09 Feb 5 Must Haves for Sex After Baby
Tis’ the season of love, and if we as doulas know anything about Valentine’s Day in the Upper Peninsula, it is a day that many people do more than eat a little dark chocolate and drink a little wine.
Even at journal club a couple of weeks back, I spoke to an education director of one of the local birthing floors about how crazy the end of the fall/early winter was for us, and she shook her head in agreement. Truly there’s no winter like a UP winter to cozy up, and if you so desire, try to make a baby.
But what happens when you have grown a baby, had your baby, and now you want to be intimate again?
Your mind may be racing through these thoughts:
How do I have sex after I gave birth?
What does my vagina even look like?
Will it hurt?
I am so not turned on by the thought of sex…
What if I’m not ready?
I had stitches, how is this going to happen?
Will my boobs spray my partner?
Well, here we go. Here are some answers to those questions!
1. Get the go-ahead from your doctor.
While some couples have confessed to not waiting until six weeks from the time of their birth, and a ton more have confessed to starting the process and then stopping because of the abrupt realization that it shouldn’t be happening yet, what is recommended is to wait (at least) until that initial after appointment with your doctor clears you to have sexual intercourse again (we are talking inserting anything into your vagina). Whether you had a vaginal birth or cesarean birth, your body is healing. Your emotions, your incision, your uterus where your placenta was implanted, your perineum, your vagina, your rectum. There are a lot of parts at play to make sure they are all healed up, or on their way to healing. Some may be thinking but what about hands, oral, etc. Again nothing in the vagina, but other things are up to you and your comfort level. If you have clarification questions, definitely talk to your doctor. Your doctor will also talk to you about options for birth control at your appointment if you are trying to avoid pregnancy.
2.Emotional connection with your partner matters.
Being purposeful about emotionally connecting with your partner after you have a baby is crucial, like so much so that taking time before baby comes to pen (not pencil) in time together on the schedule should be required. Giving the space to each other to be vulnerable and express how you are REALLY feeling is where it’s at. And validation and empathy, more and more I see how these both literally solve so many relationship problems (especially when you are tired). As the conversation starts flowing you may realize that there’s a need to seek support from an expert. I’ve especially seen it in mamas and partners that have been through birth trauma, loss, miscarriage, baby blues/postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety. The good news is, here in Marquette we have a couple local therapists who are amazing when it comes to all things pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Please reach out and we will gladly connect you with them. As a mom of three I realize how difficult connecting to your partner after birth can be (whether you are feeling like yourself or having a difficult time), this is a huge reason why in the last few years we have started to offer postpartum doula services. We know that research has shown that having a baby can decrease a couple’s satisfaction in their relationship, and we just aren’t ok with that.
We want to see families connected, whole, and that doesn’t come without support. If you aren’t feeling emotionally connected to your partner, we’d love to help give you the time and space to do just that.
Also know that I’m just like you, always working towards progress in my relationship, never perfection. We all can agree that connection (emotionally and sexually) are cornerstones in relationships.
Keep making effort to stay connected. And also if you get a chance, read “And Baby Makes Three.”
3. Remove the pressure to have sex.
Feeling pressure from someone else, or ourselves, isn’t helpful when trying to mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for sex. Going into sex after giving birth, it is especially important to go in understanding that anything can happen.
You could get in there and feel like a rock star, completely on your game. Like you are a complete sex goddess…I mean that would be AWESOME.
But if I can be real for a moment, many mothers I’ve talked to go in feeling a little awkward. Like remember trying to have sex in the first trimester or third trimester? You may have went from grooving to sea-sickness and running to the bathroom to puke. Then at the end you may have come to a place where you sigh and think well it’s going to be (blank) position again because that’s all I can get into at this point and then needing to stop to pee!
You could start having sex then realize it’s painful, or emotionally you aren’t ready, that’s completely fine too. Please be willing to listen to yourself, and communicate with your partner. Your feelings matter, and you and your partner respecting each other’s bodies and emotions is a huge part of what will make up a beautiful relationship (see #2 above).
4. Good lubrication can help, a lot.
For mamas in the postpartum period being aware that sometimes hormones can cause some to experience more dryness is something to take note of. Ultimately though, you know your body. If things get going and you feel like you are all good to go for it, by all means, listen to your body.
If your body isn’t quite there, you may consider adding in some foreplay. Taking time to get into the mood, feeling cherished, feeling like your body is desired, feeling connected, can all help. You know the things that turn you on, and communicating them to your partner is important. Sometimes couples can feel pressure to rush and get straight to sex, since there’s been a pause button for weeks and there’s a ticking time bomb that will want to likely eat soon, but if you are able, committing to some foreplay first can help you not only mentally and emotionally get back into a sexual headspace, but hopefully physically too.
Ultimately, if you would feel more comfortable with using lubricant, we highly recommend checking out your local health food store or co-op. Here in Marquette, that would be the Marquette Food Co-op.
Some women highly suggest coconut oil. The best tip we can give when it comes to lubricants is the closer to nature the better.
5. A sense of humor is a must.
Postpartum couples are attempting sex possibly more exhausted than they have ever been, and being aware that it can take a little extra effort is good to know (awkward turtle, anyone?). If a woman is breastfeeding her boobs may be like rocks and when she orgasms, her breasts may spray (hormonal- the release of oxytocin). It can take women and partners off guard, so it’s good to know going in.
Your baby will interrupt you at some point, he or she may start fussing, have a blowout, and you may need to stop.
Yes, it can be annoying and though I’d like to tell you interruptions will end, the truth is someday you will likely be answering questions through a locked door to said child who is trying to tear down the door while you are in the middle of sex.
You are welcome.
The main thing is: learn to laugh, do what you gotta go, and when you can jump back in the sack.
Written By: Melinda Britton