There's a story I used to tell my girlfriends who were pregnant with their first child. As young moms we sometimes try to be all things to all people: the perfect mother, the doting wife, the welcoming hostess, the passionate lover. It's a lesson I wish had learned without living it. If only someone had taught me the one thing you should tell your partner before having sex after baby.
There isn't a magic date on the calendar when a new mom will be ready to have sex again.
A couple of weeks after giving birth, I called my OB-GYN in tears. I'd had an episiotomy, and it had suddenly started to itch unbearably. No number of American Pregnancy Association's recommended cold packs, sitz baths, or witch hazel pads offered enough relief. It didn't help that I'd been wearing king-sized maxi pads since the moment my child entered this earth. The doctor assured me that itching was a part of the healing process, but that I should come in so he could make sure everything looked OK.
As I headed out to my appointment, my husband, who was holding our newborn son, called out "don't forget to find out when we can 'do it' again."
It had been less than a month since we'd had sex. In that month I'd given birth to a nine pound child with the unexpected help of forceps and a pair of surgical scissors. My hospital room and home had been constantly inundated with visitors who wanted to help me (hold the baby while I folded laundry). My boobs were persistently leaking, yet neither my baby nor the breast pump could seem to extract more than an ounce of milk at any other time. I had slept no more than 20 hours per week, had a difficult time pooping, and now my crotch was on fire.
Sure, I'll ask the doctor when we can "do it" again.
Dr. M and his nurse assured me that everything looked fine, and that he did not, in fact, cut through my butt as I had secretly suspected. The pain I was feeling in my backside was a tiny hemorrhoid that was bleeding and he could cauterize it quickly using something resembling a 4th of July sparkler. Uh, OK.
My OB-GYN was old school, and always invited me for a quick chat in his office after my appointment. This is where he would write out any prescriptions, and ask if I had any other questions. I did have one question. As minimal as my desire was to even think about sex, I felt I owed it to my husband to ask the doctor when he thought I could have sex again.
"Doc, my husband wanted me to ask when..." Dr. M cut me off, "I recommend that you wait a minimum of six weeks, but I want you to tell your husband that there is no magic date on the calendar when you must have sex. After six weeks your body should be healed enough, but if you're not ready, he will need to give you a little extra time. Doctor's orders."
That's all I needed to hear. Suddenly the pressure of having to be ready by a particular date fell off my shoulders. I told my husband what Dr. M had said, and he was totally cool. "OK, babe, I was just wondering. Whenever you're ready." And, guess what? That no-pressure attitude totally turned me on.