sex may ignore the spiritual side of sexual relationships, A Celebration of Sex emphasizes God’s hand in healing hurts between spouses. He adds chapters on extramarital affairs and sexual integrity or sexual addiction (pornography) as well as provides a perspective on homosexuality.

Convinced yet?

A Celebration of Sex is truly a great starting point for enjoying sexual intimacy the way God intended. It’s also a great reminder and refresher for those that have hit a plateau in their marriage. I firmly believe every married couple should have this book so if that’s you and you don’t have a copy, consider forgoing a few lattes and order one. I am 99% confident that if you do decide to take it out of somewhere else in the budget, your husband won’t be mad. If you already have a copy, consider gifting it to a friend or relative for their wedding. Your encouragement for a strong sexual intimacy from their wedding day forward will be an incredible blessing. If you buy this through the links on this page, your purchase helps further the work of Intimate Truths without costing you any extra.

*The banner at the top purposefully cautions you to not read this unless you’re married. However, if you feel it would be valuable to have this extra preparation as an engaged woman, I’d encourage you to have a trusted married girl friend go through selected portions of this book with you. Reading this book with your future spouse, no matter how close the wedding date is, could encourage you to cross lines you had committed to staying behind until you each had rings on your finger. I’d also encourage you to have your fiance do the same with a married guy friend, husband of the girl you went to if possible! There is incredible power in having mentors in marriage, especially in an area as potentially difficult to navigate as sex.

I want you to have a copy of this book in honor of the launch of Intimate Truths. There are two easy entries below plus one where I get to here from you!

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Categories
Sexuality

Why should we discuss intimate truths?

why should we discuss intimate truths - intimatetruths.com


Sister, we need to talk.

 

Sex is everywhere*. But you already knew that. You are probably here because you want to know what the big deal is, how you fit into the whole equation, and how it all works.

Made in God’s image, we as women have a marvelous template to follow as we journey through this life as daughters, sisters, friends, wives, mothers, aunts, and more. Our Heavenly Father is kind, generous, courageous, powerful, humble, strong, and so many other things. He put these stamps (and many others!) onto our lives, personalities, callings, and talents and with His strength, we get to live out our journeys in these different and varied roles as women.

I don’t think we talk about sex enough in the right ways, at the right time, with the right people.

This isn’t just for you married gals, either. With all the twisting our culture has done with everything relating to sex and sexuality, it’s no wonder single gals feel like they can’t talk about it without being labeled, married gals feel like they can only talk about it with their husbands (and most rarely even do that), and there is just a general sense that intimate topics are somehow dirty, tainted, and overly private.

One huge problem I’ve encountered as a woman – both within and outside of the Christian community – is a lack of healthy, positive, and real conversations about sex, sexuality, and everything else relating to intimacy.

In regards to how Christians handle sex, I count myself among the lucky ones. I experienced the abstinence campaign(s) of high school youth group, got “The Talk” from my dad (which was great), worked through one chapter in our premarital counseling talking about intimacy with my soon-to-be husband, and was given a handout (with pretty good explanations) about how natural family planning worked. With my science background, I knew where things went and how it all worked but that was pretty much it when it came to sex. There were more than a few things nobody told me…couple that with physical difficulties I didn’t foresee and I was in trouble.

Then there’s how the rest of the world handles sex. Seen a cover of Cosmo or Self lately? You’ll find at least one “how to be better in bed” article (or something similar/more provocative) on each. Or perhaps you learned nothing in your public high school health class’ portion of sex ed because, well, we really only have time to teach you what to do if you get pregnant/get a girl pregnant (oh, the pregnancy options lesson) and how to not get STDs (now called STIs to be more politically correct).

A safe place to come to get your questions answered…

Single or married, virgin or not, loving sex with your husband or despairing because sex hasn’t been all it’s talked up to be, this site is for you. Think about just about anything you’ve ever wondered – or have been too scared to wonder about – that has to do with sex. And sex is not just about how far you can go with your boyfriend before marriage. God created us as sexual beings and has a grand plan for our lives whether we are sexually active or not. We’ll talk about the philosophical side…

…but really hit on the science side as well. As a high school science teacher, I realized just how many women don’t understand how their own bodies work. Yes, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching teenage girls about their reproductive system but as a result of my science and teaching background, I’ve had countless friends and family members ask me question after question relating to their hormones, reproductive and sexual issues, and more. Do they not have anywhere else to go? Did they not get a solid explanation in their younger years? Whatever the case may be, it is imperative that we as women understand the amazing design God used to put us together and especially how our reproductive system works.

You need to talk about IT.

It’s no accident that the abbreviation for this site is IT. Things surrounding sex are often euphemized by saying, “Did you do it?” or “How was it?” and it just so happens that we really should be talking about IT. There is no replacement for a close friend whom you can ask your most difficult and intimate questions. Perhaps you do have that friend but an issue comes up that she doesn’t have wisdom in yet so you don’t know where to turn. That’s where Intimate Truths comes in. This is a place where you can learn about your body, ask questions, and find answers to things you needed to ask but just hadn’t realized yet. We want to encourage you in your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health when it comes to your sexuality.

In Christ,
Rachel

*If sex makes you uncomfortable (giggly? frustrated? ashamed?), do me a favor and go somewhere private (bathroom? back porch? in your car?) and say the word “sex” as many times as you need so you can keep reading about it. Trust me, it works. When I taught sex ed in a public high school, I started off the unit by having all the kids plug their ears and repeat whatever anatomical terms they needed to say as many times as necessary so we could actually get some learning done without interjecting tons of giggles.

Categories
Female Reproductive System Symptothermal Method

Fertility Awareness in 400 Words

fertility awareness in 400 words - intimatetruths.com

The fertility awareness method (FAM) is also called the sympto-thermal method. Extremely well-outlined in Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, it involves charting your body’s cyclical changes in cervical fluid as well as body temperature which reflect your body’s hormonal changes.

All women – those seeking to avoid/achieve pregnancy or those not sexually active – are encouraged to practice FAM to better understand their body.

Your body temperature is the thermal part of the name. The other part is the symptoms – what your cervical fluid is like. During different parts of your cycle, your cervix will produce different consistencies of fluid (you’ve probably noticed this in your underwear). Right before and during ovulation, your body produces silky smooth, stretchy fluid that is almost the consistency of egg whites before they’re beaten. God’s design amazes me: He created women to have best-for-swimming-sperm cervical fluid just before and during ovulation.

In regards to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, since sperm can be viable up to 72 hours after ejaculation, it is imperative to know where you are in your cycle. Tracking your cervical fluid and body temperature does just that. After doing this for a few cycles, you get to know approximately when you ovulate so you can either abstain from sex that day as a well as a few days on either end or use a condom if you really wanted to have sex but weren’t ready for a baby.

FAM is cheap because you just have to buy the thermometer. It’s extremely reliable if you do it right: you have to take your temperature at the same time every morning right when you get up. It needs to be the first thing you do before you even get out of bed because you are measuring your basal (resting) body temperature.

If you’re sick, traveling, in a time of stress, etc, ovulation will be pushed back. Another part of God’s grand design – if you’re not in a situation to bring a child into this world, your body postpones releasing an egg.

For pregnancy prevention, it is just as effective as the most effective chemical birth control (98%) when done correctly and diligently. FAM requires a bit more discipline than taking a pill but has no side effects. There is also no waiting to try for a pregnancy with FAM – when you want to try, have unprotected sex near ovulation.

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