WHILE your doctor will likely give you the green light for intercourse four to six weeks after childbirth, that doesn’t mean your post-pregnancy sex life will snap back to what it was before the arrival of your baby. Read on for six common sex-after-pregnancy problems and the tips you need to get back in your groove.
- Your partner is ready, you’re not
Even if it’s been six weeks since you gave birth, your C-section wound has (mostly) healed, and you’re no longer sore, you may still not want to have sex. Don’t underestimate what your body is going through; your hormones are changing dramatically, your uterus is shrinking, your C-section or episiotomy wounds are healing, and you’re likely exhausted and overwhelmed caring for your new baby. Plus the hormones involved in breastfeeding can lower libido.
What to try: Take it easy on yourself. Let your partner know how you’re feeling and foster closeness in other ways: cuddle, kiss, or simply play with your baby together. Assure him (and yourself!) that your body will heal, your libido will return, and you’ll feel like your old, frisky self again soon.
- You can’t wait six weeks to get it on!
On the flipside, you might be eager to get back in the sack with your partner before the standard six-week mark — especially if you weren’t able to have sex as often during your pregnancy.
What to try: Check with your doctor: It may be okay to go for it sooner, as long as all post-partum bleeding has stopped (otherwise, you risk infection).
- Your breasts are tender and leaky
If you’re nursing, your breasts may be sore, heavy, and prone to inconvenient let-downs (like during orgasm, which stimulates some of the same hormones as breastfeeding). And after a day of having your baby on your breasts, you may want them left alone at night.
What to try: If it makes sex more comfortable, try wearing your nursing bra or a tank top during sex. You can also pump or nurse your baby right before sex so your breasts aren’t as full and achy. Take comfort knowing that as you and your baby get into a breastfeeding groove, your breasts will become less sensitive, which means both you and your partner will soon be better able to enjoy their thanks-to-nursing ampleness.
- Sex doesn’t feel the same
After pushing out a baby, your vaginal muscles may be temporarily stretched out, which may make sex feel a little different than it did pre-baby. But don’t let that worry you — the differences are likely to be subtle and temporary. And different isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just new!
What to try: Everybody’s favourite sex-ercise: Kegels! While you’ve heard about the benefits of doing pelvic-floor exercises during pregnancy, they continue to be your best friend once the baby has arrived and can help get your vagina back in shape faster. Do them whenever and wherever you can – while you’re driving, at your desk.
- Intercourse is painful
Post-pregnancy hormonal changes can cause vaginal dryness, which may be the source of pain during sex. Breastfeeding also reduces vaginal lubrication, and you may still be sore from childbirth, too.
What to try: Let your partner know about these physiological changes (which have nothing to do with your attraction to him!) and have plenty of water-based lubricant on hand during sex. If the pain is coming from an irritated C-section, episiotomy stitch or tear, give yourself another week or two to heal before trying again – and take it slow when you do. If you feel pain and/or pressure even when you’re not having sex, check with your doctor to rule out an infection.
- You feel body-conscious
It takes two months or so for your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size, so in the meantime you may still look like you’re around six-months pregnant. What’s more, it can take up to a year or longer to lose your pregnancy weight…add stretch marks, maybe a scar, and bigger feet.
What to try: Take a look at your newborn and marvel at all your body has accomplished, Mama! You grew a baby in your belly and then brought her into the world. She’s here because of your blood, sweat, and tears. What could be stronger, more beautiful, and more sensuous? Your partner is beyond impressed. You should be, too.