Congratulations Mama, you birthed you a baby!
Having a baby changes everything. You grow for 9 months, then you push a 30cm (or more!!) head out of an opening that previously had only accommodated a couple of inches. It isn't surprising that childbirth can change your sex life.
First Thing's First
Focus on your healing. Having a baby is a massive, massive, body changing event. Rest as much as you can, go gently on yourself, and focus on healing your body. There are a great number of resources for post partum mothers including doula services, healing services, books, and DVDs - the message in all of them is VERY clear: Don't be a super mom. Rest, heal, give yourself time. Did we mention REST?
How Soon Can You Have Sex After Childbirth
Most health professionals don't recommend having sex until 6 weeks after birth. This is to give your cervix a chance to close, your lochia (bleed) to stop, and your body to start recovering. Realistically, your body isn't going to fully recover for another 12 months (Although, anecdotally WE think that number is closer to three years!!) Anyway, what we're saying is, if you feel amorous, go for it. If you're not in the mood, give yourself time.
Having a child gives a new meaning to coitus interuptus... You and your partner may need to get creative with the nook nook wiggy wiggy, and have sex in more creative places. We always say to our childless friends that if they're only having sex in the bedroom on Saturday mornings, they're missing out!!
Due to hormonal changes after birth, you may experience an increased sex drive. This can also be stimulated by hormones from breast feeding. Good news is it's normal. Just be sure to wait until your lochia (bleed after birth) has stopped, as your cervix needs to close up again, to minimize infection risk.
A tip from a midwife, post birth - for at least the first 6 weeks, do as LITTLE AS POSSIBLE... and your bleed will stop faster, you'll heal more effectively, and you'll be able to spend that time bonding with your new baby!
You may experience the opposite, also due to those lovely hormones (and sleep deprivation, and overwhelm, and well..... you have a new baby!!) Give it time. Go gently on yourself, and take the time to focus on intimacy in your relationship, rather than sex. Massage, touch, cuddles, and just loving on each other can be blissful very healing post-natally.
Woman, you just had a baby, if there isn't someone in your life treating you like a Goddess, hire a post natal doula to help out.
Pain And Tenderness
If you had a caesarean (C-section) or an instrumental birth, you're likely to experience some level of discomfort.
Give your scars time to heal. Speak to your care provider if you think your scar is causing more discomfort than it should - pain isn't normal, and it can be addressed.
Episiotomy scars can be helped with physiotherapy and ultrasound. If you're experiencing discomfort, it's a great idea to speak to your GP and book an appointment with a women's physiotherapist. They'll test your pelvic floor strength and help you rebuild your muscles, as well as decrease episiotomy/tearing scarring.
Sex after episiotomy is usually OK - go slowly, gently use lots of lube - and NO, it's NOT meant to hurt!! If it's hurting, there is more healing to be done, and you need more time.
Vaginal dryness is those lovely hormones again. The obvious answer is a good quality, healthy lube. (www.goodcleanlove.com) sells some awesome vagina friendly lubes.
In a pinch, you can use plain coconut oil. Don't choose lubes filled with petrochemicals - they'll dry you out more. Avoid lubes with fruit compounds, they'll irritate vaginal yeast, resulting in a lovely case of thrush.
Absolute Sheer Exhaustion
Your body just performed a miracle. A MIRACLE you hear me?! And now that the pregnancy discomforts have hopefully subsided, nature has another challenge for you - and that is recovering from said miracle production, on VERY LITTLE SLEEP.
This is why we tell you to take those first 6 weeks off (But, I'm betting you didn't like most Western Women). Rest when you can, communicate with your partner, and remember eventually that baby is going to not be a baby any more. The exhaustion DOES pass, and it DOES get easier.
If you're struggling more than you think you should be - get help. Get Support. There are several charities, organizations, and networks available for post natal moms to turn to for house help, counseling, and general kid-wrangling assistance.
Vaginal Muscular Changes & Bladder Incontinency
You just pushed a big head out of your vagina... there are going to be muscular changes (read, your vagina is going to be looser) The good news is, muscle can be toned. As your body heals, kick it with your kegels and rebuild your pelvic floor.
On the note of pelvic floor and helping your body heal, belly binding or a corset-type brace can be useful in helping bring all of those abdominal muscles back together.
Vaginal Flora Changes
Hormones, bacteria, and general bodily changes can bring about vaginal flora changes. While thrush is the last thing you want to be worrying about post birth, it is a reality that many women face.
Topically, you could consider a treatment as recommended by your GP or pharmacist.
Systemically - invest in your gut health with a good pro-biotic and immune boosting foods.
Pushing out a baby also means that some women push out the blood vessels in their anus. Lovely isn't it 🙂
Poo gently, keep up your fibre, drink lots of water, use sitz baths, and an ice pack if it helps. Don't engage in anal sex until you're well and truly healed (We didn't have to tell you that though right?
The New Normal
Now that your body and life have been turned upside down, I suppose we should end this article by reassuring you that everything will go back to normal. Sorry, it won't. It might get better, but at the very least, it'll be different. Of COURSE it'll be different, but different doesn't mean bad 🙂
You have a post natal body, and frankly, that's AWESOME. Your vaginal walls are thinner, meaning you might have more sensitivity. There's a perk! You are a goddess, honour yourself, and give yourself time to re-build and heal.
Do you have post natal sex tips? Share them with us!!