Sex after giving birth – everything you need to know

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I hope your sex life to date has given you a great deal of pleasure because you deserve all the pleasures life has to offer! So how is post pregnancy sex… different?

While pregnancy, child birth, and parenting can shift the dynamic, especially in those early months, there isn’t any reason why you should not still have fulfilling intimacy and amazing post pregnancy sex.

post pregnancy sex
Photo credit: @heftiba on Unsplash

Post pregnancy sex: the first 6 weeks

For the first six weeks, chances are you’ll need to go back to basics for a while. Until your doctor gives you a postnatal check-up, full sex is recommended to be replaced by other forms of intimacy such as kissing, cuddling, and other ways you can feel connected to yourself and to your partner.

After giving birth your delicate vaginal tissues are strained, possibly bruised or torn and these injuries take weeks to heal. If you had a caesarean birth you have had major abdominal surgery and your incision needs to heal. Breasts are often painful as milk supply starts to come in and lack of sleep really messes with your head!

In addition to the physical recovery, hormones are are rocking you with an emotional earthquake, complete with after-shocks that have your moods swinging high and low.

So if you are not feeling sexy or wanting to be physically intimate, that is totally normal! If you find yourself still in the mood despite everything, well you go mama!

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The six week check

Let’s discuss the ‘6-week check’. That appointment with your Doctor or OB-GYN when you’re pretty much a zombie surviving on no sleep and you are still in shock both physically and emotionally about the heck just happened. Often it goes a little like this: your baby gets a check over and they ask you ‘how you’re feeling’ and if ‘everything has healed up okay’ and other such vagaries. Then assuming no urgent referral or issues, you’re sent on your way with a cheery ‘all-clear to have sex and start exercising’.

However the reality is that embarking on post pregnancy sex or any other definition of sex may not be your top priority right now. Know that your ‘six-week’ check is an arbitrary, and very early, postnatal check in. It does not mean you should be starting or dong anything at all you don’t feel like doing.

So when are you ready for post pregnancy sex?

In the midst of new motherhood, it might feel like your overstretched tender body will never feel like you again, tingle to the touch, or bend into any playful positions or moods. But post pregnancy sex will be fun again. Take your time.

But for now, concentrate on you, on healing and strengthening yourself physically and emotionally… on cherishing love, if not yet passion. Don’t rush your body. That birth thing was HARD and your body needs time. Be nice to yourself. If there is pain or something just doesn’t feel right at all, book in with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist (you can get a GP referral or go private).

How long will it take? That’s personal to you. You’ll get there when you’re good and ready.

Will sex after childbirth ever feel the same?

It might feel different. It might even be better. But yes it should feel good. Will you love your body and feel sexy once more? Yes, definitely! You can restore your body confidence after childbirth, but it takes, time, effort and the right exercises.

Use lube. Be comfortable. Say what feels good and what doesn’t (it might be different than before). Never continue through pain or discomfort. No, it’s not ‘supposed to hurt a bit’. Control speed, and intensity and call time whenever you need to.

So relax about post pregnancy sex… the truth is most women who have given birth have their priorities right: tea, sleep, cuddles.

Pelvic floor tips for when you feel ready to start having sex

Here are some ways you can nurture yourself both physically and emotionally as well as nurture your relationship with your partner during the whirlwind of postpartum:

Whenever *you feel ready* for postpartum sex, begin reconnecting to your pelvic floor through mind-to-muscle connection and breath work. No matter what kind of birth you had, your pelvic floor muscles have been through a lot.

Hypertonic pelvic floor and it’s role in sexual discomfort

A hypertonic (too-tight) pelvic floor can cause pain during intercourse so getting yourself reconnected with releasing those muscles, as well as properly recruiting them, will really help.

Not sure where to start with your breath work? Don’t stress, your MUTU breath and MUTU core has you covered!

Communication is key to healthy postpartum sex

Have open and honest conversations with your partner (and with yourself!) about what each of your needs are during this time.

Find ways to come together that you both feel good with, to keep your connection and intimacy (doesn’t need to be physical) alive. Being in tune with one another will just help you both feel better during the long nights and adjustments that come with that beautiful new baby. Lean on and support one another.

When you do get the all clear from your physician to resume activities (post pregnancy sex included) don’t feel that you HAVE to. You don’t have to do anything you are not ready for. Wait until you are ready, physically and emotionally. Communicate this with your partner.

Postpartum sex tips: Lubrication and Going Slow

When you do feel ready, have extra lubrication on hand. Postpartum hormones can affect natural lubrication.

Go slow, ensure your body is ready for penetration to limit pain and speak up if there is any pain or discomfort. Again, this goes for physical pain and/or emotional pain.

Remember, sex should be empowering, fun, and pleasurable for YOU. The moment it isn’t, slow down or stop.

Do you have feelings or symptoms you’re not sure about? Something not feel quite right? Check out this post on What’s Normal and What Isn’t For Your Post Pregnancy Body

Wendy Powell
Wendy Powell
Wendy Powell, Dip PT is Founder and CEO of MUTU System. Wendy is a highly certified postpartum specialist and master trainer, as well as a speaker, Femtech entrepreneur and mentor.

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