Sex after baby – November 28, 2012

After my first baby (18-hour labour plus episiotomy without anesthetic) I thought I would never let anyone near me again—not even myself. The thought of peeing or having a bowel movement was inconceivable. And yet, we continue to pee, shit and have sex. How do we get back to that beautiful place?

Every woman, every delivery and every baby is different, as is a woman’s relationship status at delivery. What follows are some general remarks about sex after baby.

No matter how “easy” or difficult the delivery, every woman has to heal after childbirth. With a Caesarean section, clearly the healing period is longer: it is major surgery. Immediately, the baby’s needs are paramount. Anyone who has heard a newborn cry can attest to that. If there is a partner on the scene, hopefully they get it. You are sore. You are tired. If you are breastfeeding, your vagina (when it heals) tends to be dry. Your libido has been tamped down by all of the above.

You may not feel particularly gorgeous. Some women spend their pregnancies feeling undesirable, others highly sexual. If you are breastfeeding, you may feel closer to other mammals than any human except your baby. You probably feel “touched out” and want to get some of your body integrity back.

That said, if you have a partner and you want them to stay in your life while you go through this incredible adjustment, it means sharing tenderness. Everybody gets some.

Hopefully, you were still engaged in some way with your partner right up to the birth, whether with loving words, sweet kisses, warm embraces or other sexual activity. Some pregnant women prefer fingers or oral sex to other vaginal activity, especially close to the birth. For others, all physical contact may have come to a full stop long before.

For these women, the road back to feeling sexual may take longer. It starts with reminding yourself why you wanted to have a baby with this person in the first place (if, indeed this was a wanted pregnancy). You will need to re-establish some physical contact with your partner as a basis for future sexual intimacy.

When you first start feeling like some kind of lovemaking might be a real possibility, you have to progress very slowly. If you want to give your partner some pleasure, now is a good time to revisit your sexual repertoire. Use your hand, your breasts, your mouth—or whatever else feels good—to make your partner feel good. If the day comes when you want your genitals touched, touch yourself first. See how it feels. Take it slowly. Can you put in a finger without cringing? Is the lube handy?

If you want to let your partner touch you, show them the way you did at the beginning of the relationship and say clearly, “this feels good, this not so much—oooh, that feels wonderful.” And just like having anal sex for the first time, you need to start small if anything is going to enter your vagina.

Some people are okay having sex with the baby in the room (some even have sex with the baby in the bed); but others find it easier to concentrate on their pleasure and their partner without having to worry about the baby waking up. So even though the baby may not be on a fixed schedule, try to find the most likely time to be alone. You may need to make a date and have someone take care of the baby while you and your partner rediscover each other.

If you are fully breastfeeding, you may not ovulate for several months. If you are not breastfeeding, you can get pregnant in six to seven weeks. That means finding a way to avoid a second pregnancy too soon after the first if you have a male partner.

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