Getting busy with your partner might be the furthest thing from your mind after having a baby. You're already plenty busy taking care of a tiny, fragile human being. Some changes have no doubt occurred within you both physically (hello, leaky everything) and mentally (thank you, brain crushing exhaustion). Maybe you're the complete opposite and can hardly wait to jump in the sack. No matter where you fall on the sexual spectrum, there are conversations all couples should have before attempting postpartum sex.
Postpartum hormones are strange, wild, and sometimes totally unpredictable. Even the most sexual women find themselves in the throws of low libido after or, at the very least, apprehensive about sex after childbirth. However you feel about sex, even if it's not wanting to do it, is completely valid and should be respected. The only way to know how either person is feeling about postpartum sex is to have a conversation (or several) about it.
Talking about sex can feel so very unsexy at times, but in many cases it's necessary, especially when a woman is in the postpartum phase as there are many considerations to discuss both physically and mentally. Couples navigating their sex life after having a baby also often wonder how their intimacy and intercourse will change, if at all. There is no way to predict the ways in which a couple's sex life will or will not change after a baby, but there are eight conversations to have to help you ease into and prepare for postpartum sex.
1. The Talk About Being Ready (Or Not)
This is definitely a loaded question, but one worth asking and answering honestly. For one, there's the physical aspect. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should allow your body enough time for tears or lacerations to be repaired or healed. Before you have sex the cervix should be closed and postpartum bleeding should be completely stopped. Most OB-GYNs and midwives give the go ahead for sex at six weeks postpartum.
But your personal timeline of healing is the one that really matters.New moms are no doubt extremely tired from caring for a newborn, drained, possible touched out and may even be struggling with their new role as "mom" pointed out the Good Therapy website. Some mothers are struggling with baby blues and even postpartum depression (PPD). All of these factors should be discussed before giving postpartum sex a whirl.
2. The Talk About Trying New Positions
Yes, the possibility exists that the first time in the saddle will be painful, but if you're open to trying a few tricks you might be pleasantly surprised and optimally pleasured. In fact, there are several positions following a difficult delivery that will not only make sex easier, but feel better too.
3. The Talk About Pain
As mentioned, the first time having postpartum sex might be uncomfortable and possible painful. Your vagina has been stretched, your hormones are haywire and possibly causing extreme vaginal dryness, and you may have had a traumatic birth injury, pointed out What To Expect. All of these things can make for a less than stellar sexual experience.
Changing positions can help, but what if it hurts so bad you're not in the mood anymore? What if you change your mind about sex mid-act? How will you handle? Determining ahead of time to listen to your body and ensuring your partner will respect your thresholds, boundaries, and body is of utmost importance as you ease into postpartum sex.
4. The Talk About Leakage
There might be a few squirty surprises along the way to postpartum sex. According to She Knows, starting sex soon after delivery may cause some unexpected bodily functions like lactation and urinary leakage. It's not a huge deal, but if you're worried about your sheets you might want to have towels handy or head to the shower for the sex session.
5.The Talk About Birth Control
How do you think back-to-back babies happen or Irish twins? You can get pregnant before your first period, according to Baby Center. If you're not a person that wants this to happen, you'll have to take certain measures before having postpartum sex like using condoms or taking a birth control pill. There is also some research noted by the Mayo Clinic that suggests not spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart can carry risks like: low birth weight, small size for gestational age, and preterm birth.
Not all birth control works the same and all bodies are different, so it's best to discuss the best birth control options for you with your provider before jumping into the sack.
6. The Talk About Other Forms Of Intimacy
There are plenty of ways to keep the intimacy and connection strong in your relationship without having sex. According to an article in Psychology Today, the importance of sex in a healthy relationship only depends on how important it is to that person. This means, there is no normal mode of having sex (intercourse, oral, anal, rubbing) and there is no normal frequency, it's all variable and dependent on the individual couples.
If intercourse is off the table for awhile due to low sex drive or pain in the postpartum phase, there are ways to stay connected with your partner that don't involve sex. Preparing for the possibility of exploring other forms of intimacy might need to be addressed before engaging in postpartum intercourse to help offset any feelings of rejection or frustration.
7. The Talk About Low Sex Drive
Not heating up under the hood as much after having a baby? According to Baby Center it's completely normal to have low sex drive following the birth of a baby because new moms are healing from pregnancy and childbirth, their hormones are out of whack, and they are so tired from caring for a newborn. Of course, not every single woman will experience low sex drive, but many will. It might be worth while to discuss with your partner ahead of time that low libido is absolutely a possible reality. Figuring out how to navigate this time of mismatched libidos will give you the tools to stay connected as a couple in other ways until this phase passes.
8. The Talk About Needing Help
If postpartum sex issues are really becoming a problem in the relationship, or you simply need a little help talking about sex, a sex therapist might be a good idea. As a 2013 article in the The New York Times pointed out that talking about and setting sexual expectations after having a baby is often still considered taboo and rarely discussed. The focus always tends to be on the physical health of the mother and not the other aspects of her healing, which includes her sexual health. Couples struggling with these sex conversations alone might feel more comfortable discussing them with an expert.
Not everyone's body will have the same sexual response after the birth of a baby. Not every couple will navigate their new sexual landscape in the same way either. The focus is often on women and mothers who experience different sexual feelings after having a baby, but sometimes men are severely impacted as well. Keeping realistic sexual expectations after childbirth is important in a relationship, and so is keeping and open mind and open lines of communications about it.