Sex After Baby
Having a baby can put a real (if temporary) strain on your sex life. A combination of fatigue, physical discomfort, and a change in your relationship dynamic can mean that you may have a little trouble connecting with your partner on an intimate level for a while. Parenting your baby together and as a cohesive team is beneficial for a relationship.
Baby cares should be shared, and a flexible attitude adopted as to just how you divide these tasks. There are more ways than one to achieve what you set out to do, none of which are particularly right or wrong. Like most parenting, there is no manual to this – you just need to find what works for you.
Keeping the lines of communication open is the single most valuable thing you can do to tend to your relationship now. Allocating time for the two of you to spend together is essential. Everything else will flow from there when the time is right for you. In the days following the birth of your baby, you may feel like you never want to have sex again.
You may be sleep-deprived, sore and distracted – but at some stage that spark will come back, and it will pay to consider your options for birth control before you do. You start using your contraceptive of choice within four weeks of baby’s birth if you don’t want to become pregnant again. Birth control is usually discussed in the first month post-partum (after birth) so that it is working when you are ready. You do need to discuss this with your doctor because your pre-pregnancy contraception may not be the most suitable one for you now.
Sometimes barrier methods are handy when you first get back into the swing of things.
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Yes, it’s scary.
You may also be feeling a little scared or vulnerable. After all, down below has had a few things going on. It’s ok to wait and take it slowly. From a physical point of view, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have sex if your vaginal discharge has stopped and any stitches or damage to your perineum have healed. This healing usually takes about 4-6 weeks. Before this time, there’s a risk of infection if you haven’t healed up properly yet. Sexual function may take up to 12 months to return to normal (29).
There’s no right or wrong – it’s up to you when you feel ready, comfortable and connected. You may find that the first time you have sex after baby is a little uncomfortable. It’s important to make sure that you have some lubricant (such as KY jelly) close by. This lubricant can help to minimise the possibility of discomfort. If one of you is ready to resume your sexual relationship before the other, make sure you keep communication lines open.
How will it feel?
Your pelvic floor muscles can take several months to get back to normal after the birth of your baby. Hence, sex may feel a little strange and different. Sometimes low estrogen levels found during breastfeeding can cause vaginal dryness and make intercourse uncomfortable. If you’re finding that sex hurts, talk to your GP.
Don’t forget that there are other activities that you can engage in with your partner. There are plenty of options for intimacy if you aren’t ready for penetrative sex. Mutual or solo masturbation is one way to find your way back to your usual sexual activity.
Sex toys can be a safe alternative for those who are concerned about easing back into regular sex. To view Lelo’s high-quality silicone adult range, please visit LELO.com.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife.
Photo by VP Photo Studio used under license from Shutterstock.com