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Facing the transition changes in the puerperium. Couples experience

Gimeno, E1; Bárcenas, I1; Serrano, E1; Villena, A1; Trigo, E1; Carriles, S1; López, C1; Normand, E1; Garzonio, A1; Chiclana, C1

1: Dr, Carlos Chiclana Clinic, Madrid, Spain

Introduction. Perinatal sexuality and the changes that women experience in relation to their sexual and corporal identity after childbirth have been a controversial and hot topic within Perinatal Health. The puerperium is a period of adaptation in which various transformations take place in the lives of women on the way they become mothers, but these changes can also have repercussions in the sexual relation with their partner, reason why their partners also can be affected by them. How the couple deals with these changes will be crucial because it might affect how the parents relate with their baby.

Aims and objectives. This study aims to approach the personal experience of both women and men during the perinatal period to know, through their narrative, how the change and re-negotiation of body and sexual identities occurs in the new mother and how this can impact on the sexual relationship with their partners.

Methods. For that purpose, a bibliographic review of 31 articles found in this search and other high-impact articles in the area was conducted. The database used in this review was Biomed Central, using as keywords “sexuality” AND (“pregnancy” OR “postpartum” OR “gestation”) AND body experience OR “father*”. Two articles were excluded because they were not considered relevant for the study, while other previous articles of importance in this field were incorporated.

Results. The main problems detected by couples after childbirth can be classified into the following dimensions: a) psychological changes in the couple (loss of sense of self, transition to parenthood and new mother role in women and abandonment feelings in men), b) body changes in women (self-image and perineal trauma), c) hormonal changes in women (sexual desire, vaginal dryness or dyspareunia), d) marital relationship (marital conflict and satisfaction, postponing sex, sexual communication, intimacy and breastfeeding) , e) socio-cultural influences (social support, culturally expected roles and good sex life) and f) life style changes (getting involved in baby care).

Conclusions. This finding helps to understand how changes in new parents occur in terms of their sexual relationship during the transition to parenthood. Implications for caring science and promoting individual’s and couple’s sexual health after the childbirth are discussed.


Work supported by industry: no.

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