The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
Chapter 7 from Fathering Right from the Start by Jack Heinowitz, p. 65-73.
It's hard to find time for just the two of us these days. Then when we can be alone together, we hardly ever manage to make it happen. But here's what really gets to me: The few times we actually do steal away together are very disappointing. There's not much closeness, . . all that “juice” is gone. So now even being with her is getting frustrating.Even the most solid foundations can be rattled by the physiological and psychological changes that rock couples entering parenthood. Sexual spontaneity vanishes, breastfeeding arrives on the scene, and eroticism seems as approachable as the top of Mount Everest in monsoon season.
The trick to moving through this stormy time is to realize that you
and your partner are in the upheaval together, and that the more you work
as a team, avoiding the temptation to dodge issues or to “go it alone,”
the sooner the turbulence will pass. Now is the time to go to each other—to
draw strength from your love for each other and inspiration from
your mutual love for the child you created together, Although examining
the underpinnings of your sexual relationship may be especially delicate
right now, it is a perfect way to begin stepping up your fortification
Stepping into motherhood means not only healing from childbirth but also recovering from fatigue and adjusting to round-the-clock infant care. For these reasons, your partner's interest in lovemaking may be low. In addition, her estrogen levels are plummeting; and already “touched out” by the end of the day, the last thing she may want is to be “turned on.” After her uterine discharge has cleared, she may feel ready and eager but unsure about the advisability of proceeding. Her practitioner should be able to help resolve the confusion.
Because of the decreased estrogen levels, many women also experience a significant reduction in vaginal lubrication, especially while breastfeeding. Sexual lubricants are often effective and can be used liberally.
However you choose to deal with your partner's changing physiology, don't mistake her efforts at adjusting to it for a lack of interest in you. What is most important for her at this time is to feel at ease with her decision to resume intercourse—free from the pressure of your expectations and her own.
You, on the other hand, may be eager to return to love making. Prolonging the wait may seem to add insult to injury, yet attention, touch, and pleasuring are not always easy to ask for. When we have difficulty expressing these needs directly, we tend to resort to indirect communication through hinting, pouting, or withdrawing. Or we may, knowingly or not, adopt more passive-aggressive measures such as sarcasm, criticism, or nagging.
If any of these behaviors ring true for you, understand that your partner has probably detected your displeasure. To avoid hurting or angering you, she—perhaps equally reluctant to be direct—may begin to accommodate your wishes before she is ready. But her unstated resentment will eventually surface, setting off a subtle yet vicious conflict that no one can possibly win. At best, it will go round and round, quietly eating away at the relationship. At worst, it will degenerate into a pernicious power play. The solution? State your desires clearly and simply, listen to your partner's reply, then work together to arrive at a mutually satisfying game plan.
It is also possible that in the weeks following your child's birth you
may be surprisingly less interested in lovemaking. A fretful baby, interrupted
sleep, or frequent night-waking can discourage and deplete any parent.
Or your lack of enthusiasm may stem from feeling excluded by your partner
or your newborn.
It is probably evident by now that illusions you may have had about not letting your baby intrude on your lifestyle were less than realistic. Spontaneity will just have to wait a while. But keep the faith—it will return. In the meantime, plan romantic interludes around your infant's schedule, and take full advantage of nap times.
When your baby cries during lovemaking, your partner has a difficult choice to make—whether to attend to her own sexual gratification, to yours, or to your baby's discomfort. You, too, must choose between asserting your desires and deferring to your child or partner. Although this hardly seems a win-win-win situation, it is built into the early parenting experience. Some frustration and conflict are therefore unavoidable. To prevent the buildup of antagonism, think patience and creativity. A good sense of humor about such matters also can be a godsend.
In addition, your partner may be experiencing increased tenderness in her breasts, sore nipples, or decreased vaginal lubrication—all of which can certainly detract from the pleasure of foreplay and intercourse. Anticipating these changes, understanding them for what they are, and dealing with them openly will ease you back into full-spectrum sexuality.
Fathers of breastfed babies often experience some unanticipated shifts of their own. Watching your child nurse, for example, you may entertain a variety of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and associations. Seeing your partner as a mother rather than a lover can, consciously or unconsciously, influence your desire for her. Observing your child peacefully at your partner's breast may stimulate longings of your own or inspire a new appreciation for her. Intrigued or aroused by your partner's enlarged breasts, you may want to touch, suck, or taste her milk. Although this practice is rarely mentioned by couples’ counselors, it can be enjoyable for both of you. If it is, go ahead and incorporate it into your love-play.
Another common concern for fathers of breastfed babies is a fear of being shut out. Jim expresses it this way:
There's no reason for me to even get up at night when my wife is nursing the baby. I feel bad. If I'm not a part of this twosome, then there's something missing. It shouldn't be my wife's responsibility to raise a child; it should be an equal kind of arrangement. But there's nothing I can do. You know, it's strange, but even though my wife and I are home more now, it's as though we've hardly been together at all.Actually, there are many things you can do, but not while operating from hurt and fear, as Jim is. He feels dismissed and does not know how to segue back into a position of importance. (To learn how to move from fear into power—a skill we all must apply in the interest of sustaining loving, healthy relationships—see chapter 9.) For now, if you are feeling excluded from the mother- child alliance, take positive action. Here are some suggestions.
Tips for Breastfeeding Dads
A proactive approach—involving yourself rather than waiting—is guaranteed to help you feel better. While taking care yourself and nurturing your baby, you will also be more inclined to support the nursing relationship.
Your ongoing encouragement of breastfeeding fosters partner's and your child's well-being in ways you may not realize. Women who, as a result of childhood abuse or sexual molestation, enter motherhood with an aversion to breastfeeding often discover that nursing their babies helps heal the old pain. Nursing can help desensitize your partner to negative associations she may hi with her breasts.
For babies, nothing replaces mother's milk as a source of balanced nutrition,
a wellspring of natural immunity, and a major brain stimulator. It is the
most complete substance nature offer. In supporting this form of nourishment,
you both power your partner and enhance your child's well-being. Of equal
importance, you give yourself a gift, for you can rest assured that your
child is off to the best start possible.
Second, coach yourself on remaining an active parent. If after overcoming
initial feelings of helplessness you still feel unimportant to your partner,
let her know. She may decide to do some soul searching of her own
by working, for instance, with the following
Letting In the Odd Man Out
Third, let your affection flow. If it feels obstructed, identify the
culprit. More than likely, it is related to the stream of adjustments you
have made in order to get on with life. In this, back up and express your
honest feelings about this new Id of parenthood, then alter your adjustments.
For practice, do the following exercise on your own and with your partner.
Adjusting to Parenthood
Meeting each other's needs for reassurance, closeness, affection is the surest way to get back into the swing of loving. When you are both ready, go gently and tenderly. Intercourse may now be most comfortable in a side-by-side or a female-superior position that gives your partner more control over the depth of penetration. Slip off to a private place to make love after your baby has nursed. Pleasure each other through mutual massage, bathing, sharing fantasies, and other forms of noncoital sexual activity. Talk with each other about your changing sexual feelings preferences.
The physical discomforts will definitely pass. The emotional s, given proper attention, will too. Then once you've opened the challenges and joys of parenting together, your lovemaking is apt to be better than ever.
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