Things were going along just fine in the sex department until you got pregnant, and nine months later, out popped a wailing newborn. Body changes, family changes, and new responsibilities can sometimes make post-baby sex more challenging. But what’s normal?
Check out what’s true and what isn’t about sex after pregnancy.
1. Your sex drive revs back up around 6 weeks after giving birth.
False: While most doctors give women the all-clear for sex 6 weeks after childbirth, not all women are raring to go. And according to many experts, it can take a woman months, even an entire year, to regain her sex drive.
Make time for no-pressure intimacy, like cuddling on the couch together after the baby is asleep, that doesn’t necessarily end in sex.
Many women associate sex with performing just another chore, having to be touched becomes just another sacrifice on her part. So, when he touches her, whether he wants sex or not, her body immediately shuts down.
2. You probably won’t snap back into shape right away, and your faltering body image might make you shy away from sex.
True: We see so many images of celebrities sporting bikinis and baring their toned, taut bodies right after giving birth. “The reality is that most new moms’ bodies don’t look like that – and most new moms don’t have celebrity bank accounts for trainers and designer diets.”
“Treat yourself with kindness and compassion as you heal and adjust to your new life as a parent. The truth is that women are much harder on themselves about their post-childbirth bodies than their partners are. Of the husbands and partners we surveyed, most said that their biggest concern was that their wives didn’t feel more confident about their bodies.”
3.Your husband is counting the minutes until you’re cleared to have sex again.
False: Whether it’s because of a C-section, a bad tear, or other complications, there’s usually a period of time when sex is out of question after the birth of a baby.
Even if you aren’t ready to have sex just yet, a hug or some snuggling can go a long way in the intimacy department.
It’s easy for the woman to feel as though her husband is getting impatient – especially after 9 long months of pregnancy when you may not have had as much sex as you used to.
4. Your vagina may never be the same again.
True: It’s something none of us really want to hear, but after childbirth, many women have looser vaginas. If you’re worried about this affecting your sex life, don’t. “Yes, the vaginal tissue does expand from childbirth, but it’s very pliable.” Your anatomy should return to its normal shape in the months following delivery.
However, if you feel that something isn’t quite right – pressure, a continued feeling of “looseness,” or pain during intercourse – it could be a sign of a pelvic organ prolapse and it’s something you should talk to your doctor about.
5. Breastfeeding makes you feel sexier.
While breastfeeding is great for the health of your baby, it’s probably not going to do much for your sex life.
False: Your breasts swell and may increase several sizes after having a baby, so it stands to reason that you’d feel sexier with your curvier, perkier breasts, right?
The breastfeeding hormone prolactin inhibits the release of estrogen, the hormone that gives women libido. “Breastfeeding moms can lose interest in sex and experience vaginal dryness. Some breastfeeding moms also describe a feeling of being ‘touched out.’ When you have a baby on the boob all day and you’re pumping breast milk, you might get turned off when your partner wants to touch them.”
6. Sex may hurt at first, but it shouldn’t hurt that badly.
True: Even if you had a normal birth experience, with minimal trauma, you can expect a bit of pain the first time you have sex again. Your vagina will be tender and natural dryness can amplify things. What’s not normal, however, is pain that doesn’t subside with a little lubrication or time.
“Scar tissue from a tear or episiotomy can result in painful intercourse. Scar tissue results in the ‘pinchy’ sensation that many women feel during intercourse after having a baby.”
Bottom line: If the pain doesn’t feel normal, give your body a little more time to heal and make an appointment to see your doctor.
7. Your husband may develop the “Oh-no-I’m-married-to-a-mother” syndrome.
True: He’s overjoyed to meet his new baby and is so in love with you! But wait, why is he suddenly shying away from sex? “Some men are raised to believe that mothers are placed in a separate category. You’re a mother now, and while it can be a turn-on for some men, for others it’s not.”
If you fear that your husband is shying away from sex because he sees you in a different light, talk to him about it.
“You have to remind (and show) him that you’re still the same sexy woman that you were before the baby. You may be someone’s mother now, but you’re still his lover.”
8. If you need a lubricant, something is wrong with you.
False: Every woman has heard the “frigid” rumors – that vaginal dryness means you’re closed up, disinterested in lovemaking, and not sexy. Wrong! “You may be very turned on, but still very dry.” There is nothing wrong in that.
The postpartum period is a very dry period due to hormonal changes. The remedy? Lots of lubrication. “This is a good time to experiment and find your favorite lube.”