Maintain Intimacy While On Bed Rest

February 1st, 2010

A pregnancy ushers in a new era for a couple. First pregnancies in particular while usually welcomed, completely change the dynamic between partners. For many couples, the pregnancy heightens intimacy and they are surprised to find that they enjoy some of the most sensational sex of their relationship. But when a pregnancy is high risk and complicated by bed rest, sex-and intimacy- can quickly become a distant memory.

For a woman with a high risk pregnancy and on prescribed bed rest, sexual intercourse is very likely the furthest thing from her mind or the mind of her partner. Usually both parents-to-be are consumed with the health and well being of mother and baby and refrain from sexual intercourse fearing injury to the baby. However, this is one time when intimacy, emotional intimacy and not physical intimacy, is essential. Due to the stress surrounding a high risk pregnancy and bed rest it is important that partners set aside time to be intimate, to care for one another as lovers and friends, throughout the pregnancy in spite of the bed rest. I want to be clear, I am not telling high risk pregnant couples on bed rest to engage in sexual intercourse. Whether or not they can engage in sexual activities is something that they need to discuss with their obstetrician or midwife.  I am encouraging couples to maintain intimacy-specifically, emotional closeness.

So how does this work? If a couple cannot have sex, how can they be intimate? I realize that many people reading this post will ask this very question. But let’s look at what it means to be intimate. Webster’s dictionary defines intimate as “most private or personal; closely acquainted or associated; very familiar.” In our culture intimacy or the act of being intimate has been relegated to a purely a physical act, that of sexual intercourse. However by the dictionary’s definition, intimacy or the act of being intimate means more than just physical intimacy. It also means to be close; sharing private thoughts and emotions and holding those thoughts and emotions in a special place between the two people involved.

Research shows that couples who master the art of maintaining intimacy during pregnancy and maintain intimacy after the baby arrives have a higher probability of long term success. These couples know that taking time to be alone together and to nurture their own connection is critical to their very survival as a couple. Even with a bed rest prescription, these couples still share private  thoughts, feelings, emotions and some abridged form of a physical relationship and as a result “keep the home fires burning.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I encourage couples coping with bed rest to nurture their intimate relationship.  You may want to have an intimate candle light dinner, listen to music together, talk, watch a favorite move or just snuggle. Whatever it is that draws you closer, do it. Remember it’s that love that you shared that created the little one that you so anxiously await. And as precious as that little one is, it should never eclipse the intimacy that the two of you share.

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