Exploring Postpartum Sexual Health in Nova Scotia Using Feminist Poststructuralism
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Sexual health is a critical component of health throughout a person’s lifespan. Postpartum individuals may experience many changes to their sexual health, including emotional or physical issues. However, little is known about how postpartum sexual health is experienced from a non-physical lens. As such, there is a need to move beyond the physical and focus on the mental, emotional, social, and relational aspects of sexual health and their subsequent effects on postpartum individuals’ experiences, feelings, and functioning after childbirth. The purpose of this research was to explore how postpartum individuals in Nova Scotia experience their sexual health during the first six months after birth, as well as how those experiences are influenced and negotiated through relations of power. Feminist poststructuralism and feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis guided this inquiry. Three key issues emerged. These included: 1) Renegotiating the Postpartum Body: Identity, Image, Meaning, & Function; 2) Choosing to Resume Sexual Activity: Feeling Ready; and 3) Feeling Connected: Desire, Intimacy, and Support. The issues presented were very much interwoven and influenced by certain social and institutional discourses. This research identified how postpartum individuals create unique meaning of and within their sexual health.