Labour and delivery are a gateway to the new adventure of parenthood, but can also put a serious damper on your sex life. PLN takes a closer look at the roadblocks parenting can put in place and some tips and tricks to get back in the groove.
“The last thing I want is to get pregnant again.”
Parenting a newborn is tough. Not only are you responsible for the emotional and physical needs of a being that cannot communicate, you are literally learning while on the job. It’s no wonder the thought of adding morning sickness to your day is enough to shut down any bedroom activities.
Christina waited just over three weeks to resume her sex life.
“I did it because I wanted to my hormones were on fire,” she said, adding that she found out she was pregnant at her six-week postpartum check-up.
While there are factors that can affect your fertility, such as delayed ovulation with breastfeeding, there is no data to back up the theory that giving birth increases your likelihood to conceive.
While you should put your birth control methods in place prior to resuming your sex life (if you are not wishing to conceive again) your chances of another pregnancy aren’t increased.
“I’m afriad it’s going to hurt”
While many healthcare providers give couples the go-ahead at the six-week check-up, in reality, a vaginal delivery causes trauma to the pelvic muscles, nerves and connective tissue and can even result in a pelvic organ prolapse. By six weeks postpartum, the tissue has not recovered, despite this being the last time most women are seen as a follow-up after birth.
According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, more than half of the women surveyed experienced pain during sex after the birth of their baby.
Sarah waited about three months after the birth of her first baby to have sex again.
“I was badly torn after my first and the six weeks just did not seem long enough for me. It was pretty painful too.”
While getting busy may be off the table, it doesn’t mean that you cannot still have sexual contact. Don’t focus on penetration as an end goal. Try exploring other ways to feel good with your partner (massage anyone?) and work your way up to sex when you are healed and ready.
A rough recovery after birth led Kira and her partner to wait about 10 months after the birth of their first baby to start having sex again.
“We really missed each other and wanted that connection back,” she says.
Caitlin waited just over a year before getting back into her bedroom groove after the birth of both her kids.
“My hubby was amazing about it,” she says.
“I’m just so tired.”
If you are feeling exhausted as a new parent, you are not alone. In fact, 76 percent of new parents report problems getting enough sleep after the birth of their baby (who are these well rested 24 percent? They must be the ones with night nannies!)
When you aren’t sleeping, sex can be the last thing on your mind when you finally hit the sack at night.
The good news is, sex doesn’t need to happen at night (or even in your bed). Parenting often means taking advantage of every nap time, sleep-in (these are rare) or quick encounter you can manage.
Getting more sleep can actually help your sex life (show this to your partner to score a nap!) A study performed on postpartum mothers in Scotland found that mothers who reported feeling tired, depressed or experiencing perineal pain had a higher instance of postpartum sexual problems.
“I feel guilty because my partner wants it and I don’t”
After growing, and birthing a newborn, many new mothers are finally able to have their bodies to themselves, and the last thing they want to do is share them with their partner.
“At the time I definitely felt the pressure from my (now ex) husband,” says Crystal.
“I wasn’t ready when we first attempted but did it anyway. I think at that point after my first child especially, it was the last thing on my mind.”
It may be the last thing on your partner’s mind as well. A new study showed that men’s interest in sex also decreases after the birth of a child.
While you may not be ready for sex, what you and your partner may be craving is a reconnection. Hold hands, have some good conversations, kiss each other and live like a married couple, not a pair of roommates.
Chantelle tried to have sex at eight weeks postpartum but decided she wasn’t ready.
“Hubby understood and we didn’t get back to it until the baby was eight months. I had absolutely no interest in sex before that.”
“I don’t feel comfortable in my body anymore”
After nine months of pregnancy, labour and delivery, your body can become, well, unrecognizable. Instead of a cute pregnancy belly, you are now deflated yet swollen. Your breasts are huge, yet painful to the touch, and don’t even get us started to what happened to your lady bits.
You may not be ready to face your body in a full-length (or handheld!) mirror, let alone give your partner a front row seat.
Healing your body after baby will take time. Just because your body is different does not make it any less worthy of your self-love. In fact, body image issues have been linked to prenatal and postpartum depression.
Extra weight, stretch marks, and engorged breasts are not reasons to hide your body from your partner. Your body has just done something amazing and you need to embrace and wear your tiger stripes with pride.
There are things you can do to feel more comfortable in front of your partner. Take a relaxing bubble bath (and let your partner listen for baby) to relax your muscles and mind. Set up some soft lighting and wear something that makes you feel pretty. A silky robe or even a cute tank top and panties are great ways to feel sexy without showing off everything. If you don’t have anything that fits you well, go out and get yourself something new that makes you feel good. It’s a worthwhile investment in your relationship.
Let us know in the comments what helped you get back into the groove after baby!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.