Relationships after a baby
Many women wonder if sex will change post-partum and if they will enjoy it as much. Lest we forget pregnancy and childbirth is a miraculous process but it can also be physically demanding, (it ain’t called labour for nothing!) So when I asked fellow mums their thoughts on post-partum sex I wasn’t surprised to find their concerns focused not on when they would jump back in the saddle but if they ever would…! Almost all asked reported a loss of libido in the early weeks and complained of never finding a second in the day for themselves, never mind their partner. The sheer exhaustion and pure elation of dealing with a newborn meant the thought of being laid flat out on one’s back was more likely to be associated with sleep than sex. Sex was not a priority.
Let’s face it – resurfacing the Red Hot Sexy Mama of 12 months ago may not be uppermost in a woman’s thoughts when regarding their post-partum reflection. You may be one of the lucky ones who ping back into shape pronto - but for mere mortals it takes many months. If that sounds a long time it really shouldn’t considering it took nine months to grow that big.
Much comes down to the type of delivery experienced. Sex may be off the menu due to the need to physically recover rather than a lack of desire or want, especially if recovering from episiotomies, caesarians or internal bruising. Breastfeeding can also impinge on playtime pursuits - sensitive breasts might be short-term no-go zones. Remember it can take a while to get the hang of breastfeeding. If milk is leaking during sexual activity, you can pump your breasts or feed the baby right before any sexual activity. So, there will be less milk in the breasts to leak out. Placing nursing pads inside of a sexy nursing bra can be another way of controlling the milk leakage.
Hormone changes can cause vaginal dryness and the use of lubricant is generally recommended. For those who engage in anal sex beware of haemorrhoids, common after giving birth.
So if you are one of those whose libido seems to have gone A.W.O.L. - worry not it is only temporary.
Rina, mum of three recalls:
Sex after first pregnancy - hurt! Really sore, almost was like my vagina forgot what it was there for! Doc said it was hormones and that eventually it would go away (it did, but took ages).
Alternately women are concerned that by not engaging in sex they may be putting undue strain on their relationships. There is nothing worse then feeling pressured to have sex when you are not yet ready or having to ‘get it over with’. Men as we know aren’t psychic so communication is vital. You may continue a sharing love and affection with your partner in other ways such as spending time together, kissing hugging, holding hands and walking. Open and intimate communication is very important. You need to tell your partner what is going on with your body. Help him understand you’re not rejecting him personally.
Jilly mother of two and clinical psychologist writes:
My libido took quite a while to reappear. I didn't put any pressure on myself to do anything I didn't feel like doing.
To be expected to be sexy as well as all the overwhelming demands of early motherhood can seem like a love chore. On the other hand, Fiona mum of three writes, ‘Grabbing the time to be something other than a milk and baby producing machine was a positive thing for me.’ Time is always a factor and dependent on the support available Toni advises, ‘take up all babysitting offers and, don’t worry if the baby is present they heard worse in the belly.’
Then again many find having a baby very sexy and incredibly empowering. Julietta wrote, ‘finally I felt what it was to be woman. I loved sex during pregnancy and after! First time we took it easy and my partner was very gentle.’ There is nothing more sensuous or attractive as a woman confident and at ease with her own body.
So when do most women resume sexual relations with their partner?
It has been reported that by six weeks 41% of first-time mothers who had vaginal deliveries had penetrative sex, rising to 78% by 12 weeks. However if the birth was difficult, either physically or emotionally, women tended to delay resuming sexual activity for a longer period.
The time to resume sexual activity depends on your physical and emotional comfort. Thus, sexual activity may be resumed at any time after delivery when the vagina, cervix and uterus have healed and the vaginal bleeding has decreased or stopped. If you are unsure about the best time to start sexual activity after delivery, you can ask your midwife or doctor.