Just because you have sex, doesn't mean it's easy to talk about sex. Having any sort of the sex talk can often feel scary and awkward, but it's especially uncomfortable to talk about postpartum sex. You may feel extremely vulnerable and concerned about hurting your partner's feelings. But communication is key to any successful relationship, which is why learning how to talk to your partner about postpartum sex is of the utmost important.
As awkward as the conversation make be, not talking about sex — postpartum or not — can lead to bigger issues down the line. "When you avoid those vital conversations, you might avoid some awkwardness, but you're also settling for suboptimal sex," sex and relationship educator, Kate McCombs, told Healthline. Basically, it's time to get real with yourself and your partner if you want to have a satisfying sex life.
Talking with your partner about sex after child birth also creates understanding. If you don't speak up, your partner may not know that things feel really different "down there", or they might not know how postpartum haywire hormones are impacting your libido, or they could have no clue that you're struggling with body image issues - effectively killing your sex drive.
If you want to be on the same page you'll have to speak up, but how do you do it? Here are seven tips to help you start the postpartum sex conversation.
1. Check In With How You're Feeling Emotionally And Physically
Before you even broach the subject with your partner, take some time to listen to your inner dialogue and be truthful with yourself. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you physically feel healed from child birth?
- Are you feeling pain down there?
- Do you have pain because of breastfeeding?
- Are you exhausted from the demands of taking care of a baby?
- Are you traumatized by your birth experience?
- Are you suffering from anxiety or depression in the postpartum phase?
The answers to these questions will not only shed light on any possible personal struggles (for which you may need professional help), but they can also be a barometer for whether or not you're even ready to attempt sex yet.
2. Write Down What's Great About Your Sex Life Right Now
"The first step to improving your postpartum sexual communication is to journal about your own sex life satisfaction," Dana B. Myers, founder of Booty Parlor, author of The Mojo Makeover: 4 Weeks to a Sexier You, and mother of 2, tells Romper.
She suggests answering some questions like, "what feels good in your sex life right now," and "are you satisfied with the frequency of your sexual activity together." She also recommends you make a copy of these questions for your partner so when it comes time for a discussion you're both ready with some notes.
3. Write Down What Could Make Things Better
"Don’t be shy," Myers says. "Now is the time to honor your truth." To be completely truthful you'll have to do some honest instrospection. Myers suggests asking yourself what could be better about your sex life using these questions as a guide:
- What sexual challenges stand in the way of having better sex?
- Are your sex drives out of sync?
- Does the expectation your partner places on you turn you off?
- Do you want more frequent oral sex or fantasy play?
- Are you unfulfilled by defaulting the same positions every time you make love?
- Would you like to bring in sex toys to enhance your pleasure?"
- Do you no longer enjoy the feeling of your breasts being kissed, now that you’ve breastfed?
- Does the position you used to love before you gave birth now cause you discomfort?"
4. Set Up A Time To Talk Outside Of The Bedroom
"Choose the right time and place to have the conversation — that right time and place is not when you’re naked in the bedroom," Myers says. "Nor is it before, during, or immediately after sex."
Both partners are way too vulnerable in the above sexual situations. Myers suggests having a discussion when you're both relaxed and free from distractions. For those couples who enjoy libations, I recommend a cocktail for this.
5. Take Turns Sharing And Asking Questions
"Remember, this isn’t a board meeting or a contract negotiation, so approach the conversation with love and tangible tenderness," Myers says. She suggests that both partners take turns sharing their answers to the questions above. As with all communication, she reminds couples not to interrupt each other, listen, be patient, and be respectful. It's also very important to not judge your partners deepest sexual desires and make them feel ridiculous. Above all, ask more questions if you're still unclear.
6. Use Team Language, Not Personal Criticisms Or Attacks
"By using the phrase 'we do' instead of 'you do,' you avoid placing blame and bruising his ego, while showing him that you want to be on the same team," Myers says. She believes using the "we" approach effectively steers your partner towards what you want, without hurting their feelings.
7. Remember This Is Temporary
"In either partners case the important thing to remember is that this is just a temporary stage in their lives," Steve McGough, an associate professor of clinical sexology, tells Romper. "Both parents are on a roller coaster right now and it's easy to make generalizations that the other may feel hurt or unappreciated by."
Just because penetrative sex or other sexual activity is different than pre-baby, that doesn't mean it's bad, nor will it be forever. The goal for couples should be to make sex mutually pleasurable for whatever stage in life you're at. This takes open and honest communication, and the ability to expand your mind to new sexual and intimate possibilities. And if you can't do it alone, a sex therapist is just a phone call away.