Whether a break from sexual intimacy makes you feel frustrated or relieved, believe it or not, there will again come a day after having your baby when you resume interest in relations with your spouse or partner! That six-week recovery period is a breeze for some, and a challenge for others. Wherever you may fall on the scale, we’re here to drop some knowledge about sex after having a baby…
- Six Weeks is Just a Guideline
The six-week abstinence from sex after giving birth isn’t necessarily meant to be a rule. The reasoning behind it is that at six weeks postpartum, you have a checkup with your OB-GYN or midwife. They perform a pelvic exam, ensuring that your parts have healed up nicely and that you don’t have any infections or injuries remaining. If you’ve had a Cesarean, this is still important. They will also discuss birth control with you, as most people are not too eager to conceive again while still recovering from the last birth!
However, you should know that you don’t have to put a check mark on the calendar for that magical day that you will have sex. Some people are fully healed up, energetic, finished bleeding, and raring to go before that time. Others, especially those healing from Cesarean surgery, episiotomy, or other factors in a difficult labor and delivery, may in fact need much more time as well as some work with postpartum physical and mental therapists in order to be ready to have sex again. We are all unique, and have different experiences to go by. We need to listen to our bodies, communicate with our special someone, and be open to receiving help to find our groove again.
- Breastmilk Can Make for a Sticky Situation
Many parents are surprised, or even shocked, to find out the new role that breasts have during lovemaking. It’s pretty common to have a strong let-down reflex in response to the hormone levels raised during kissing, cuddling, and orgasm. Tingling, leaking, and even spraying breastmilk are possible during sex! If you are prone to leaking, or think you might be, you might want to consider having an extra towel on hand.
- Your Postpartum Vagina May Need Extra Care
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. There is no such thing as getting “stretched out” by childbirth! The vagina/birth canal is an accordion-like structure, and hormones cause it to relax and expand at the time of delivery (as well as during sexual arousal). When its job during birth is completed, the vagina no longer needs to be stretched, and can go back to the way it was before.
Many women even report feeling “tighter” than before, which can possibly be partly due to the six-weeks-plus abstinence from penetration. Your spouse or partner should be very slow and gentle, paying close attention to your cues, while performing any sort of penetration, to ensure that you are able to relax and enjoy yourself.
Breastfeeding hormones can also cause vaginal dryness, which is why many postpartum couples like to stock up on a gentle intimate lubricant before resuming sexual activity – and use plenty of it when needed!
- The Bed Isn’t the Only Place for Intimacy
Many couples have cribs in their rooms, and toddlers and pets in their bed. They worry about waking up the baby just when they get into the mood, or worse – scarring their kids for life! However, there’s no rule that dictates getting frisky in the bedroom. Let your sleeping family members lie, and consider enjoying intimacy with each other somewhere else, whether that’s the bath or shower, the kitchen, or even the couch! Who knows, the change of location could even add a bit more excitement and anticipation.
- Love Your Body – It Loves You Back
Negative body image after childbirth is one of the biggest mood killers for moms. It tempts us to feel unsexy, and to turn out the lights early. It’s true that your body is going through a major change – but think about what it’s done for you! You just grew a whole person with your body, and you might even be feeding and growing that person now with your body. Your body doesn’t have to look like it did when you were 18. You are wiser, stronger, and more experienced, and your body reflects that. Diet culture, Hollywood, airbrushed magazines, and Instagram models bombard us. For us to ignore those fake, harmful standards, and embrace ourselves as mature mothers is truly revolutionary. We are that strong as women. We can take back our self esteem and our sexuality, and allow sex and motherhood to coexist in our one body.
So this Valentine’s Day, let go of your worries and insecurities. Communicate well with your significant other and let those romantic sparks fly!