What Is Intimacy Like After Childbirth

This week Lady Friday tackles one of the least sexy periods in a woman’s life – post-partum. The good news? The bedroom is still on the agenda – and RESCU has a guide to making it something much more than a place to collapse after breastfeeding at 3am…

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Recognise that sex is important.

Jacqueline Hellyer, a Sydney sex therapist, is a big advocate for women reconnecting with their partner sexually after childbirth – provided they’ve made the right preparations. Let’s follow her advice, shall we?

For a lot of newly-babied couples, sex can seem like the last priority – and since the mother possibly isn’t feeling at her most sexually alluring given pregnancy weight gain, leaking nipples and sleep deprivation, that’s pretty fair.

Still, sex is an important part of your relationship – and just because it’s now a three-person situation rather than two doesn’t mean that those needs can be discarded. Besides, your supposed ‘fatness’ is just a matter of perspective: the trick is confidence, and knowing that your partner finds you gorgeous no matter how many stretch marks you’re earned.

Don’t believe the myths about post-birth sex being awful.The vagina is designed to stretch – and then to go back into shape. It is not designed to turn into a permanent train tunnel after delivering a child. The recovery process is slow, though, so don’t expect instant tightness immediately.

Added bonuses? Childbirth, if you’ve gone for normal delivery as opposed to a Caesarian, means an increased flow of blood to your sexual organs, and an increase in hormones, which make the sexual experience pleasurable. That, and the increased intimacy of post-childbirth sex, really adds up. Orgasms? Yes please.

If you don’t want it, there are reasons why.

Particularly in women who breastfeed, a decrease in libido is pretty common. This is perfectly normal, natural, and nothing to panic about.

You might also, considering that you now have a small squealing thing which demands your attention 24 hours a day, simply be too tired. This is more than acceptable.

Give your body time to recover.

This is important particularly if you’ve had a Caesarian birth. You had a large hole cut in your body. Sex is not going to be a particularly pleasant event no matter how you look at it.  Take medical advice, please, and stick to it regardless of how horny you are.

Otherwise?  It’s important to have a post-partum check-up and get a professional OK, but largely people are scared about post-partum sex for no reason beyond vague fears. The traditional line is ‘no sex for six weeks’ – by which they mean ‘no penetration’ – but this is often only in the case of tears or damage resulting from the birth. If you don’t have any, feel free to ask permission before the six-week mark.

Consider other options.

If you’ve had a particularly painful or upsetting birth, you may simply not feel comfortable with plain old vanilla sex. Fortunately for you, sex is very versatile! Hurrah!

Oral, anal, manual (fingering) and positions which allow you to be in charge of what goes where are very popular options. Also, it’s important to note that lubricant is going to probably become a very big part of your bedroom arsenal, so stock up.

Don’t expect immediate perfection.

An Australian study noted that half of post-partum women in sexual relationships had problems with sex for up to six months after they first attempted it.  HALF.

So it’s not you. It’s not even the minority. It’s half of your compatriots. If you need help, go visit a sexual advice counsellor or your GP, but don’t feel as if you’re abnormal in any way.

Use contraception.

Marie Stopes came out with a study saying that 35% of women post-childbirth simply don’t think about contraceptive options after childbirth.

Going to have sex? The procedure hasn’t changed just because your womb recently had an occupant.

It’s probably a good idea to discuss different contraception options with a GP or gynaecologist, though, because your body’s changed and your plans for future children might have, too.

Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday…

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