SEX After Pregnancy
Sex can be important ingredient of a successful long term adult relationship. Pregnancy, childbirth, children and particularly lack of sleep can interrupt the sex life of a couple. Here are some tips and techniques for a successful return to sexual intimacy after childbirth.
Sex After Childbirth
In many indigenous cultures, a woman and her new baby will be totally cared for by other women for a period of 6-12 weeks after childbirth/ She will be able to totally focus on her newborn and is not responsible for household duties, caring for other children or her partner/ In Western cultures, women are not afforded this luxury. It's almost impossible to warn prospective parents about the huge changes that come with the birth of their first baby/
In our 'supermum' culture women are expected to not only care for a newborn, other children, the house but also to be focused on her career and ready to be sexual at the drop of a hat. Such unrealistic expectations put a huge amount of pressure on the modern woman.
A woman will go through huge physical and hormonal changes post childbirth along with emotional and lifestyle. There is no doubt that for most couples all of these affect your relationship/ Adjusting to limited sleep and caring for a baby may mean to last thing you want to be thinking about is sex. Post childbirth is a special and important time for a couple to bond not only with the new baby but also with each other. Most women will be breastfeeding up to 8 hours per day in total (7 days a week). It's a full time job!
One of the most commonly asked questions is; "When can we resume having sex after childbirth?"
The short answer is "when SHE is ready" and all women are different/ While some women feel sexual a few weeks after childbirth, others don't feel like having sex for moths. It is important to communicate about this prior to the birth and after in a loving and respectful way/
A lot of women say the last thing they want or felt like in the months after birth is sex/ "I felt sex was just another thing I had to do before I could go to sleep"
It is important to be patient and to keep the focus on emotional support, love and affection. Resuming the physical side of a sexual relationship is much more likely to happen in a positive way if there is still a level of affection between you.
- Pregnancy and childbirth is a time of huge physical change for women and often your body looks and feels very different. This can be disconcerting and it's important that partner's give lots of positive feedback and affirmation. Feelings of being unattractive or not desirable are common. Western culture desexualises women who have given birth so it's important to reclaim your sexual self when you are ready in a positive way. How a woman feels about her birth experience may affect how she feels about her body
- The magic date given is usually after 6 weeks. Women will bleed/have vaginal discharge for anything from 10 - 28+ days after giving birth. When this has ceased it is safe to resume penetrative sex. 6 weeks is usually the time when you have a medical check-up and the doctor will give you the all clear for sex/ It's actually physically safe to have penetrative sex after bleeding has stopped, bruising has gone down and any tears or incisions have fully healed.Vaginal tearing -many women tear during childbirth and these can be both uncomfortable and painful. Often tears receive stitches and may heal leaving scar tissue.Episiotomy (when the perineum is cut to aid in childbirth)- needs to be fully healed and often scarring can be sensitive and painful after the wound has healed. Penetration may feel uncomfortable and different to pre birth
- Caesarean - This is a major operation and the incision needs to be fully healed before any sexual activity is resumed. Haemorrhoids -many women get piles during pregnancy or childbirth. These are often painful and may take a while to heal. Sometimes an operation is required.Women often experience nipple pain and with the focus on breastfeeding many women find they do not want their breasts receiving any sexual attention
- Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which may counteract the effect of Oestrogen. Many women experience lowered levels of libido while breastfeeding although the experience of breastfeeding may feel orgasmic as Oxytocin is the same hormone released during orgasm. This is desigbned so that women feel relaxed and bond with their baby.Baby blues or post-natal depression - hormone levels take a sudden drop around 3 weeks.Contraception - the most appropriate contraception to use while breastfeeding are barrier methods such as condoms or a diaphragm.
- Make sure a woman never feels pressured to have penetrative sex
- Men can be self responsible for their sexual needs and that the woman doesn't need to feel guilty about not being sexual. Be aware that the new baby's needs' will be at the forefront/ Sometimes men may feel like they are not getting enough attention.Make sure you give her sensual touch that is not sexual (such as a massage); be aware that a woman may feel 'touched out' by constant contact with her baby.Focus on sexual activities that give her pleasure and make her feel comfortable such as cunnilingus.Always use lubricant - breastfeeding will mean that a woman will not produce as much natural lubrication.Feed baby or express before lovemaking as arousal will cause letdown of milk. If milk does let down you may want to consider wearing a bra and breast pads (purchase a gorgeous bra just for sex!)
Keep sex fun and without expectation:
For most couples the reality is that you will have less sex after the birth of your baby. Bub may seem to have an uncanny knack of waking just as you are about to orgasm! And the reality is that babies needs come first. This is the time to make sure sex is fun and without expectation. Laugh with each other and remember that babies are only small for a very short time.
Many women find how they experience orgasm may have changed. Physical, hormonal and emotional factors may contribute to this. It's important to take the time to get to know your body and it's new responses post childbirth. Let go of expectation and make sure your partner is sensitive to your needs. Some women may find it takes longer to orgasm or they may orgasm for the first time. Others may find that whilst they can orgasm easily the sensation is different, either much more fleeting or longer lasting. Purr is a natural Clitoral Arousal Gel, with L'Arginine as the main vasodilator ingredient, this is effective for speeding up a woman's physical arousal and many women find it easier to orgasm. Just a small amount is needed/
Pelvic floor muscles
These are the muscles that stretch in a figure 8 around the vaginal opening and the anus. They are connected to the uterus and whole pelvic area. During childbirth these muscles are stretched and strained and it takes some concentrated effort to tone and strengthen them. However having toned pelvic floor muscles is essential not only for its health benefits in terms of preventing incontinence and issues such as prolapsed, it is also essential for sexual pleasure. The stronger your PC muscles the more likely you are to orgasm and experience your full orgasmic potential. Smartballs are fantastic for toning and strengthening your PC muscles and recommended by midwives. They are very effective and a must for women who have given birth.
Time for toys
Post childbirth will often be a time when your sex life becomes more simple. You have limited time and energy and doing what you know gives each other pleasure may be the focus. However for a woman who has given birth what she finds pleasurable may have changed. Be open and honest with your partner about what you are feeling. This can be the perfect time to introduce toys into your love making or invest in a new toy. Using a toy together can be lots of fun and also mean you can discover new pleasurable techniques as a couple. A vibrating toy such as the We-Vibe, that combines G-spot and clitoral stimulation make feel fantastic. If you are wanting a toy that is more substantial for penetration many of the lager styles of the skin friendly Fun Factory vibrators is an excellent option. For those wanting something a little more petite the quiet and discreet rechargeable Lelo vibrator range is very popular and they are fun toy to use together. Having a beaded masturbator on hand for your male partner can come in handy -you can use it on him or send him off for some masturbatory pleasure.
If you have experience any tearing of the perineum or had haemorrhoids it is a good idea to go very slowly with any anal play. Even if you are very experienced with anal penetration you may be surprised to find yourself back at beginners level. Start with a petite silicone buttplug and use lots of lube. You may need to gradually work up to being able to take a dildo or your partners penis...and if you experience any tearing of scar tissue or bleeding make sure you hold off until it is fully healed.
Do be aware that both pregnancy and childbirth can hugely affect a woman's libido. This is different for all women and is affected by both physical and emotional changes. For many women it's important to make time to reconnect with yourself as a sexual being. If you feel like masturbating it's fine to have sexual fun with yourself, even if you are not ready to be sexual with your partner. Purr Clitoral Arousal Gel can often intensify clitoral arousal and sensation, and Lavigra is an excellent herbal supplement for lifting libido. The most important thing is taking your time and having fun along the way.