Relationship After Baby

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. 

And Then There Were Three: Nurturing Your Relationship after Baby

Nurturing Relationship After Baby

Having a baby is a life changing transition for couples that can be filled with excitement, newness, awe, learning and exhaustion. Gone will be the days of leisurely Saturday mornings, spontaneous date nights, uninterrupted romantic evenings and sleep….yes, that will be gone for a while too. All these adjustments in combination with caring for a new baby can cause a strain on even the best of relationships. Here are some helpful tips on how to nurture your relationship while nurturing your newborn.

Family With Newborn
  1. Connect with each other every day: Even if it’s a 10 minute debrief about your day while reheating a freezer meal at 9:00 PM because that’s the first chance you’ve had for dinner, take the time to connect. Consider these ten minutes a team meeting in which you touch base with your favorite teammate in this crazy game of becoming a family. Taking time to listen to one another, show support, and offer a hug or encouraging words can revitalize you both for the next 24 hours.
  2. Make simple loving gestures: Whether it’s popping an extra bagel in the toaster oven when you make your breakfast for your partner, sending an unexpected loving text, or bringing home a favorite treat, little gestures in the trenches of new parenthood make a big difference. In all the excitement and exhaustion of the new baby, it’s nice to know your partner is still thinking of you too.
  3. Plan date nights: Date nights, like you once knew, may be hard to come by these days. However, a date does not have to involve a fancy restaurant or movie and can even be had in the comfort of your own home. Try trading off who will plan the date night and surprising each other with the plan for the evening. Get creative with staying home by doing things like pizza making, games, movie marathons, or maybe a fun project for your home together. And once you’re comfortable leaving baby for a couple hours with a family member or trusted sitter, go on a real date!
  4. Get intimate: And no, this does not have to mean sex. The postpartum period, particularly for women, can be a time of decreased libido. Between recovering from birth, fluctuating hormones and breastfeeding, many moms just want to sleep when their head finally hits the pillow at night. Intimacy can include cuddling on the couch, taking the time to kiss or hug throughout the day, holding hands while watching a TV show or more adult rated fun if you’re feeling up for it! It’s easy to let this aspect of your relationship slip when you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and unsexy. Do your best to keep the flame lit in little ways regularly. 
  5. Show appreciation for one another: Being new parents is often coupled with feeling like you are both constantly treading water. Between taking care of baby, keeping up with the housework, providing for the family, paying the bills, feeding the dog, keeping the refrigerator stocked and a dozen other necessary chores, it can often feel like a thankless job on both sides. Take the time to acknowledge everything your partner does on a daily basis to keep the family alive and well. A thank you and an acknowledgement of all the hard work from both parents can be just what we need to feel better at the end of a hard day. 
  6. Continue to support your partner’s interests and hobbies: Whether it’s a weekly yoga class, the fantasy football draft or simply a hot bubble bath with some yummy aroma therapy, allowing your partner time to take time for themselves will help them be a better parent and partner. We all need time to recharge, enjoy our hobbies and indulge a little bit and this is particularly important when you are adjusting to the major life transition of being a new parent.
  7. Communicate: Your partner should be your safe place where you can be vulnerable and share what you need and how you are feeling. Being a new parent, while one of the most amazing adjustments of your life, can also be quite overwhelming. Share your feelings, fears, victories and road bumps with your partner. Ask for help if you need it, or a hug, or advice. Being parents is like being teammates for the most special sport of your life. 

Don’t be distressed if your relationship seems to have taken a backseat since your baby has arrived. This is completely normal for couples as they navigate the overwhelming journey of parenthood. Just remember that this period of sleeplessness, newness and stress will pass and you will come out alive! The more that you and your partner can use this life changing transition to draw closer to one another and grow as parents and partners, the stronger you will come out in the end. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, postpartum health and women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.