Sex after baby can be intimidating. The pressure that surrounds the idea of being intimate for some women causes a lot of anxiety. When is it OK to have sex again? Will it hurt? There are many new questions, emotions, and physical aspects to take into consideration with sex after baby. As intimacy begins to creep back into your mind, there are some things sex therapists want you to know about sex after baby.
It's not uncommon to face challenges building your sex life back up after having your first baby. A new mom's hormones, emotions, and even body will change, and it takes some getting used to. Lack of sleep can set in, and the last thing you may want is to continue being touched and overstimulated, especially if you're breastfeeding. Taking the steps to keep in touch, both on a physical and communicative level, with your partner is key to keeping affection and intimacy alive, and it definitely doesn't have to be all about sex. OB-GYN Laura Fijolek McKain told Baby Center that she recommends waiting six weeks to have sex after a baby and only after having your postpartum exam. Throughout those six weeks and when you start to consider having sex again, take into consideration what therapists want you to remember.
1. Partners, Be Patient
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) Holly Hemphill of Hemphill Relationship Therapy often counsels couples in areas of sexuality and intimacy. In an interview with Romper, Hemphill says that her "first advice is always for men to be really aware that oftentimes for them sex looks exactly the same, and for women, sex, intimacy, affection looks a lot different." Especially immediately after the birth of a baby. Things are changing, not only in the household, but for new moms and their bodies as well. It's important for partners to have patience and understanding when it comes to the time new mothers need to heal, adapt, and find new balance. Consider shifting focus to giving and receiving affection in areas outside the bedroom.
2. Hormones Cause Body Changes
After a baby, there's a whole lot of chaos going on with a new mom's hormones. "Oftentimes, [women] may have issues with their vagina being dryer than before having a baby," Hemphill says, "Oftentimes, breasts change and what might've been arousing before – having your breasts touched – sometimes changes after you've had baby." It's completely normal and a good idea to be open with your doctor about it. Hemphill also says it's important to be aware of postpartum depression symptoms and that any medication you're on can also affect sexuality.
3. Be Intentional About Time Together
Continue to be loving, even if it's not sexual. "Be intentional about also continuing to be affectionate and intimate, even sometimes when you are tired and exhausted," Hemphill says. Although intimacy doesn't always have to mean sex, still focus on ways you can remain physically close with each other. It's important to take the extra effort and conscious attempts to show you care.
4. Awkwardness Happens
"The longer that we do go without doing anything, the harder it is to kind of get that back into our relationship," Hemphill says. This is why she puts such an emphasis on being intentional and showing physical affection, even if it's not sexual. Like with many things, the longer you wait the more surreal it may feel to have sex again for the first time, and that's OK.
Sex after a baby is different for every woman. There's not a right or wrong way, it may take some time, and intimacy is bound to have a different meaning or even feeling at first. If you have any questions or concerns, it's always best to reach out to a local therapist who specializes in relationships and sex or contact your doctor for advice.