Finally, the baby is born! Congratulations! The toughest postpartum period (the first two weeks) has passed.
The obvious question while you recover postpartum would be: “When can I start having sex with my husband again?”, right?
Surprisingly, many women tend to ask the opposite question: “How can I avoid having sex with my husband, like, ever?”
Although I don’t have the answer to the second question in this article, I do explain why you can ask yourself about it and why it is actually quite normal.
Here’s the rough statistics:
More marriages break up in the first 18 months after childbirth than at any other time.
I have a strong feeling that sex (or better say lack of it) is the major contributor to this fact. What happens to the sex life after baby? No one would ever tell you. It’s all hidden behind the closed doors of every family’s house.
Yet so many women search for support and reassurance. So many women are actually lost and can’t find their way back to the sex drive and enjoyment they had before baby. So many women lose connection with their husbands (not only sexual, but it could start from there).
Now, I would like to shed some light on the topic and encourage you for discussion. I’m writing this article in order to answer the most common questions about postpartum sex women are interested in yet afraid to ask. I try to share my own experience as well where possible. Read on and don’t forget to shoot a comment below unveiling your own experience to reassure mommas who are looking for support.
When can I start having sex with my husband after childbirth?
It depends on many factors, but mainly, on how many interventions you had during labor (was there an episiotomy?), the tearing down there, the postpartum bleeding.
It is best to rely both on your doctor’s conclusion after the first postpartum checkup and your own feelings down there. But even if these two conditions are met, I personally suggest the best time to return to sexual life no earlier than six weeks after childbirth. Why? Because your lady parts need a complete healing after what they’ve gone through. When it comes to the first couple of times, give preference to more gentle sexual relations and positions with the easiest entry (you know what I mean!).
What if my first postpartum sex hurts?
In most cases, this might be a natural consequence of episiotomy (surgical dissection of the perineum during labor) or tearing during childbirth. Often they lead to some psychological issues a new mom is experiencing, which is the fear of sexual intercourse because of the pain that may follow.
Many women also experience reduced lubrication, that is, a lack of moisturizing the genital tract due to low estrogen levels and mental exhaustion. The best thing you can do to help is try to relax as much as possible and use lubricants to smooth things out when you have sex.
What if I don’t want to have sex, should I make myself do it to satisfy my husband?
Forcing yourself is definitely not worth it, because it may do more harm than good and lead you towards sexual aversion and lack of sexual enjoyment. What I find absolutely necessary is creating a favorable atmosphere for sex.
It is, for example, having a good night sleep (or at least having SOME sleep), taking a relaxing bath, asking your husband to massage your back (or whichever part of your body that needs extra attention from your loving husband!), watching your photo albums together.
You may suggest your option for creating a good climate for sex in comments below. Let’s inspire each other!
What if I have no interest in sex anymore?
This might happen, which is totally normal and you don’t have to be afraid of it. Nature is wise and it thought everything through. Your libido experiencing a dip for a good reason during the first month postpartum. The newborn needs 24/7 care from you to survive. So your natural instinct for propagation, which is when you desire to have sex, turns down. Consequently, you have no interest in having sex (sometimes even a good deal of foreplay makes no difference), because your attention is currently switched to the “new mommy” role that you have no right to screw up.
In addition, you may experience some signs of postpartum depression accompanied by loss of identification and desocialization.
Here’s a great article revealing everything you should know about postpartum depression and how you can successfully deal with it.
Sex hurts. Should I tell my husband about it?
Clearly, you shouldn’t hold it back from your husband. However, the way you portray it really makes a difference. Try not to say it as if he is the one to blame for the pain you’re feeling. Make sure to hint in a gentle way that you’ve been experiencing quite a few discomforts down there and it would be really nice if he was as gentle and loving with you as possible. Ask for his support. Give your husband the analogy of a virgin, meaning that you’re now really fragile and need extra care down there. He’ll understand.
Is it true that the vagina becomes more stretched after childbirth and feels differently for a man during sex?
That’s true, indeed but only to a certain point. Usually, this physiological stretching of the vagina during childbirth is totally reversible, unless you had a birth trauma while delivering, like a severe tearing to the outer vagina. Generally, the first couple of times of having postpartum sex would feel weird and different for both partners. Some women even say they feel a complete numbness down there. No need to panic, though! It will all get better over time and some couples start enjoying sex even more after they had a baby.
Here’s what you can do to get your vagina back in shape after baby.
Is it hard to have an orgasm after childbirth?
At first, the sexual function is down. You may not want to have sex at all, which is totally normal. But over time you will recover both physically and mentally and even your prolactin levels spiking in your body won’t prevent you from wanting your husband, believe me, they won’t.
Yet, we are all SO different. No one could ever tell you if you have a hard time having an orgasm after childbirth and how intense your orgasms will be when they come back. Too much depends on your personal energy potential, physical and mental health, as well as your sexual constitution.
Here’s my experience
I hardly ever had any orgasms before I actually gave birth. Whereas after the childbirth I’ve gone through feeling a complete numbness with no desire to have sex any longer and no enjoyment in the process whatsoever to the most vivid and fulfilling sexual life I could have ever imagined (or maybe even couldn’t).
How did I do this?
- I didn’t push myself to start having sex and felt no guilt about it (I pray for my understanding husband!)
- I didn’t have false expectations about postpartum sex life many women tend to fall into
- I wasn’t discouraged by feeling no pleasure during sex in the first couple of months (I just knew it might be a physiological stage of postpartum changes in the body)
- I was sincere with my husband about what I felt, what I liked and didn’t like
- I started exploring my body all over again
- We changed positions during sex to find the most comfortable and enjoyable ones (and I was surprised by what they were!)
- We devoted more time to foreplay
- We set the mood for sex
- We never did it just because we needed to, which means that we could have had two or even three weeks with no sex on the agenda because I was exhausted, didn’t feel well or one of us just wasn’t in the mood – not always me! – with no regrets at all. Because the last thing you’d want is to make sex a scheduled activity just to have it. Talking about killing your sexual drive…
Do I need to use contraception while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can be one of the pretty effective contraception methods but only in right conditions.
Why does breastfeeding work as a birth control? Because of the hormonal changes that happen in your body. Prolactin, a specific hormone that is responsible for milk production, keeps your estrogen levels down preventing your ovaries from ovulating (that’s why you also have extra dryness of the vagina). So now you’ve got a natural method of birth control in action that has been used by many women for centuries. When breastfeeding is used as contraception, it’s called the lactational amenorrhoea.
When does the lactational amenorrhoea method work?
- your baby is on exclusive breastfeeding or breastfeeding on demand
- your baby nurses at least two times during the night
- the gap between your nursing sessions is no longer than 4 hours in the daytime and 6 hours during the night
- your period hasn’t returned yet
Oftentimes, when you start introducing solids to your baby, he doesn’t want to nurse as often as before (it wasn’t my case, though!) and may start sleeping through the night. This all means that you will breastfeed less often. Consequently, less prolactin will be released in your body. Thus, you may get back to being fertile again.
When you stop exclusive breastfeeding or breastfeeding on demand, it’s nice to have some backup and not rely on LA as an effective birth control alone.
The best thing to do in this case is to talk to your GP to get individual advice.
Here’s my experience
My baby was on EB for 6 months. After I started introducing solids, he was still breastfeeding on demand, which was pretty often, so-to-speak. I nursed him at least three times during the night, too. This lasted for 1.7 years up until I weaned my child. I didn’t have a single period before that time.
So I went on a scheduled appointment with my GP at 1.6 years postpartum (still breastfeeding on demand), where he made an ultrasound just to make sure that I still had a lactational amenorrhea, which I did. But even knowing that I used some backup for birth control because having another baby wasn’t in my plans that time. As soon as I stopped breastfeeding, a month after I had my first postpartum period (which was not painful at all – yay! I used to have the most severe cramps during my pre-pregnancy periods).
When does my sex life get back to what it was pre-pregnancy?
“It’s really important to acknowledge that sex is gonna feel different, and to cut yourself some slack,” says Steph Montgomery, a writer, women’s health activist, and mother of five.
Yes, sex after baby may feel different, but it may not as well. In the first case, eventually, you’ll come to the point where you feel no difference in ‘before’ and ‘after’.
It is roughly estimated that the full recovery takes up to two years. But if your ‘sexual rehabilitation’ doesn’t have a positive dynamics within approximately six months or a year after childbirth, the problem should be taken seriously. You may even want to schedule an appointment with a psychologist or a sex therapist. Although, I would start with getting a little more creative in the bedroom…
Postpartum sex is hard from the very perspective of the word “sex”, because:
a) good sex needs time, which you usually run short of
b) good sex needs energy, which again, you almost always have none (maybe try to have sex in your baby’s nap time instead of the evening?);
c) good sex needs the spark, especially when you have the sticky breast milk spots all over your shirt, dirty hair and no makeup (maybe you could try it in the shower?); – it’s not shaming! I’ve just been there, so I know what I’m talking about. You can’t look 100% of the day like a supermodel straight from the runway. When you’re a mom (a new mom! with a newborn!) this is NOT possible.
d) good sex is about finding the right position, which may be trickier than you think when it comes to having sex after baby (but you should keep trying!).
e) good sex is communication (but sometimes we’re just not in the mood to talk, yet we should ALWAYS say what there is to be said)
Is there anything else? I’m sure there is. You can suggest it in comments below! I would love to read some feedback from you.
Can sex after childbirth become more intense and satisfying than it was pre-pregnancy?
The short answer to this question would be: yes, it can! That is exactly what happened to me. Moreover, there is a lot of positive feedback I hear all the time from women who started having regular orgasms only after giving birth (me included). Childbirth is a good “hormonal shake”, and let’s be honest, pushing something that big through your vagina can bring fresh perspectives to how sex actually feels (surprisingly, in a good way!).
“There seems to be some evidence that nerve compression from the trauma of birth can increase a woman’s orgasmic sensitivity in a positive way,” says Kat Van Kirk, a clinical sexologist, Ph.D.
She also added that some women report having increased vaginal muscle control after carrying a baby, which can cause orgasms to feel more intense. (Source)
What about you?
I would really love to hear more from you! Share your experience with other moms. When did you have your first postpartum sex? Was it painful? Did you have any second thoughts about having sex after baby? Was it awkward? When did your sex life return to what it was pre-pregnancy?
Also, if you have just about any question, you can shoot it in comments below! I will do my best to answer it.
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