We have all heard of the "baby-moon", when a couple goes away on a fun little trip before baby arrives. It arose out of the idea that this would be their last chance to get away together for a long time. Why? Because a baby is coming, of course!
This is a VERY quintessential American activity and frame of mind. I would be very curious to hear what couples and mothers from other countries think about the concept of baby-moons. Please chime in...
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with getting away, checking out of your daily routines and having fun with your partner. What I challenge, is why it is socially acceptable for this not to be encouraged in postpartum when it may actually be more vital to the emotional, mental and sexual health of both mom and partner.
Mothers are still lovers, still sexual beings but our societal norms don't support her in returning to this place of sexuality in postpartum. Instead we nudge moms in the direction of striving to be the perfect mom, high performing employee, who keeps up the household routines, and continues to be present and open to all intimate desires of her partner. This is simply unrealistic and every mom I have interacted with has fallen well short of this in one or all areas.
A very challenging aspect of this that often gets completely sidelined because the mom is just not able to do it all is the intimacy and sexual relationship she had/has with her partner. It's the easiest one to shove to the side for a later date. I wonder though, if we supported moms to nurture this more, if that wouldn't boost her ability to show up better in the other areas of her life.
Let's take a step back for a minute and talk postpartum hormones and sexual desire. A majority of women start out postpartum breastfeeding (which I 100% support and encourage for as long as possible), however the hormone that stimulates the production of breastmilk, prolactin, also nudges the body into a menopause like state where estrogen and progesterone levels are low. These hormones are central to sexual desire and arousal in women. When these sex hormones are suppressed due to breastfeeding, it can take up to 45-min for a postpartum woman to achieve arousal. What postpartum woman has 45-min?!?! They are either passed out or breastfeeding again! So let's not just tell mom's "it will happen", "just do it quick", or "it will get better". NO, it very likely will not and this doesn't help anyone- mom, partner or baby!
The best way to reignite sexual desire and arousal in a new mom is to support her (and her breastfeeding journey) so she can step away from her mothering duties for a few days/nights with her partner. Cue the LOVER-MOON! A planned mini-vacation away from baby to support and foster the couples return to a supportive, mutually enjoyable, and sexual relationship. When a postpartum woman is able to receive trusted childcare for several days so she can step out of her role as 24/7 mom for even 48-hours. When she has the time and opportunity to quiet her mommy brain, have peaceful conversations with her partner and explore her new paths of sexuality without disruption, she may just succeed in finding a path back to her sexual femininity that much easier.
So with that, I propose supporting postpartum women in planning a Lover-moon with their partner! Leave baby with grandma, stay at a nearby resort (just in case she need some more pumped milk), enjoy each other as lovers and revel in all you have accomplished together!
#momssupportingmoms #mothershoodsexuality #matrescencesexuality
Hilary Valentine, Owner of Windward Maternal Wellness
I was born and raised in Massachusetts but I have called Oahu my home for the past 14 years. I live with my family in Kailua, including my husband, Jason, my daughters, Victoria and Gwendolyn and my parents, Nanette and Geoff. This blog is intended to shine light on both my work as a women's health occupational therapist and postpartum doula, my personal views on lifestyle topics such as parenting and women's health as well as a resource for education on topics relevant to the clients I serve. I welcome any and all comments and feedback! Mahalo!