The very last thing I ever thought I would do again after I gave birth to my first child was resume a sex life! I vowed NOTHING would ever enter there again. I had 3 more children after that so I obviously didn’t adhere to that vow! I remember being scared, tense and wondering what did other women do?
There are many reactions to resuming a sex life after birth. The recommendation from a health perspective is to wait until 6 weeks for a postnatal check and to allow healing to take place. This is particularly true if you have had an episiotomy or have stitches or a tear as you are more at risk of haemorrhage and infection. This is also true if you are still bleeding. The uterus resumes its normal size and position following birth within 6 weeks. The other point to be aware of is that you CAN get pregnant. It happens…Check out your contraceptive choices here:
Apart from these points everything else is so individual. Women describe feelings of nervousness and fear to feelings of intense arousal. Regarding a time frame?- couples can resume their intimate relationship – (not necessarily full penetration) from days to months and up to a year.
Here are tips to consider if and when you contemplate doing the deed post birth.
- Bleeding can continue for up to 6 weeks after birth – not continuously but on and off. Some women bleed for 2 weeks others up to 6 weeks. Bleeding becomes a brown discharge and can become red again – often a sign of doing too much. Listen to your body. Let your body heal especially if you have any tears or an episiotomy. This is also true if you have had a c section.
- Breastfeeding – the effect of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin can dampen your sex drive and also reduce vaginal lubrication. It is very normal for couples to use lube to make intimacy more comfortable and pleasurable for months after birth. If you’re using condoms make sure that the lube is water based – otherwise coconut oil is an excellent lubricant. Your breasts may be feeling large and heavy if you’re breastfeeding. Just a warning! ..sometimes breasts leak milk during arousal and orgasm.
- The vagina is stretched during birth and is amazing in its recovery. Recovery is affected by birth experience, genetics and the number of babies you have had. What does it feel like? sensations described vary completely like everything else. Some women describe it as a feeling of tenderness sharpness or less than it did before. Of course these sensations are affected by how relaxed you feel and of course how lubricated your vagina is. Equally the sensations change as time goes by and healing continues.
- If you have had a c section all of the above applies regarding bleeding. lubrication and breasts. There is also a matter of caring for your abdominal scar which will remain tender for months. Different positions can take the pressure off the c section site.
- The first 8 weeks are an emotional roller coaster due to hormones, tiredness and the whole upheaval of having a new baby. Dads experience lots of emotions during the first weeks too. After this time hormones start to settle down. Experiencing postnatal depression has a very big impact on physical and emotional health and very often libido is low. If you suspect you’re experiencing postnatal depression – seek help sooner rather than later.
- Connection is the key to having an enjoyable experience – Connection is reliant on communication and sharing honestly where each of you is at – Knowing that there are no rights and wrongs to resuming your intimate relationship after the birth of your baby.
- Keep communication open – share what feels good, what feels scary. Talk to your partner about your worries and fears.
- Sharing intimacy doesn’t have to be about full intercourse- get creative and enjoy the relaxation of focusing on what feels good. Warm up – take it as far as you want to – slow and easy. Have a bath, massage, foot rub perhaps a glass of wine (depending on your feeding choice).
- Intense fatigue and self consciousness are probably the biggest sex stoppers! All the badges of motherhood – weight gain, stretch marks, jelly belly are just that – badges to be worn with pride. I promise you – you will look back on your post birth body with a real sense of pride and appreciation. Most men don’t see those things we are often conscious of.
So these are just some of the considerations for resuming your sex life following birth. The first time may be a bit of a ‘disaster’ and you may make several attempts, the baby might wake up ( regardless of the time of day ). It may feel forced and clunky, some areas may be off limits but it is what it is…If after a year you have not resumed your sexual relationship it may be worth seeking some professional help.