Sex after birth isn’t something everyone is interested in, at least not right away. Whether you want to jump back to having sex immediately or never want to think about sex again it is still good to think about intimacy. Intimacy does not have to mean sex and can help strengthen your relationship with your spouse. Life with a newborn can be exhausting, emotional, and a strain on your relationship with your partner. To help lessen all of these make sure you make time to be intimate; this can help improve your mood, hormones, and your relationship.
Being intimate after your baby is born can be as simple as holding hands in a free moment, or having your partner sit with you while you feed the baby. Touch from someone that loves you, even if it doesn’t end in sex, can cause both of you to be happier—and it can relieve stress. Draw a warm bath to relax in together after the baby is in bed. If baths aren’t your thing you can give each other a back massage. These small intimate moments may eventually lead to sex, but they don’t have to!
If all you can think about is sex that is fine too. Doctors recommend waiting 4-6 weeks or at least until your postpartum visit confirms your cervix is fully closed. This allows your body time to heal and applies whether you have had a vaginal or cesarean birth. Having sex before the cervix is fully closed increases your chance of infection and can result in pregnancy if you aren’t using protection; this is how we get Irish twins! If you absolutely cannot wait until your postpartum visit, make sure you use birth control of some kind. Even if you haven’t had a period yet it is possible to get pregnant.
When you are cleared and ready to have sex again there are a few things you will want to consider. Sex after birth can be uncomfortable at first as you are sore down there and you may have had stitches due to a tear. If you have sex after your discharge stops you may be drier than usual and should have a water based lube on hand to avoid discomfort. Your cervix may have also changed position which can cause sex to feel different and possibly painful at first. Another new thing to be prepared for is the possibility of lactating during sex. When you breastfeed, the hormone oxytocin is released, this same hormone is released during sex and can cause you to leak.
It is okay if you feel self conscious with your body after birth. But you just did something miraculous with your body and created a new life. This took 9 months and it can take 9 months or more to get back close to where you were. Some women bounce back quickly while others never do. If you never get back into those old jeans it doesn’t mean you haven’t lost the ‘baby-weight’, there is a chance that your hips widened with pregnancy and birth and won’t ever go back—this is normal! If you are feeling vulnerable and this is causing you to put sex or intimacy on hold, be open and talk to your partner about how you are feeling. I have constantly complained about my body since my daughter was born and every time I mention it to my husband he tells me how beautiful I am and points out he doesn’t look like he did when we got married either. It helps knowing that he didn’t expect me to ‘shrink back’ to my pre-pregnancy size and still enjoys being intimate with me. Some partners are even more attracted to their wives during the pregnancy and postpartum period—this can be a biological response to having watched you create, grow, and birth your baby.
The biggest thing about intimacy after birth is being vulnerable and having open conversations with your partner about how you are feeling. And consider this; he may be too tired for sex at this point too! This is why talking is important so you can understand how you are both feeling and what expectations you may both have.
Next I will be blogging on the letter J… J is for Job.