Sex after birth – how soon is too soon?
Pregnancy and childbirth can have a huge impact on the way you feel about your body, before, during and after. Sex in the last trimester can be a struggle for most and then there is the small task of actually giving birth. All that comes with the long process of physical and emotional recovery.
Sex after birth can be an even bigger challenge for many couples. Getting your clothes off in front of your partner, and being intimate again, can surround us with apprehension and fear. It is also different for everyone. While some women jump back in after a matter of days, others can take up to a year or even longer until they feel ready.
The Medical advice?
Generally speaking, medical professionals advise waiting six weeks post delivery before having sex. This is certainly a prerequisite for those who have been through a c-section. However, for me, there seems to be a magic six week timescale applied to everything post labour related. I believe it is something that can only be determined on an individual basis. Every woman’s body, labour and journey are unique and therefore their post-natal experiences will also vary greatly.
The First Time…
Having sex post pregnancy for the first time might feel different for a number of reasons. Hormonal changes might disrupt your natural balance, leaving your vagina feeling dry. You might also experience some pain if you’re still recovering from surgery and will be dependent on the type of labour and delivery you experienced.
If you’re breastfeeding, this might also change the way you feel about your breasts being touched. They can become very sensitive and sometimes sore and there is also the added fear that they might start to leak during intimacy.
Another huge concern for many women is their vagina post childbirth. Many women worry that their vagina will never go back to normal. Remember, it is designed to do this exact task providing that you give it the love and attention it needs to heal. If you feel that your body is not as controlled or reactive as it once was, or even if, on the outside you feel absolutely fine, I would still highly recommend pelvic floor and core exercises to help regain strength and function.
As if the mental and physical challenges of sex post pregnancy weren’t enough, there is one final thing to consider: getting pregnant! You can conceive again in as little as three weeks after the birth of a baby, even if you’re breastfeeding and your periods haven’t started again. A woman can start to ovulate again before her period returns making it easy to miss the signs. Again this will vary from woman to woman.
My top tips when returning to having sex after child birth would be:
- If penetration hurts, say so. If you pretend that everything’s all right when it isn’t, you may start to see sex as a nuisance or unpleasant, rather than a pleasure. You can still give each other pleasure without penetration – for example, by mutual masturbation.
- Take it gently. Perhaps explore with your own fingers first to reassure yourself that sex won’t hurt. You may want to use some personal lubricant. Hormonal changes after childbirth may mean you aren’t as lubricated as usual.
- Make time to relax together. You’re more likely to make love when your minds are on each other rather than other things.
- Get help if you need it. If you’re still experiencing pain, talk to your GP or go and see a women’s health physio or specialist.
- Use contraception – unless popping out another child is part of the master plan of course! But I would highly advise giving your body enough time to heal and recover adequately.
If you would like to talk about any of the issues raised in this blog, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also feel free to contact me if you would like further information on my ‘Core and Restore’ programme. This is an eight week postnatal exercise programme designed just for mums, however far along the post-natal journey you happen to be. It will help to rehab your ab’s whilst improving your pelvic core strength and function. Not only will you be able to get back to the workouts that you loved pre-pregnancy, you will also gain the energy your need to care for yourself and your baby.
Coach Torz x