So. You just did the equivalent of doing the splits over a box of dynamite and your lady parts are thrashed and you are sore and exhausted. Or, in the case of our C-section mamas, you have survived labour and literally had your insides on the outside to birth your baby, leaving you too sore and exhausted and unable to lift more than 5 lbs while you recover.
No matter how you had your sweet babe. You are an amazing badass.
Throw the trauma of birth on top of sleepless nights with a newborn paired with the anxiety of having the responsibility of keeping a tiny human alive, it's likely you are a barely functioning zombie or at least not feeling overly amorous and are fine with the doc’s orders to refrain from intercourse for 6 weeks.
Fast Forward 6 or so weeks
Your doc finally gives you the go ahead to get back to normal (whatever that is) at your 6 week check up and you start panicking.
(side story - my aunt told my uncle that it was 6 months instead of 6 weeks)
You're always tired. Always covered in some substance secreted by your baby, and likely still in that weird in-between place of maternity clothes and your old clothes. Not feeling quite like your old self.
Before your spouse starts giving you bedroom eyes, you need to seriously consider your needs and your current feelings.
Having recently had a watermelon-sized being shoot out your nether region, can cause tearing. If you're still healing from that then the idea of sex can cause severe anxiety.
Questions you need to ask yourself:
Are YOU the one who wants this? Are you ready to jump back into the proverbial saddle with your partner?
Don't ever feel pressured to do something you’re not emotionally or physically ready for. That won't be fun for anyone.
Have that conversation with your partner. Be open and honest and just explain your feelings. Being intimate with one another can be more than just sexual.
These are 10 ways you can increase intimacy. This might be a good stepping stone to work up to actual intercourse.
Changes in your body since birth
Birth and exhaustion can lead to physical changes in how your body responds as well.
What might have come naturally before, may no longer. Even if you're feeling frisky, your body may take longer to respond and natural lubrication may not come as, well, naturally.
Hormones play a big role in postdelivery recovery and a return to normal sexual activity.
Common issues women face after birth
-Vaginal dryness (this can occur even in C-section mamas- thanks hormones)
-Loss of or low libido
All these things, while uncomfortable, are completely normal and more importantly, treatable.
“In the days immediately following childbirth, estrogen drops to pre-pregnancy levels. If breastfeeding, estrogen levels might sink below pre-pregnancy levels. Estrogen helps supply natural vaginal lubrication, so low levels of the hormone increase the likelihood of vaginal dryness.” https://www.healthline.com
While common for those that had a vaginal birth, this can be the case for c-section mamas as well. These same hormonal issues can lead to dry and painful sex.
In this case a water soluble lubricant may be helpful. You’ll want to make sure to have some on hand should the time ever arise where you both find yourselves in the mood for sex.
Taking the Plunge
You’ve talked it over, you’ve carved out a couple minutes for yourselves and things are going to happen!
You’re probably still a bit anxious and trying to relax will really help.
Think about getting a pap. Those forceps aren't a fun experience but when you're tensed up and anxious those things are downright painful. Same idea here.
If you're worried about any discomfort take it super slow. It’s really helpful for you to take the reins so you can literally ease yourself into it and you’ll have more control over rhythm and speed.
If things get uncomfortable stop. Slow down. Try again if you have to. Theres no perfect first time experience.
You might have to try different positions until you find something that works for you both.
Expect it to take time. Expect to get interrupted by a crying baby at least once. Laugh with each other.
With sex, always comes the potential for conceiving another baby.
If you’re not quite ready for that, then make sure to have condoms handy for when you and your partner are ready or talk to your doctor about a low hormone birth control. Even if you’re breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant.
Sex after children is like reverting back to your teenage years. You have to sneak around and be extra quiet and avoid getting pregnant.
Any discomfort can last for up to 3 months and typically decreases along the way. You know your body better than anyone. If anything feels wrong for any reason, talk to your doctor. If the pain is severe and prolonged, talk to your doctor.
There are numerous factors that contribute to painful sex and we can talk about those on the next post in this series.