Written by Genie Price
So, you just welcomed a new baby! Congratulations. But what is it that most women think about after a baby? For most, it’s not sex, in fact, it’s more than likely to be sleep!
And, while leaky breasts and sleepless nights will impact on your sexual relationship – don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t have to be the be all and end all. It’s at these times where patience is key and a little understanding can go a long way to preparing you to have your “first time” all over again.
How soon can I have sex?
Whether your new bundle arrived naturally or by C-section, recovering from the birth of your newborn can take some time. While most midwives will advise that you can resume sex as early as 4-6 weeks after the birth, hormones can wreak havoc on your body and affect how you feel about yourself and the “S” word.
The only timeline is your own:
Although intimacy is important in a relationship, so is how you feel about it.
During the post-partum process, take your time to assess the array of emotions you are experiencing and put these at the forefront. If you’re not sure about something – ask for help from a professional. Also, remember –
- Don’t compare yourself to others who you may find are not being truthful about their situation in the first place
- Don’t feel pressured, by anyone. Many women report having sex after pregnancy before they were ready – with “being pressured” one of the main reasons
- Don’t feel like you should “get it over and done with” as this can lead to an uncomfortable experience (if your body isn’t ready) and then may lead to more feelings of resentment and frustration at a later date
- Not wanting or feeling like being intimate is perfectly natural occurrence
How does each type of birth affect sex?
Having a baby affects woman differently and just because you may not be ready to dive back into the sack straight away, doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner.
Helping him to understand what’s happening to your body is a good way to establish what you are comfortable exploring.
Here are a few things to discuss with your partner:
- Having a natural birth will mean you will be tired and with tiredness comes lack of confidence
- You may have experienced a tear or “cut” during labour (episiotomy) and need stitches, therefore, you will feel sore. Your partner will need to be patient, as after two weeks, soreness should have reduced and by six weeks, post-partum bleeding would have stopped.
- Natural birth can also leave you feeling bruised and tender in and around the vagina. After the green light has been given, ensure that you are well aroused and lubricated and ask your man to take it easy.
- Unfortunately, for various reasons, sex after childbirth – can hurt. Hormonal changes may cause a dry, tender vagina, especially if you’re breastfeeding. After a C-section – you have a new scar to be mindful of and tears and bruising from labour if you went all natural.
- If you had a C-section, you may have concerns about resuming sex again. You might be worried about sporting a new scar or whether that wound will hurt during sex. Talk your fears through with him and if you have to replace the “man on top” position, you can always try spooning for a gentler approach.
- Using these first few weeks to get to know your baby is a good idea. Knowing your baby will mean you can choose a time when you’re least likely to be disturbed – after a feed, for example. In the long run, enabling a smoother transition back into intimacy.
Other techniques for easing discomfort:
- Start with cuddling, kissing or massage, to help with lubrication
- Start slow and gradually build the intensity of stimulation
- Be inventive and try different positions to take pressure off any sore areas and control penetration
- Gently explore your own vagina to find if there are any areas which may hurt
- If all else fails – try alternatives to vaginal intercourse, such as oral or manual stimulation, at least until healing is complete.
- Tell your partner what does and doesn’t feel good – this will help with avoiding any pain
- Try emptying your bladder or take a warm bath beforehand
- Take pain relief beforehand if you think it will help
But, most importantly, try to have fun while focussing on the task at hand – not the dirty nappies, the laundry or any other household chores!
NB: If sex continues to be painful, consult your doctor about treatment options.
Will it feel different?
After childbirth, decreased muscle tone in the vagina might occur. This can reduce pleasurable friction during sex and therefore, make it feel different. However, this is usually only temporary.
What can help?
Kegel exercises can!
For more information on Kegel exercises please see: http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/pelvic-floor-muscle-exercises-for-women.html
Intimacy and lack of can impact any relationship. But, getting used to a new baby and a new life with a baby can take some adjustment. By being open and honest with your partner – should help ease any anxieties you have.
While it’s important to take care of your relationship in a sexual sense, what’s most important is that you also take care of own well-being.
Enjoy your new baby and when you are ready – you can have the best of both worlds.