Rekindling Passion: Reconnecting and Nurturing Intimacy After Baby

Rekindling Passion: Reconnecting and Nurturing Intimacy After Baby (Feat. Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD)

Empowering Postpartum with Jessi Sletten is an inspiring show for expecting and newly postpartum parents looking to feel prepared, supported, and empowered for their transition into parenthood – without losing themselves to it. Education, inspiration, and support for everything you need to know for your fourth trimester! Watch Live every Thursday 10am MST (Zingo TV Channel 250 & 251)

Featuring: Marriage and Intimacy Coach Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD – The Intimacy Doctor

This compelling episode of Empowering Postpartum with Jessi Sletten refreshingly opens up the discussion around the impacts of new parenthood on intimacy, destigmatizing the struggles couples face in reigniting their passion and connection. Marriage and Intimacy Coach Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD candidly shares her personal story of feeling disconnected from her husband in the postpartum period and her realization that creating and maintaining a passionate marriage is a learnable skill. Dr. Stockwell and Jessi provide an honest look at the need to redefine intimacy in the postpartum period when sexual activity may not be possible, the importance of nurturing touch and generous communication, and the critical work of reconnecting with your changed body and sense of self as a new mother. As Dr. Stockwell reminds us, “Intimacy can be wonderful!”

With vulnerability and expertise, Jessi and Dr. Stockwell discuss the paramount importance of being present in your body, building emotional intimacy through vulnerability, and bringing your whole authentic self into intimate experiences with your partner. Don’t miss out on this tantalizing exploration into rekindling your passion and nourishing your intimate connection within your relationship after childbirth (and beyond).

Guest Info:

Alexandra Stockwell, MD, aka “The Intimacy Doctor,” is widely known for her ability to catalyze immediate and profound shifts in high achieving couples who want it all–genuine emotional connection, sensual passion, and erotic intimacy. A physician coach and Intimate Marriage Expert, Alexandra is the best-selling author of “Uncompromising Intimacy,” host of The Intimate Marriage Podcast, creator of the Aligned & Hot Marriage program, as well as a wife of 27 years and a mother of 4. Couples who work with her discover the key to passion, fulfillment, intimacy, and success isn’t compromise–it’s being unwilling to compromise–because when both people feel free to be themselves, the relationship is juicy, erotically alive, and deeply nourishing.

For over 20 years Alexandra has shown men and women how to bring pleasure and purpose into all aspects of their relationship: from the daily grind of running a household, to intimate communication and ecstatic experiences in the bedroom–all while achieving extraordinary professional results. High performing individuals who are successful in their careers (but can’t say the same for their romantic relationships) work with her to create the quality of relationship they long for. She offers private relationship and intimacy coaching, group programs, and independent study courses. Alexandra has been featured in the Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, USAToday, Cosmopolitan, Business Insider, thriveglobal, mindbodygreen, FOX NEWS NYC, and LA Weekly Magazine named her one of the “Top 10 Dating and Relationship Experts to Watch in 2023.”

Connect with Alexandra
Website
IG: @IntimacyDoctor
FB: Alexandra Stockwell, MD
LinkedIn
Youtube
Tiktok

Key Points:

  • Introduction (0:00)
    • Host Jessi Sletten introduces the show and her guest Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD (a.k.a The Intimacy Doctor)
    • Topic: how to rekindle the passion in a relationship after birth
  • Dr. Stockwell’s Background and Personal Journey (1:22)
    • Her postpartum experiences and journey to becoming an intimacy coach
    • Having conversations with her husband about improving their intimacy 
    • Deciding to get training in marriage and intimacy coaching 
  • Importance of Communication in Postpartum Intimacy (19:09)
    • Defining what intimacy means in the postpartum period
    • Sharing feelings without needing to fix things
    • Clarifying the purpose of intimate conversations
  • Non-sexual Physical Touch (28:59)
    • The significance of non-sexual touch in the postpartum period 
    • Feeling “touched out” vs. experiencing nourishing touch 
    • Paying attention to sensual experiences 
  • Re-establishing the Sexual Connection (37:19)
    • Reconnecting with yourself first before reconnecting with partner 
    • Bringing your whole self into sexual experiences
    • Communicating desires respectfully
    • Sex should feel wonderful, not like a chore
  • Closing Thoughts and Resources (52:30)
    • Dr. Stockwell’s book “Uncompromising Intimacy”
    • Finding Dr. Stockwell online (alexandrastockwell.com, social media)
    • Final comments from Jessi and Dr. Stockwell

Work with Jessi:

Empowering Postpartum Coaching guides new and pregnant moms through the transition into motherhood so that they can bond with their baby without sacrificing their own self care. If this sounds like the support you desire for your own unique journey into parenthood click here to learn more!

Episode Transcript

Jessi Sletten  0:29  
Hello this is Jessi Sletten from Empowering Postpartum. Welcome to the Spanglish World Networks on ZingoTV channels 250 and 251. Please remember to download both the ZingoTV app on the respective app stores on iOS and Android devices. And while you download make sure to rate and leave a comment the app is free. ZingoTV is also available on Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, fire sticks, Roku and Roku sticks and on all smart TVs 2016 and forward. Again, welcome. My name is Jessi Sletten, your postpartum empowerment coach, helping you feel confident prepared and holistically supported for your unique journey into parenthood. I’m super excited to introduce my guests this week, Dr. Alexandra Stockwell Physician Coach and Intimate Marriage Expert, and we are going to be discussing how to rekindle the passion in your relationship after birth. So good morning, Alexandra, thank you so much for joining me today.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  1:22  
I’m glad to be here. And I certainly love our topic.

Jessi Sletten  1:26  
Yes, me too. I’m really looking forward to it. Because I think, you know, intimacy and reconnecting with our partners, especially in this new phase of life is something that every new parent has grappled with at some point. And so I would love for you to just start us off by telling us a little bit about yourself, your story, your work, and then we’ll dive into all the juicy stuff.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  1:50  
Okay, sounds good. So, I am a physician and intimate marriage expert, I work with couples who are motivated to have long term intimate, passionate relationships. And I really got started in the context of my own postpartum experiences. I have been married, I recently celebrated my 28th wedding anniversary and Grant my husband.

Jessi Sletten  2:14  
Congratulations! 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  2:13  
Thank you!, My husband, and I have four children. And we, for due to career reasons, and different things we had two and then we had a break. And then we had two more and we were kind of undecided about the fourth. But we went ahead and we were both in our 40s when he was born. And the reason I say all of that is that having gone through the postpartum experience three times before, I knew that it was inevitable that there would be a real break in our erotic connection in the intimacy of a certain nature. And I really didn’t want that to happen, we had put attention on the quality and flavors of our marriage. And I just didn’t want to go back to you know, go back to step one, again, because we had a fourth baby. And so I really began my very intentional journey to learn more about intimacy and passion and what kind of communication contributes to juicy moments with my husband, while six, seven months pregnant with my fourth child. And the thing that I want to say is that after giving birth to him, I don’t actually remember how long technically until we resumed our usual activities. But there never was a drop in the quality of the connection. And I think that that is a really important thing for our topic that there’s like, the specific activities. And then there’s how the connection feels. And sometimes, it’s really beneficial to decouple those two because it makes both elements flourish a little bit more, I’m realizing that I should have asked how explicit you want to be in this conversation before we start recording. I’m very flexible and will take my queues from you if we want this more innuendo or more explicite.

Jessi Sletten  3:04  
Okay, yeah, no, I think, you know, this is such a, unfortunately, taboo topic, right. I think that, you know, intimacy in general is not viewed as healthy in a lot of ways, which is a very sad thing, I think, in our culture, and I’d love for us to kind of destroy that taboo and say, You know what, there’s nothing wrong or, you know, it might be uncomfortable and that’s okay. We can all face those feelings that we have, you know, when I’m talking about intimacy, but for this conversation, I’d like us to just be open and be able to kind of model that it’s okay to have these kind of conversations. And it’s healthy to have these conversations. And I think that if we, you know, kind of normalize that, through the show, and through whatever else, you know, we’re doing on social media and all those other things. Hopefully, we can kind of be a part of the change in that. So I think, you know, as long as we’re not being too crazy, then let’s have let’s have a really open conversation when we’re having these discussions. So if you’re good with that, I am.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  4:38  
I am, I really appreciate your response. Because I think that like for most people, and this is very relevant to cultivating, postpartum intimacy postpartum. So this isn’t a tangent, and I’ll bring it back in. But like, most people have exposure to let’s say, rom-coms or, you know, super sanitized versions, or have conversations about intimacy and sexuality, or it’s super clinical and medical and anatomical, which I do think is super important. But sometimes, if you go too far in that direction, it could sound like we’re not actually talking about what we’re talking about.

Jessi Sletten  6:12  
Right? That connection, is all of a sudden gone, right? And that’s the key.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  6:15  
Yes, exactly. And it’s like intimacy, from the intellectual conceptual in our head point of view. And I think it’s really helpful to have it feel a little more embodied, given what we’re talking about. And then the third option is largely covered by porn or other sources, where it is very explicit, but it has other feelings met most of the time. And so it means that whether we’re using a very sanitized sort of princessy version of talking about sex in the vein of romantic comedies, and, you know, in not explicit romance novels, that kind of thing, or clinical conversations, you know, very factual, or porn, all three, for different reasons, feel like they’re inaccurate, or we’re not talking about what we want to talk about. So I agree that like, one of the purposes of this conversation is to find a way to have these conversations. And I want to say, you know, I didn’t talk about sex with my own mother until I’d already had two children. I did not grow up – In fact, most of my adulthood, I wasn’t comfortable having these conversations. But it became necessary, both for heating up my own marriage, and to normalize these conversations and have them in a way that isn’t sort of affected or like filtered with any purpose other than authenticity. And, you know, when it comes to longterm, long lasting passionate marriage is the only positive predictor is being able to have conversations with your spouse about the sex you’re having. The when I think it’s 90% of couples who are happy and passionate, through the decades, are having conversations about their sex, the sex they’re having. So or maybe it’s 89%, and only 11% are not. And yet we live in a culture, I think this is when you and I are in the United States. But I think this is true pretty broadly across the world that most people are more comfortable having sex than having a conversation about sex.

Jessi Sletten  8:43  
Yes. Yes, I would agree with that. Absolutely. Well, I think, you know, the point of this show is empowerment. And I think that, you know, that covers a broad range of experiences in, you know, the perinatal timeframe, right. And so, I really hope that this message comes through that understanding how to have these conversations, breaking through the taboos, you know, looking at our own thoughts and beliefs around sex and how we connect with our partners, really, will be this feeling of empowerment, and that you do have control over some of these things, right, and that we can talk about how and what we need with our partners, whether it’s sex, or whether it’s, you know, sharing the parental load, or you know, preparing for bringing this new life into the family dynamic, right? There’s all these things and I completely agree with you that the foundational piece here is that communication, and building those communication pathways, and I love what you said about you know, you started this in your own journey in pregnancy and that’s a lot of what we talked about in this show is that, that intentional preparedness is super important. It’s never too late, but if you can do it in the pregnancy timeframe, you have more of that time, the mindfulness, the ability, the, you know, even, you’re not as exhausted, you’re tired and pregnancy, obviously, you’re growing a human, but you know, you’re not having to attend to the baby yet. And so you can really focus on these conversations with your partner. So I just I wanted to say that I really love that you mentioned that in your own journey. And I think that’s something that I really tried to advocate for in the show is really having a lot of these wide variety, you know, range of conversations in the pregnancy timeframe.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  10:35  
Yeah, although, it’s, it’s not so easy to inspire people in this way. Because most people I think, are focused on if they’re going to be preparing and intentional and creating a birth plan. And, you know, after that, it takes special something to even pay attention to, like, learn how to change a diaper, if that’s something somebody doesn’t already know. You know, that is understandable. And I also think, like, it’s wonderful to be able to have these conversations, and we don’t always know what is gonna happen with our body with the baby’s personality and needs there. It’s, it’s beautiful, to be oriented to the landscape of possibility. And yet there remains this profound unknown until that new baby joins the family.

Jessi Sletten  11:30  
Absolutely, yes, I can’t, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s just that, you know, establishing those channels of communication and understanding, you know, how to turn toward one another, when those unexpected things come up, or when things are harder than we anticipated, you know, having that safety in the relationship to be able to say, Wow, this was not what I was expecting, or, this is way harder than I thought it was gonna be, you know, and being able to be open and honest and vulnerable with one another is a beautiful thing. So yeah, anyway, um, but I would love to hear a little bit more about how, you know, you kind of shifted gears, are you still practicing medicine? Or are you fulltime [coaching]? 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  12:12  
No, I don’t have any clinical medicine. And I have been a full time coach for 11 years.

Jessi Sletten  12:18  
11 years. Wow. Okay, so it was kind of your own journey, which I think is the case for so many of us in this field of, you know, supporting perinatal, you know, during the perinatal timeframe is really kind of what happened in our own journeys. So if you could just tell me a little bit more about how you know, working on your own journey kind of inspired you to start helping others in the same kind of vein of intimacy and marriage partnerships.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  12:48  
Sure. So my husband and I met the first week of medical school, he’s a physician and continues to practice. And during basically the first 10 years of our relationship first dating, and then when we were engaged, married, and we had two children fairly soon thereafter, we were in medical school, we were in medical training afterwards. And it meant that we really did not have much time together. I mean, we had enough time to get to know one another, and to be clear on our values and general compatibility. But really, between exams and working 60, 70 80, 90, sometimes 100 hours a week, there’s now a law in the United States that kept working hours at 80. But that didn’t exist when we were training and, and then, you know, having babies and all that that brings, so I just always assumed, and we were having what I call functional sex, like, you know, it was fun, it was fine. It was definitely not what the poet’s write about, then I did not afterwards feel like, oh, we are so much more connected. It just was functional. Like, it was fun. But it didn’t like expand my soul. It didn’t have the feel like oh, the two of us are so much like, so much closer to one another. It was more like a almost a bodily function with some delight. So I thought, Okay, well, once we have more time together, we’re so compatible in so many ways. We love one another so deeply, we’re devoted to our life together, for sure things are just gonna blossom and expand and we’re gonna have new flavors and seasonings and how our bodies and souls feel. So now fast forward approximately 10 years into our relationship. I’m not working any evenings or weekends, and he’s only occasionally working the weekend. We before we had our next two children there no have babies and diapers. Like, we have time we have time together in the evening. We have time together on the weekend. Yes, we have two young children. But compared to before, we have so much more time together. And nothing changed. And, sure we laughs The more we had more time to talk and connect, but in terms of the quality of our erotic connection, nothing really changed. And it was kind of, like getting hit in the head when I realized, oh, it’s not just time that we need. So then I wondered, okay, well, what do we need? Because I had faith that more was possible for us, although I wasn’t really sure. And one of the things it took me, you know, I wasn’t tracking the time, I didn’t know I’d be talking about this with anybody our would have been mortified to consider that. But it was at least six months until I had the courage to actually say something to my husband. Yeah, basically. And one of the things I now teach is how to do that. So I was not so harmful at the time. But what I say now is to start by commenting on the things that are going really well in your relationship, acknowledge how you co-parent together, or how you make financial decisions so smoothly, or whatever it is, that’s that you’ve chosen your home or whatever it is, that’s really good in your marriage. And wouldn’t you like to have how we are with one another in the bedroom, on par with the, the best parts of our relationship. I didn’t know that. Then I said, Whatever I said into my complete surprise. My husband said, Me too. Because my parents were divorced, my husband’s parents were divorced, I always believed we would end up getting divorced, even though there was nothing objective to indicate that. And I thought, Oh, if I bring up dissatisfaction, it’s going to be the beginning of the end, I’m going to hurt his feelings, his ego, we’re going to suddenly it’s going to feel like freefall, we’re not going to know how to navigate this. It’s totally new terrain, and tender and complicated. So I just was so scared that we’d end up getting a divorce. And I track it back to when I brought up that I thought we could do better in the bedroom. But that’s not what happened. What happened is that that was really the beginning. And just honestly, being on the same page about loving one another and wanting to cultivate this part of our relationship. I already felt more turned on and like more heartedness. And like there was more aliveness in our sex just by having that very short, simple conversation about wanting to grow together in this arena. And I started by ordering a number of books, I have to say, I didn’t really find the book that I would have wanted. So I’ve since written it, called “Uncompromising Intimacy”, but it was a long journey. And part of my journey included a really in depth training in sensuality and sexuality that I did for myself in our own marriage. And it doubled as a coach training. And at the time, I didn’t know what a coach was, I’d never heard of that. But I was very interested in educational models and curious how people would be taught to help other people with this very personal area of life. So I went to the teaching lab, and as soon as I was there, I was like, Oh, I have come home. The work that I want to do.

Jessi Sletten  19:09  
Yeah, oh, I love that so much. I, I really connected with what you were saying about the vulnerability piece, and how that is so scary for so many of us, especially when it comes to these types of really intimate conversations. You know, we carry with us our own childhood experiences, our own trauma, our own worries that we are going to just keep repeating those same mistakes in our relationship and how that can really be scary to just open us up to have these conversations even though our partner should be one of those safe places, right where we know we can be vulnerable, but it’s still really scary to be able to say, here’s how I’m feeling you know, and then to just have that reciprocated by your husband, I’m sure just that connection was, like you said almost immediate to just be like, Oh, okay, We can have these types of difficult conversations without risking our relationship. And I love that I think that that’s something that I know I have experienced with my own relationship where I’m like, Oh my gosh, you know, I’m really scared to bring this up or, you know, like, what, what if this is the beginning of the end, like you said, my parents are divorced as well. And so, it’s always been that, I guess I’ve never noticed that until you’ve put it into words where that’s always been in the back of my mind is one of those barriers to that vulnerability. So I was just, an “aha moment”.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  20:34  
Yeah, I was very aware when, like, even the day I got married, that I had like two different voices in my head, one was full of so much possibility and potential in love with my husband, like it was we were promising. And then the other was, well, of course, we’ll get divorced. And actually, when my, my daughter, my first child was little, I used to just kind of memorize special moments. So I could later tell her how beautiful our family was when she was young. And then at some point, and it was many years in, it could have been 15 years into our marriage, I was like, I think it’s time to just disconnect from that voice. You know, now, I feel very certain 15 years, and I thought, you know, it’s possible that we’ll get divorced but it’s not inevitable. And this internal assumption that that’s where we’re headed, really, it’s not helpful. It’s just distracting and it had become false, which was wonderful.

Jessi Sletten  21:39  
Right, right. Yeah, instead of the self fulfilling prophecy, right? Which sometimes can happen if we have that on our radar of oh, well, it’s inevitable that we’re going to, you know, break up at some point, like, then that kind of keeps us from nourishing the relationship, you know, intentionally, in some ways. And so, I just think that that’s really interesting that we share that common common thing. And I think that that might be common for a lot of people listening to that maybe this is an “aha moment” for them as well, like it was for me. So anyway.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  22:17  
I’m so glad. And I want to follow up and say that with the utmost conviction, based on my personal experience, and also coaching hundreds and hundreds of couples, that having a fantastic relationship is a learnable skill. 

Jessi Sletten  22:38  
I love that. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  22:40  
This is good news. And really, the main reason that relationships are so troubled, generally speaking, I mean, either, you know, explicitly troubled, or just not thriving, and empowering, as you might say, is because of a lack of education. And I’m very sympathetic, because where is somebody going to get that education, if we’re talking specifically about how to nurture a sexual relationship over years and decades? That is not taught. It’s not part of Sex Ed, if one even has Sex Ed these days, it’s only you know, it’s a minority of states that even require anatomically accurate sex and and churches and other religious institutions offer something but not the answers really, for how to cultivate an experience of pleasure and have passion grow, both in the postpartum period and all of the many years thereafter. So I think, really, for anyone who wants more in their relationship, it’s not the first question is not, did I marry the wrong person? The first question is, okay, what do I need to learn, in order for this to be more of what I desire? And once one really goes far with that, often, the partner ends up changing too, because as I change, or as you change, we change the culture of our marriage. And once the culture is different, then everyone in it shows up more advantageously unless the culture has changed in a negative way.

Jessi Sletten  24:41  
Yeah, no, I love that idea of it’s a learnable skill. That mirrors a lot of things and postpartum I feel because, you know, in our culture, specifically to more westernized culture, the postpartum period is something nobody anticipates or understands until we’re in the thick of it, right? Because we just don’t have that model of a village, right or this community like we used to in the past or that more traditional cultures have where they view this timeframe as a sacred thing as something that does not just affect the baby, right? I say so often like us as birthgivers, we often are seen as an extension to the baby, during this timeframe, we’re not seen as an individual going through these experiences, or asked how we are developing as a person, you know, after birth. And I think that it’s a powerful thing to believe that, okay, learning how to parent learning who I am now, in this new phase of life, learning how to chest or breastfeed, if that’s something that you want to do, they’re all learnable skills, right. And just because it might not come naturally, or just because we weren’t taught these things, you know, by our parents or culture around us, doesn’t mean that we have to just settle with, oh, this is the way it is, or, you know, like I, I, it’s just something that I really believe strongly in as well, that there’s, there’s nothing that we can’t learn, right, and it is a learnable skill, and there are resources out there, some of them might be hard to find, where we don’t know where to look. So I’m so happy that somebody like you exists, where, you know, you’ve learned from your own experiences, you’ve you’ve been able to get training and doing all these things. And then now we’re kind of passing on that knowledge. And we’re making that more available for more people to be able to improve our lives and the relationships.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  26:38  
Yeah, absolutely. And so I think, in order to rekindle the spark, kind of tap into passion in the postpartum period, I think it’s really important to even define what we’re talking about. Because it’s certainly possible that, you know, a week after giving birth, a woman wants to have sex, but that is very, very rare. And so the question is, what can happen? Before she’s ready for whatever it was that led to this baby being? Well, I shouldn’t say it that way. You know, because, of course, it could be IVF, or all kinds of things. So let me just say that, you know, maintaining intimacy, and keeping the spark alive in the postpartum period, does not necessarily mean sexual intercourse, and often doesn’t. But I think what can happen is, if we’re not available for sexual intercourse, as women, then we’re not available for any of the other elements that are such an important part of a sexy relationship. And I think our partners feel that rejection very profoundly in a way that they may think it’s about whether or not there’s intercourse or not. But it also has to do with emotional feelings and physical feelings that aren’t explicitly sexual. So I think, during the postpartum period, just having time to say, this is how I feel without fixing anything. 

Jessi Sletten  28:32  
Yes! 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  28:33  
And also having room for the other partner to say, this is how I feel, without, with it just being really understood that actually, nothing needs to change, just by being able to bring your experience into the relationship. That is enough of a change. And it eases tension. And it has both people feeling more seen and welcomed into the next phase of the relationship. So that is one thing. And when having a conversation, it’s really important to say what the purpose is. Because if I say to my husband, let’s say I’m four weeks postpartum, and I say to my husband, I’m feeling so disconnected. He’s going to feel offended, he’s going to either think he’s doing something wrong, he’s going to shut down, he’s going to be inadequate, or he’s going to be resentful. He’s going to be angry, whatever it is, is going to depend on his personality. But most people when their partner says, I feel so disconnected in a sleep deprived stress context. It’s not the most generous answer or internal response that follows. But if I say “I really want to be connected with you, and find our way back to feeling really good, are you open for a conversation where we can try to do that?” then my husband is going to be listening, understanding what my underlying point is, rather than responding to whatever words I say that could easily be taken in many different ways. So I think, with communication, it’s just really important to clarify, you know, you’re not blaming, you’re not attacking, because you shouldn’t be doing those things. You’re just sharing how you feel. And the only thing you need afterwards is a hug. Or maybe you don’t want a hug, I just want to know that you know, what’s going on with me, and I’m interested to know what’s going on with you, just really getting clear about the purpose is to massively improve the impact of that conversation. So that’s one thing. And then the other thing that I really want to have people know, is the importance of non sexual physical touch. Because as I was saying earlier, if sex is off the table, many couples respond to that by taking touch off the table. 

Jessi Sletten  28:33  
Yeah. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  28:59  
Or even if, let’s say, you know, in a heteronormative context, the husband is offering a back massage, you know, shoulder massage, because the shoulders get, you know, hold the baby all the time.

Jessi Sletten  31:37  
Yeah, hunched over.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  31:39  
And, but many women will think, Well, if I say yes to that, then I’m gonna have to have sex, or I’m gonna end up having to, like, make sure he knows it’s only my like, it’s just sort of a pain. And it’s easier to say no, but we all know, right? A 30 second hug gets the oxytocin flowing. And sure oxytocin flowing from breastfeeding is wonderful. But in terms of the oxytocin and connectedness with a partner, nonsexual physical touch, is so significant during the postpartum period. It’s a kind of generous touch, not a transactional touch, not a taking touch, but just a caring touch.

Jessi Sletten  32:26  
I love that so much. And I’d love to expand on that just a little bit. Because I think the, the folks that I work with, right, and myself included even, we feel so touched out, right? Like, especially when we are caring 24/7 for this little baby who maybe he’s, you know, attached to the breast all the time, right? Or we’re just constantly being touched or demanded for our physical presence right for from another human being. What would your advice be around reconciling that feeling of I am so touched out to knowing you crave that generous touch, like you’re talking about? Is it? Is it about like the conversations that you have with your partner about those different types of touches? Or where would you say, you know, we could kind of turn to as far as communicating that difference or reconciling that feeling within ourselves?

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  33:21  
It’s a really beautiful question. I’m sure most postpartum women can relate. And my answer is nuanced. It this is not one of these like soundbite moments where it’s just very simple. So the, the thing I want to convey is that when we are touched out, we are using our body, like a tool to accomplish things. It’s like, okay, you know, I have the stroller, I have the bottle, I have my body to make things happen. And that leads to a sense of being touched out, because we’re not really paying attention to our own experience in our body, or experience of our senses. We’re using our body as a functional vehicle. And of course, postpartum bodies are incredible functional vehicles. It’s very understandable that we would relate to our bodies in that way. But the kind of touch which is nourishing and generative, and relaxing is a much more receptive touch. And one where we’re in our bodies more it’s a more embodied feeling. Does that make sense? Like what what I mean by that is like, let’s say I’m carrying the baby and I’m feeling touched out. But it’s because when I’m carrying the baby, I’m really paying attention to the baby. 

Jessi Sletten  35:07  
Mmhm. Yeah. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  35:09  
As opposed to there’s sometimes are moments with a baby, and certainly with a partner where I’m just like, feeling the baby on my chest. I’m aware of my own breathing, I’m aware of just feeling relaxed. And it’s a much more sensual experience, not sexual but sensual, I’m feeling the touch, maybe the sounds the baby’s making are just allowing them to delight me, and just being mesmerized looking at the baby. How they smell like, it’s the way we might look at a rose right in that is a kind of nourishing, physical touch, as opposed to feeling like, you know, the baby needs to be held carefully, and the baby needs to be upright. You know, like all the attention on the baby, then, yeah, that can be tiring. So really, what I’m saying is the difference between feeling touched out and any touch just being too much, versus the kind of touch which is nourishing, and has us relax and feel cared for. One of my all time favorite expressions is “mothering the mother” to be able to receive and be nourished. The main difference in those two is our own attention. Now, when we’re with a partner, yes, they may need to learn how to touch in a way that contributes to this. And I will say a little bit about that in a moment. But the biggest difference in feeling touched out versus experiencing nourishing touch is allowing ourselves to be receiving rather than giving, which is fundamentally a shift in our attention.

Jessi Sletten  37:19  
I love that so much. One of one of my, like idols, I guess I would say during my my journey of becoming a postpartum coach, and CLC, and all these things that I’ve done, one of her things that she taught us. And one of the classes I was in was, you know, “postpartum is a time of receiving” so much of our life is about giving, right and so much of us think about the postpartum timeframe has a time of giving, and sacrifice and all of these things, because we have this baby who can’t do anything on its own right. And so we automatically shift into that mindset of, I am in giving mode 24/7. But the reality is, postpartum is a time where we need the most nurturing the most support, the most just time to reconnect with our bodies to heal our bodies to nourish our bodies. So I love that, that you kind of made that connection of, of the touch being similar because I think it is something that we have to shift in our own mind and allow ourselves to receive. So I love that so much.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  38:29  
Yeah, most couples, it’s new, because there’s a lot about sex, which either can feel self centered and self sacrificing. Those two are paired, or transactional, like, fundamentally, I give you an orgasm, you give me one, or I make this feel good for you make this feel good for me. But there’s a real art, whether it’s sexual or non sexual touch, for taking your pleasure from the touch, there’s, there’s like, generous giving touch that the partner can give. And there’s also I think, this is with a partner or not to learn to, like, take pleasure from the touch you’re experiencing. And maybe this isn’t exactly what I was saying. But this is related. Like just how we wash our face. You know, that is a place that can be functional, like let’s just, you know [rubs face quickly] we’re right, caress our face and make it a essentially a rich experience. Not that we’re about to like, you know, be in orgasmic bliss, but you can have, like it does not take any longer to just slow down and wash your face with care as opposed to just like, you know, do it and 

Jessi Sletten  40:03  
Getting it done. Right. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  40:04  
Yeah. And I think that the more we can turn our attention, whether we’re touching ourselves in any kind of way, or touching our baby, or our older children, or experiencing touch with a partner, that when we just slow down and let ourselves experience it, let ourselves receive it. Being touched out is just less of a thing.

Jessi Sletten  40:36  
Mmhmm. Yeah, I feel like it, it’s really that presence within our body. And, you know, we’re so used to being up here, right? We were planning ahead, we’re “okay. You know, the next time I need to feed, feed the babies in about two hours. So I have to chug down this food, because it’s the only time I’m gonna be able to eat really quick and, okay, you know, I’m going to run to the bathroom, because, you know, the baby is gonna cry any minute.” And so it’s very much like living up here and not being connected to our physical experience and our own bodies. And I think there’s a lot to be said around that too, because we can have some disconnect around our bodies and some feelings around that after birth, you know, the way our body has changed the way our body is feeling, you know, as it’s healing, all these things. And so I feel like there’s this resistance to being in our body, present, and experiencing what we’re feeling around us and within us. And I think that that I’ve never thought about it really, in that way for the feeling touched out peace, because I’ve never made that connection until we’ve had this conversation. And I think that that is, it’s really, an intriguing idea is that, you know, we really just need to pause, slow down, feel what it feels like to just be in our body in that moment, whether it’s a sexual touch, or it’s just a I’m sitting here enjoying my coffee, I’m feeling the warmth in my hands, I’m feeling you know, the liquid go down into my throat, and it’s very soothing, and, you know, just really connecting that mind-body experience. And I think that’s really interesting.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  42:12  
Yeah, and I think what you’re saying is, uh, you know, it’s, it’s especially true or true in a particular way, when the birth has been traumatic when we’ve had surgery and didn’t want it or there are all kinds of ways in which birth can be traumatic, and with the traumatic element, that’s a way in which we like, back away from our body. And so to find our way back into our own body, is really the thing that prepares the way to reconnect sexually. Because if we aim to reconnect sexually, prior to really re-inhabiting our body in a way that includes whatever our birth experience was, that the sex that comes is always going to be a little dissatisfying because we’re not all in it because we’re still dissociated or disconnected in a particular way. And I want to add, it’s like part of what we’re talking about, that one of the best ways to get the spark sparkling is to be goalless. Like if I think one of the causes of real dissatisfaction with sexual experiences postpartum is when one or both people have it in their head, you know, tonight is the night we’re gonna have sex either the first time or again, whatever, you know, anytime really, in that first year even know, like, this is what’s going to happen. And so then, if for any number of reasons, the baby wakes up, something hurts one or both of you fall asleep partway, like there’s so many different reasons why you might not have a comprehensive sexual experience. It’s so important not to see that as a failure. And the main way to get there is just bring more deliciousness enjoying each moment, and less goal oriented, sexual activity and I’m not talking about like seconds before the orgasm, you stop like that is genuinely dissatisfying but just like exploring one another’s bodies, just to reacquaint or to really make out with like, wonderful romantic kissing. Yeah, understanding that it’s not necessarily going somewhere you can be like middle school or high school and don’t go to all four bases just to that, that having the purpose of sexual connection be sexually connected rather than completing some particular activity actually makes it more likely that those activities will be completed. And it just diminishes the tension that arises, when they don’t like, have it if you’re going to be touching one another, set it up so that no matter how far you go with that you feel closer afterwards. And not disconnected.

Jessi Sletten  45:44  
Yeah, oh, I love that so much. My gosh, we could be talking about this for hours. Because I just think it’s so important for us to understand, like, we do have some control in this area, right? And it starts with our own healing our own reconnection with our bodies. And if we’re not there yet with ourselves, how can we open ourselves up with our partners, and I think that that’s a really important thing for us to kind of take away from this conversation is reacquainting yourself with your own body, understanding your feelings and how that connects to your physical reactions. And just the the mind and body connection, right, and really trying to nurture that within yourself. Is that first step, I think, is what I’m hearing from you, you know, to be able to have that reestablish connection with your partner too that kind of, am I getting that right?

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  46:43  
Absolutely!

Jessi Sletten  46:43  
Okay! 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  46:44  
Yeah, that may not sound sexy, but it certainly paves the way for more sexiness. And if you just head back into the sex, sometimes that works. Like if someone is listening, and they’re gonna go for it, go for it. But more often, there’s, this is another way to describe exactly what you’ve just said, which is that between when, you know, nine months before the baby’s born, and then when the baby’s born, and the months afterwards, you’ve become a different person, whether it’s your first child, or your ninth child, like you have become a different person, your relationship with your body has included many new chapters and phases. And the place where things get wonky is when you aim to have sex the way you had it before. But then there’s all of this individual growth, which is not included in the sexual experience, but that individual growth is part of who you are, you’re a different person now. And so the exploration and all the ways we’ve been talking about is really, how do you bring all of you into your sexual experiences rather than leaving parts unattended to or ignored? 

Jessi Sletten  48:14  
Yes, yes.

Jessi Sletten  48:15  
Oh, my gosh, yes, I, I talk so much about how we change on a cellular level, right with each pregnancy. And then we’re changing and developing our new identity and understanding that we’re unbecoming and becoming this new version of ourselves, you know, throughout all these experiences, and it’s so true that that’s going to translate into all the areas of our life and all the connections and relationships that we hold within our for ourselves and with our partners and with our children and all these things. So I, I couldn’t agree more that it’s this. Yeah, that it starts internally, right. And it’s recognizing I am a different version of myself than I was before pregnancy. And that’s okay. And that’s a beautiful thing. And there are parts of it that I might need to mourn. Because it is feels like a loss in some ways with certain things. And I always say you got to feel you got to feel all the feels right. If you, if you don’t let yourself feel all of them and recognize them, then that’s when they start building up and we start having negative feelings about ourselves and our relationships and aren’t able to move past them in a healthy way.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  49:34  
Exactly. I love that, your whole platform is empowering postpartum because we’re really talking about wholeness, empowerment, sovereignty, in a way that integrates all the new recent experiences.

Jessi Sletten  49:49  
Yes, oh my goodness. Absolutely. Well, I would love to see if you have any other like little tidbits of you know, advice or Ways that you know, our viewership can kind of take something away and kind of apply to their own, you know, sexual experiences with their partners or just reconnecting with their partners. And the last few minutes here, if you have any other little aha moments to inspire.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  50:17  
Yeah, I think that what is essential for the postpartum mother is, knowing what she wants what’s important to her, and not counting on a partner being a mind reader. So this is true for women at all phases of life. And it certainly is true in the postpartum period, that the first thing is really to know what you want to feel worthy of having it, to receive it. And I want to really highlight, learning to ask for it. So it feels good to give it to you. Yeah, and this is true, with respect to your partner bringing you more water. And it’s also true with respect to any of the desires that you would have when it comes to sex and sexuality. He’s not going to know that you need to be touched differently, unless you communicate that in a respectful way. So it feels really good to do that.

Jessi Sletten  51:12  
Yeah. That’s so true. Yep. Communication, and how we communicate is really, really powerful. And having that safety. They’re built through that vulnerability. I think, like, leading from example, being vulnerable, being willing to be maybe the first person to be the vulnerable person in the conversation. You know, it’s an it’s an inviting bid to your partner versus feeling like, Oh, I did something wrong, or, you know, she’s angry with me, or oh, gosh, you know, like, getting defensive, like you said before, so I yeah, I think that that’s a really key piece for sure.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  52:03  
It can be wonderful. Like, that’s my pith, it can be wonderful.

Jessi Sletten  52:09  
Right? It doesn’t have to be a chore.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  52:12  
And if sex is a chore or a duty, please watch this all again.

Jessi Sletten  52:18  
Yes. Yes, I love that so much. And get Alexandra’s book because it sounds like there are some really awesome things that we can all learn from that book for sure.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  52:30  
Yeah, it’s called “Uncompromising Intimacy”. And it is really about communication and presence. It’s not about sex positions at all. But it is all of the things that set you up, to feel more closeness and connection so that the sexual piece comes more easily because in a committed relationship, where you’re living together, emotional intimacy is a prerequisite for really enjoying sexual intimacy.

Jessi Sletten  52:58  
That is so true. Yes. Oh, my goodness. I love that so much. So if you know, folks, obviously, they have your book that they can buy. I’m assuming that’s on Amazon, or where’s the best places to find it?

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  53:09  
Yes it is. Amazon and audible.

Jessi Sletten  53:11  
Perfect. Oh, yay, we love we love audiobooks. As parents, right? We don’t have time to sit down and read as often as we would like. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  53:19  
It’s not that long of a book.

Jessi Sletten  53:21  
Perfect. Yes, that’s great. And where else could folks connect with you? If they want to work with you further or kind of follow your material? Where can they find you on the social channels.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  53:32  
Alexandrastockwell.com is my website. And from there, you can find links to all of my social media where I’m pretty active. I have a podcast, “The Intimate Marriage Podcast”, and also online programs, as well as private coaching. You can find all of that at Alexandra stockwell.com. Perfect.

Jessi Sletten  53:53  
Well, thank you so much, Alexandra, this was such an amazing conversation. I know personally, I’ve taken a lot from this have a lot of “aha moments” myself, and it’s just been so wonderful getting to hear your expertise and wisdom and connecting with you. So thank you so much for being willing to come on to the show.

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  54:12  
Thank you for navigating such a beautiful conversation. I really appreciate it.

Jessi Sletten  54:17  
Absolutely. Well, my beautiful life creators remember that empowering postpartum coaching guides new and pregnant moms through the transition into motherhood so that you can bond with baby without sacrificing your own self care. And if this is something you’re wanting for your postpartum shoot me a DM on Instagram, my handles up here at empowering underscore postpartum, we can chat about how I can help support you through your journey and how we can make sure that you’re feeling seen, heard, validated, nourished, nurtured all the things that we’ve talked about today, and really starting that personal journey so that you can be connected to your baby and your partner in the most vulnerable and beautiful way.

Jessi Sletten  55:00  
And remember that the show can also be heard on the Spanglish Radio Network, please check out Spanglishworld.ca for all the news and programming, Spanglish World. Watch it, hear it, read it, download it and live it. And thank you again. I really appreciate it our conversation Alexandra, this was wonderful. 

Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, MD  55:20  
Thank you as well, Jessi.

Jessi Sletten 55:21
Thank you and we’ll see you all next week.