If you’re pregnant or just had a baby, you’ve probably been relying on your posse to feed you valuable information. You know, your circle of close friends who are also pregnant or already have kids. They make you feel like you live in a judgment-free zone. Episiotomies, pooping on the delivery table, leaking breasts… all fair game. They listen to you and often share their own experiences. Best of all, they convince you that you’re not nearly as weird or inept as you think you are. Or at least they’re kind enough to let you believe that (, wink, wink). Sure, there are plenty of other people you could turn to. But, if you want the cold, hard truth, they’re your go-to gals. So when it comes to postpartum sex, who better to fill you in on what to expect than experienced moms?
How long should you wait to have sex after childbirth?
The truth is that there isn’t a hard and fast rule on how long you should wait. Six weeks seems to be the magic time frame that most OBGYN’s give. You need time to heal, and you certainly don’t want to cause an infection during the first two weeks postpartum. That said, some new moms are excited to rock n’ roll at four or five weeks, while others are still nervous about the idea six months later. Everyone is different, and that’s okay. No guilt or pressure necessary. You need to be comfortable. The reality is whether you’re ready for post-baby sex sooner or later, sex will probably feel different the first few times. We’ll chat more about that in a minute.
What if you’re not quite ready and your partner has a big green star marking “the date” on the calendar?
Making the transition from mom to sexual partner can be difficult for some. That’s understandable, especially since you’ve been on the job 24/7 for weeks without much time off. If this is the case, it’s okay to let your partner know how you feel. Ask your partner to be on baby duty so you can sleep or take a luxuriously long, hot shower. Then, you can spend some time together. It’s also okay to take it slowly. Getting physical with your partner, even without full-blown intercourse, can help you get in the mood. Spending quiet time together cuddling and making out can take you out of mommy mode, back into the adult world, and eventually get you in the mood for more.
Feeling self-conscious about your post-pregnancy bod?
Remember when Kate walked out of the hospital hours after giving birth to Prince George with perfectly curled hair and flawless make-up, smiling for the cameras? That’s not normal! Nor is it normal to fit into your skinny jeans a couple of weeks after giving birth. The reality is that most of us are happy that the stretched-out yoga pants we wore throughout our pregnancies still fit. No, our post-baby bods are not what they used to be. Even if you are one of the lucky ones who lose the baby weight quickly, it takes time for everything to tighten back up.
If the pregnancy line that hasn’t quite faded and your deflated stomach is really bothering you, consider this. Your partner doesn’t care the way you do. As long as sex is on the table, they’re all in. Not only that, your partner finds you much more attractive than you realize. You see stretch marks. Your partner sees a beautiful woman who brought a tiny human being into the world. Try to see yourself through his or her eyes and be kind to yourself.
How does sex feel after giving birth?
So here’s the big money question. The truth is that even women who are ready and raring for sex right after the baby is born report some discomfort. Most say the first time after having a baby feels a little like losing your virginity. It’s logical, especially if tears and stitches have had to heal. There are a couple of tricks, though.
First of all, lubricate. Then lube some more. Estrogen levels drop after childbirth, causing vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding can have the same effect. Lube solves that problem, and keeps the areas that have healed moist. You may also want to do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Some women feel like their vaginal muscles are a little loose after giving birth. You can start any time after the baby is born. Bonus: Kegels improve your bladder control too.
What one thing should every woman know about having sex postpartum?
If you’re not prepared to raise Irish twins, remember to use birth control. Fertility can resume as soon as a month after giving birth. Also, many women don’t realize they can get pregnant while breastfeeding, even if they don’t get a period. Yes, breastfeeding prevents ovulation, but it’s not a foolproof form of contraception. The effects on fertility vary for each woman.
What’s the best way to keep postpartum sex romantic?
Keep perspective. Remember, you’re only a few weeks into this new body and this new role. You will sleep again. Your breasts will stop leaking. Your vagina will heal. If your libido isn’t quite where it used to be, take heart. It comes back. Sex will be spontaneous and fun again.
Meanwhile, take a deep breath and give yourself the gift of time to adjust to all the changes. Be open and honest with your partner and engage him or her in the healing process. Light some candles, play your special song, or find new games to play. Laugh at the mishaps and find creative new ways to pleasure each other. Not only can the experience of having a baby together bring you closer emotionally, but it can also lead you back to the activity that brought your little bundle of joy to you in the first place.