Relationships

Sex After Baby: A Guide to Comfortable Postpartum Sex

Written by Jillian Wood, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

When your provider gives you the go ahead for sex after baby (usually around six weeks and when postpartum bleeding has stopped), does that mean that you should feel ready? Nope. We want you to decide on your own watch. Your birth story, amount of healing, fatigue level, emotional readiness, or even just finding the time, all play a part. 

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Maybe you’ve been counting down the days until you can jump in the sack with your person again. But, that day is here and… I’m not ready!

Maybe your indefinite plan is to never have sex again… I just pushed out a human, thank you very much!

Getting back in the groove can take time and it is normal normal normal to have fears and reservations. 

What’s the hold up?

Here’s what other moms are saying:

“I’m scared that it will hurt.”

At first, I can’t promise you that it won’t be different. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your body. You may have to stop before you’ve even begun and that is OK! Give yourself permission to just try again another day. Or, slow it down and spend some time with foreplay. Remember the lubrication. Hormonal changes in your body can lead to vaginal dryness, especially when breastfeeding. Take a minute to breathe and consciously relax your body from head-to-toe feeling that last bit of tension release. It may take patience and encouragement to convince your muscles and tissue to stretch. 

“I’m not feeling sexy.”

You’ve started viewing yourself as a milk-making-mom-machine. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. Your body feels soft and your breasts are leaking. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. To boost the mood, give each other a little massage with some awesome body oil. Sneak away while baby has a full belly and a fresh diaper. Or, try sex first thing in the morning after you’ve both had a few hours of consecutive sleep. If you’re worried about breastmilk mishaps, put on a supportive bra (maybe two) and tuck in a couple breast pads. Or just throw it out there, Hey honey, if my milk lets down, I may want to take a commercial break. 

“Reaching orgasm is impossible.”

Postpartum orgasm can be difficult to achieve. Inability to orgasm can be due to low pelvic tone, hormone changes, fatigue, stress, or all of the above. Psst (I’ll just set this right here)… researchers conclude that anywhere between 40-80% of women need direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. So, there’s that. To improve your pelvic tone, basic kegel exercise is a good place to start. For the sake of simplicity, be like Nike and Just Do It. When you find a few minutes of down time (in the shower, staring at the coffee pot, waiting in the car for 30 minutes in the parent-pickup line at preschool) alternate quick and slow pumps (try to hold for 10 seconds) ideally three times a day. You can’t screw this up. Don’t forget to contract the rectum as well. It can only help. 

Some women have to work quite hard to restore pelvic tone. If you are concerned about your difficulty with kegel exercise, incontinence, or inability to orgasm, call the birth center. Your body may need more than simple home exercises and some women benefit from the help of a physical therapist. 

7 Quick Tips for Comfortable Postpartum Sex:

  1. Share your fears and what you’re excited about. Maybe your partner is even worried about hurting you. Talk more about it. When that time comes, it will be more fun and less scary.
  2. What’s your birth control/family planning story? There will be time to talk options at the 6-week postpartum checkup.
  3. Put the lubrication at the bedside. Coconut oil is a perfect semi-solid natural option. If you’re using a condom, choose a water-soluble option instead. 
  4. Communicate your needs. Is one position more comfortable than another? Do you need to stop or slow it down? Tell your partner; It will build trust and be better for everyone. 
  5. Penetration isn’t recommended until after 6 weeks. This is due to increased risk of infection and the need for healing. But, if you are feeling sexual and it feels good, find your orgasm in other ways. 
  6. Remember that it will get easier. It will get better.
  7. Nothing embarrasses your midwife. If you are having problems in the bedroom, we hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know

Congrats! Your baby has arrived! This is a very exciting time for both moms and dads. As life shifts into parenthood, there are many adjustments to be made! We have talked with dads and compiled a list of the Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know.

Sleep: Some of the best advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps. You will find after a few days that two-hour naps all night is simply not enough. Take turns. Four or five hours of sleep will become an amazing amount of time and you will feel like Superman. This goes for your partner too. Remember to give her breaks and time to sleep in between nursing. You will lie around and cuddle with the baby and for the first couple of weeks will have energy for nothing else. This is normal!

Hormones: Just when you thought your partner was done with hormone changes because pregnancy is over, you will realize that there is a big hormonal shift that takes place postpartum. Her body is going through major changes. Be gentle with her. She may cry more. She may have a shorter fuse due to hormones and exhaustion. Make sure she is well fed during the day and give her a little extra love and patience.

Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is hard work! Especially the first two weeks. Expect your wife to need to talk about it. You may feel a little left out because this is something only your wife can do. You can support her by listening, making sure she has snacks and water, and getting her a good book to read during those long nursing sessions. If she has trouble with breastfeeding, offer support by setting up an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Poop: There is never too much you can say about poop.  You will talk about the color, the consistency, and how much poop there was during a diaper change. You will be proud of your baby pooping. You will Facebook about it. You will tweet about it. You will be covered in it.

Visitors: People are going to want to visit your new bundle of joy. During the first week, try to keep visitors to a minimum. If people do visit, make it your job to keep the visits about 15 minutes long. They may offer to help with meals, cleaning, dog-walking, babysitting older children, etc. Do not hesitate to say YES! And if they don’t offer, ask. These are some of the best gifts you will receive.

Your Baby: You’re baby won’t break. You will want to be gentle of course but babies are strong and made to be handled. It is completely normal for you to feel uncomfortable.  Go easy on yourself.  Sometimes it can take dads a little longer to bond with their new baby.

Friends: Once your partner has gotten settled in and you both have gotten rest and feel human again, remember to take some time for yourself. Go out with the guys for a couple of hours. Especially the ones that have been through this before! If your wife feels apprehensive about being alone organize a friend or family member to keep her company or just be there if she needs something.

Leaving the house as a family: This can be a little daunting and you will be surprised how long it takes to get out the door and you may feel like you are bring the whole house with you! Give yourself some extra time on those first few outings.

Your Partner: There are many ways to help and make the ride smoother. Compliment and encourage her. She has just given birth and she wants to hear that you are proud of her. Give her breaks, even to do something as simple as taking a shower. Reassure her that she is doing a fantastic job. Bring her meals in bed, all of them. During postpartum rest is vital for her. During recovery and healing, her main job is making milk, breastfeeding and resting.

Housework & Chores: Keeping the house clean and laundry done will be a huge relief to your partner and even further allow her to rest. She will surely thank you for it!

Health Foundations Birth Center offers a comforting, supportive environment for both moms and dads during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Schedule a Tour and Information Session today!

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

Let’s Talk about Sex! (..During Pregnancy)

Pregnant Couple Intimate

It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive about having sex during pregnancy. Common worries we hear from both mom and partner include: if it will hurt or be uncomfortable, that it will hurt your baby, that your baby is watching or that it will cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor. With all the care and caution you take to care for your body and your unborn baby, it is, of course, natural to have these feelings and reservations. The good news, though, is that for the majority of women with healthy, normal pregnancies, sex is perfectly safe. Here’s everything you need to know about sex during pregnancy.

It’s Usually Safe:

Despite the fears that you or your partner might have, for the majority of women with a healthy, normal pregnancy, sex is perfectly safe. Fortunately, baby is well protected in the uterus by amniotic fluid and the mucus plug which securely separates the two. While many women are concerned about orgasms causing uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor, this is highly unlikely in a healthy pregnancy. Most miscarriages are caused by a fetal abnormality that does not allow the fetus to develop properly and preterm labor is usually not a concern unless you have certain, predetermined conditions. Although you may experience mild uterine contractions after an orgasm, they should not harm your baby at all. 

Your Baby is Not Watching:

Despite dad’s worries that baby might be ‘watching’ or that he might ‘poke him in the head’, again, baby is safe and secure in the uterus, separated not only by the amniotic fluid but a secure mucus plug which will not be released until you are in labor. Your baby will have no awareness of your intimate acts beyond possibly enjoying the rocking motion from his cozy, safe cocoon. 

It Might Be Different:

Many things about sex, starting with your drive, might be different during pregnancy. You might find that you are more interested or not at all interested, or it may wax and wane with the progression of your pregnancy and the fluctuation of your hormones. With the nausea and exhaustion associated with the first trimester, you might find that sex is the last thing on your mind while the reprieve from discomfort often experienced in the second trimester might have you desiring it more. Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can be experienced by each woman differently so don’t be alarmed if you notice a change in your desire, one way or another. You may also find that you are able to climax more easily due to the increased blood flow to your genital region. 

In addition to your sex drive, you may find that certain positions are less comfortable with your growing belly while others are easier. Typically, opting for positions that do not put pressure on the belly or have the woman lying flat on her back for long periods of time are the safest bet. It’s also best to avoid anal sex while pregnant due to the potential for bacteria transfer and infection. Should you be sexually active with multiple partners during your pregnancy or have a partner with an active infection, it is imperative that you use protection to prevent contracting an STD. STDs can be dangerous for not only you, but your unborn baby as well. 

There Are Some Circumstances that May Make it Unsafe:

While sex during pregnancy is safe for most, there are some circumstances in which your doctor or midwife may advise against it. These may include if you:

  • Have an incompetent cervix
  • Have a history of repeat miscarriages 
  • Have a history of preterm labor
  • Have placenta previa
  • Are pregnant with multiples
  • Are high risk for a variety of other reasons
  • Have a history of pregnancy complications
  • Have bleeding or have been placed on pelvic rest.

If you have concerns about your pregnancy or feel that sex during pregnancy may be unsafe for you, speak to your doctor or midwife who can advise you on the best options for you and your partner.

You Don’t Have to Do It:

Pregnant Couple Intimate

Between sore breasts, your growing belly, nausea, frequent urination and general fatigue, it’s not uncommon to feel disinterested in sex. And that is okay! Your body is undergoing so many physical and hormonal changes and it’s perfectly okay to forego sexual activity when you’re not feeling up to it. 

Communicate your needs to your partner and allow them to do the same. Find alternatives to sex such as kissing, cuddling or massage. There are many ways to connect that don’t involve sex if you are not physically or emotionally up for it during pregnancy. 

When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife:

Although some cramping and spotting after sex during pregnancy can be normal, excessive bleeding or painful cramping may be cause for concern. Call your doctor or midwife or go to the ER if you are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, severe cramping or you are leaking amniotic fluid. Medical attention may be required. 

For questions about sex during pregnancy, natural birth, prenatal or postnatal care or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.