Sex after having a baby can quite literally be the most frightening thing (second to pooping). This can especially be the case if you didn’t have positive experiences with sex before getting pregnant. You aren’t alone if this is your experience. In fact, a study conducted by Durex found that 20% of women in a heterosexual relationship never orgasm, and only 60% usually orgasm—compared to the 95% of heterosexual men. And another study reports 30% of women in the United States say sex is painful. Sex should be fulfilling and pleasurable for everyone involved. So, how can you make that a reality even if it wasn’t the case before, and now that you have a baby?
Having sex after giving birth can be daunting, not just because of your healing vagina, uterus, and/or stomach incision. You’re also exhausted, and your body may not feel like your own still. Once you have been cleared from your doctor to resume sexual activity, you don’t have to right away. If you’re ready, go for it, but remember to listen to your body. Don’t rush into something that might be uncomfortable for you just because your partner can’t wait one more second. Sex is all about trust and comfort, so starting from an uneasy place is guaranteed to make for an off experience, to say the least.
So now that you’re feeling ready to go for it, how can you create the most positive experience possible? Here are seven tips to help get you back into the groove:
Have Clear Communication
Clear and consistent communication is key in every aspect of marriage, but crucial to healthy intimacy. I love what loveisrespect.org says on this: “consent means communication every step of the way. Don’t just assume your partner is comfortable with actions.”
Both you and your partner should feel comfortable communicating what does and doesn’t feel good, what is and isn’t okay. Sex will feel different after baby, so neither of you should go into it thinking everything that was okay before is okay right away again.
It can be hard to wait to have sex again after giving birth; yes, even for you. But you need to wait until you are cleared by your healthcare provider. Then once you are cleared, things may hurt or feel uncomfortable for a time. You want your body back, your sleep back, and normal sex back, but just be patient (and for all that is holy, tell your partner to be patient! Don’t push yourself to do anything that hurts or makes you feel uncomfortable. I mean, that should go without saying, but it is a nice reminder.)
If lube wasn’t your best friend before, let it be now. Hormones during postpartum and breastfeeding can make your vagina more dry than usual. Scar tissue from tearing or just tenderness in general in your perineum will thank you for making sure that it all glides smoothly instead of tugging and pulling and sticking (and, ugh, I feel nauseous thinking about how badly that would hurt). Use lube.
Focus on Body Positivity
I always thought that when I was pregnant and postpartum I’d have no issues with my body. I’d be full-on girl power, my body is beautiful and strong and just created life!!!! It just wasn’t the case, though. It was a fight every day not to just feel awful about how I looked.
A couple things that helped me were every time a negative thought popped into my head, I would put my hand to my heart and think two sincerely positive thoughts about my body. I also found that deleting Instagram for a time completely changed my outlook on what my body should be looking like. I stopped comparing it to other women at the same stage of motherhood as me.
If we constantly tell ourselves we are unattractive, we’ll start to believe it, and the confidence that makes sex fun just won’t be there. If we can’t love ourselves, we feel unlovable. It can take work, but reworking our thoughts to speak kindly to ourselves makes such a huge difference.
Try a Vibrator
Two things that can make sex painful are vaginal dryness and shame around sex. If issues in these two areas were not a thing before having a baby, there is a higher chance that they are now after having one. We could have entire posts on vibrators, but long story short, vibrators can help stimulate a women’s clitoris to help her be properly aroused to alleviate pain and dryness when participating in partnered sex.
The vagina has nearly no nerve endings, so vaginal penetration most likely won’t be what leads to orgasm. Vibrators can help you explore what you like and get you comfortable with your own sexuality, which in turn will help you in the bedroom with your partner.
Make a Day of It
When we are exhausted and touched-out from a day of “momming,” there is nothing more we want to do than lie down in our quite room and sleep. Sex may be at the bottom of the list because every ounce of your emotional bank has been used up. You may not have even seen or spoken to your partner all day thanks to your work schedules and your children’s soccer practices, and you just aren’t turned on, which can lead to painful, unenjoyable sex.
So, make a day of leading up to it. Take time earlier in the day to prep yourself for some one-on-one time devoted to just you two. Go on a date if you can. Send each other affectionate or steamy messages throughout the day. Touch and kiss each other playfully throughout the day. And try and have any sort of foreplay throughout the day or evening. Let’s bring the foreplay back! Moms and dads need it in their lives.
Be on Top
Positioning yourself on top can be helpful when first having sex after having a baby because you are in control of speed and depth. And that’s really all I have to say about that one…
(I so hope my dad isn’t reading this. He would have stopped by now, right??)
I wish you luck on your beautiful postpartum sex journey. It is a journey. And it will get good again, I promise! Sex is important for your relationship, and I hope you can find that positive space after having a baby even if it wasn’t there before. Everyone deserves fulfilling and safe sex!
For more tips on after baby go to babycubby.com.