April 13, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 8
Midwifery Today E-News
“Sex and Pregnancy”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

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On the Journey to Becoming a Mother

MT storeSummer Solstice features a flower-crowned pregnant woman standing among fruiting branches. The rich browns, greens and yellows give this original fine art by Amy Swagman a warm glow that will enrich any room in your home or office. Available as a 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 inch digital print on 9.5 x 12.5 inch archival, acid-free artist paper. See a larger picture on our website. To order

Quote of the Week

Intimacy is not purely physical. It’s the act of connecting with someone so deeply, you feel like you can see into their soul.


The Art of Midwifery

Love is one of the greatest phenomena of warmth. The emotion of love, so difficult to pin down with words, so often invisible to the critical and objective mind, has always been attached to and associated with warmth. A “warm feeling inside” is all we need to hear in order to understand the person who is experiencing this ecstasy. We feel envious. We all want to feel a warm feeling inside. The warmer, the better—the more pleasure it renders. But also, the warmer it is, the more ramifications it has and the bigger its potential to lead us to the birth of something new.

Naolí Vinaver
Excerpted from “Everything Begins with Warmth,” Midwifery Today, Issue 62
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Midwifery Today Conferences

Moving from Pain to Power with Debra Pascali-Bonaro

Fiji conferenceAttend this full-day class to learn how the key elements of privacy, safety and being unobserved and undisturbed facilitate an easier, gentler birth. You will also discover how to create birth ambiance: lighting, music, aromatherapy and touch. Debra also discusses the 4 R’s of labor: relaxation, rhythm, ritual and rebozo, along with the Hoku acupressure point.

Learn more about the Suva, Fiji, conference.

Birth Is a Human Rights Issue

Strasbourg conference Join us in Strasbourg, France, this October as we highlight the human rights violations around the world. You need to feel safe in your practice. Women need to feel safe in the way births are done. In addition to exploring these issues, our conference will inspire, encourage and refresh you. You are the key to changing the future of birth.

Learn more about the Strasbourg, France, conference.

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Editor’s Corner

Sexuality and Pregnancy

Pregnancy and birth are sex. They are part of a woman’s sexual life. They are the essence as well as the result of sex and yet Western medicine has separated sex from birth as if it has nothing to do with it. It is this separation that seems to have partially led to the interventionist approach to birth care. It is similar to removing respect and love from birth. What is left is not anything close to God’s original design for birth.

Midwives are the ones who realize pregnancy and birth are an important part of a woman’s sexual life. Midwives mostly don’t shy away from talking about it with pregnant and postpartum women. If there is a time in her life when a mom needs this support it is in the birthing year. The birthing year is from conception through the first year of life. Midwives take on so many roles and that of counselor is one of them. A good midwife also knows her limits and when a trained counselor is needed. One more good reason to find a midwife when you get pregnant!

— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.

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Conference Chatter

Conference Planning and Scouting for Venues

Jan_Eney_Fern_Elena_GailSM (21K) One aspect of conference planning is finding conference venues. While traveling this month, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, my dear conference co-planner, and I will not only be looking for places to do our regular five-day conference on the East Coast, but also for places to do retreats and mini-conferences. [Pictured here are some of the retreat speakers: (from left) Jan Tritten, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, Fernando Molina; with Gail Hart (at far right).]

The mini-conference retreat we had at McMenamins Edgefield outside of Portland, Oregon, in February was a great event. (See the scrapbook and program.) The attendees loved it and so did we. In addition to the energizing program our teachers provided, McMenamins Edgefield lived up to our expectations as a very special place to hold the event, with good food, artful soaking pools and beauty all around. It was wonderful to be together in this one-day mini-conference/retreat.

Many busy caregivers have told us they cannot easily travel and attend a conference for more than one day, so Midwifery Today is trying to respond to this need by providing more short experiences. We will look around Washington DC, New York City, Lancaster and other places. If you know of a place to hold a mini-conference, please let us know.

We think there is nothing like a face-to-face conference where we can share our trials and our joys in this important work. We dance, sing, stay up late telling birth stories and encourage each other all through our times together. We also recognize another need people have, and that is to be able to take classes online. We are looking into this, too. Midwifery Today is here to serve you with your education, whether in print or at events.

— Jan Tritten

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Featured Article

Sex after the Baby Comes

The postpartum period is defined as a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of three years after giving birth. This is undoubtedly one of the sweetest and most challenging times of a woman’s life.

It has wisely been said that the exhilaration of pregnancy and birth are but preparation for the grueling adjustments to be made postpartum. I often tell women that the first six weeks of caring for a newborn is the hardest work they will ever do. The changes involved in adding another member to the family are far from minor, and the stress of it all may well lead a woman (and her partner) to wonder whether there is sex after birth.

In the first few moments following delivery, oxytocin is released to contract the uterus and shear off the placenta. As the baby is put to the breast, nipple stimulation triggers additional oxytocin, which shrinks the uterus down to the size of a grapefruit. Over the next ten days or so, continued release of oxytocin will contract the uterus back to its pre-pregnant size.

When a woman breastfeeds, oxytocin levels rise even higher according to the frequency of nursing, which in the first few weeks may occur as often as every hour or two. The extra boost serves to contract and tone the upper vaginal area (or vault)—a process that takes place much more slowly in women who bottle-feed.

Milk production is initiated in part by the hormone prolactin, which is released when estrogen and progesterone levels drop with delivery. Continued milk production depends on stimulation of the breasts the more the baby sucks, the more milk the mother will produce, as long as she has adequate rest, food and drink. Let-down of milk with each nursing is triggered by oxytocin via nipple stimulation. Oxytocin also increases blood flow to the breasts, causing them to radiate heat so the baby is literally bathed in warmth.

It seems obvious that breastfeeding is a sexual experience. Sometimes, uterine and vaginal contractions caused by oxytocin even lead to orgasm. Unless a woman has deep inhibitions, breastfeeding is at the very least physically fulfilling, with surges of warmth and well-being that encompass body and soul. And the experience is mutual: The baby responds with love and desire; its little hands stroke the breast; its toes curl rhythmically; its body presses forward (as it gets older). Just as making love bonds emotionally healthy adults together, so breastfeeding bonds mother and child. In fact, suckling at the breast has been shown to trigger the release of oxytocin in the newborn (which not only helps stabilize its mood but also facilitates digestion). We are little accustomed to thinking of babies as having sexual needs, but to a certain extent, they do. Close to our most basic definition of sexual desire is the physical and emotional urge for intimacy that is with us from birth.

Elizabeth Davis
Excerpted from “Sex after the Baby Comes,” Midwifery Today, Issue 62
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Featured Products

What’s the best-kept secret?

MT store The fact that childbirth can be a glorious emotional, spiritual, and physical experience and not one drenched with pain. This DVD intersperses stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth with commentary by experts such as doctors Christiane Northrup and Marsden Wagner, midwives Elizabeth Davis, Naolí Vinaver and Ina May Gaskin, and social scientists Robbie Davis-Floyd and Carrie Contey. Get your copy and show your clients what birth should be like. To order

Also available: Organic Birth: Birth is Natural

Learn how sexual abuse affects women during pregnancy and childbirth and what you can do to help.

MT store Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse was written to help break down the isolation pregnant women and their caregivers often feel—as though they were the only ones having to cope with these challenges. You’ll be able to read excerpts from 81 women’s stories of birthing, mothering and healing after childhood sexual abuse. The book also includes some complete narratives, discussion of implications of women’s experiences for their care, suggestions for working together during maternity care and beyond, resources to consult, and information from current research. Suitable for both caregivers and pregnant survivors, Survivor Moms will help anyone whose life has been touched by sexual abuse. Published by Motherbaby Press, an imprint of Midwifery Today. To order

Carry a bundle of birth stories on your smartphone or e-book reader!

MT e-book Birth stories are fun to read and good to share. And now you can have 21 birth stories available anytime and anywhere, when you purchase and download Birth Stories, a collection of personal accounts from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine. These stories were written by mothers, fathers and midwives, and cover homebirth, hospital birth, twin birth, breech birth, VBACs and waterbirth. Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Get practical information about how to have a natural birth in any setting

MT online store The Down to Earth Birth Book has information on herbs, nutrition, exercise, yoga, massage, breathing for birth, the stages of labor, waterbirth, breech birth, mastitis, foods for early breastfeeding and much more. You will also find diagrams, illustrations and over 90 color and black and white photos. This is a book you will return to time and again for information on birth preparation, as an in-the-moment birth guide, and as a reference for after the birth. To order

Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues

MT online store Each quarterly issue of Midwifery Today magazine is packed full of birth news, insights and information. You’ll also get an in-depth look at an important topic, with several articles devoted to the issue theme. Look over the list of available issues, then order the ones you need to help improve your practice. To order

Website Gem

Read this review from Midwifery Today magazine:

  • Orgasmic Birth—by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, reviewed by Jessica Atkins

    Excerpt: I smiled, laughed and even shed a few tears over the book, Orgasmic Birth, by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro. You know the feeling you get when you really connect with something that resonates deeply with your own sense of truth? That’s what this book made me feel. My husband kept asking me what I was reading.

    At last we have an approachable tool for couples, midwives, doulas, educators—anyone who works with pregnant and parenting families really—to facilitate the powerful connection that our human sexuality has to not only the conception act, but to nurturing healthy, physical, loving relationships. The authors also connect the physiological aspects of a healthy sex life with healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

Birth Q&A

Q: How soon after giving birth did you resume having intercourse? Was it the standard six weeks? Sooner? Later?

— Midwifery Today

A: First child (homebirth): two weeks (mostly because I was scared it would hurt). Second child (homebirth): three days. Third child (home waterbirth): one week (because I was an older mother and just too darned tired).

— Kris

A: With my uncomplicated vaginal birth, I only had five days of postpartum bleeding, and I had sex exactly three weeks after birth.

— Misty

A: I waited a full six weeks with my first two, mostly because of tearing. With my third, we had intercourse two weeks postpartum with no ill effects.

— Jessie

A: We have eight kids and our little man is 14 months now. We have had sex twice since he was born. We have a great secure marriage and we love each other extremely, but we are exhausted. When he is in the mood, I’m not and vice versa. But it works for us. We snuggle a lot, and show affection in other ways.

— Jennifer

A: Here’s an unpopular, but honest, answer: I am six months postpartum and we still have not been intimate. Part of it is just the exhausting chaos and busy-ness of three kids. Part of the challenge is my loss of libido as I battle postpartum anxiety and depression. But I think the biggest barrier is my struggle with my changed body and my fear that my partial prolapse will make intercourse less satisfying for both of us.

— Rebecca

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