Sex After The Delivery
Will childbirth and caring for a baby change your sex life? Here are the facts, plus tips on how to keep your marriage strong.
The day that a doctor informs a couple that they are expecting is usually a day of rejoicing. The doctor’s words trigger beautiful images of sweet happy baby held lovingly in the arms of its mother or father. But as the weeks go by, the initial excitement begins to settle, and parents are left to face the new demands that a pregnancy and eventually a child places on them and especially on their sexual relationship.
After The Baby is Born
The speed with which a woman regains her desire for sex after delivery often depends upon the type of labor that she undergoes. Recovery from a natural vaginal delivery is usually quicker. However, if a woman undergoes episiotomy, the site of the stitches can be sore for weeks or even months afterwards. Women who have Cesarean section also require more time to heal.
Doctors generally advise couples not to partake in sexual intercourse until postpartum bleeding is over. Usually, sexual activity can be resumed from three to six weeks after birth, however some women find it difficult to resume sex even after the doctor pronounces it safe to do so. A decrease in estrogen levels postpartum leads to a definite lack of natural vaginal lubrication, which becomes a definite problem during sex. Water-based lubricating gel is best used during this time.
“My doctor had informed me that due to the episiotomy, I would probably experience some pain for about a week or 10 days,” says Salwa. “What actually happened was that the pain lasted for almost a full month after delivery. The pain, combined with the fatigue that I experienced due to lack of sleep, left little room or interest in physical intimacy with my husband.” According to Salwa, it took about three months before she regained some interest in sex.
Emotional factors also affect a couple’s sexual relationship after delivery. Some women experience postpartum depression, which can last from three weeks up to six months after the birth.
Fatigue and pain are direct contributing factors to this condition. Breast-feeding mothers are more likely to come out of this depression faster than mothers who bottle-feed, because the body of a breast-feeding mother releases high levels of oxytocin, which helps buffer stress.
Even a mother who is not suffering from postpartum depression is likely to feel exhausted by sleepless nights and the constant demands of a newborn. It is common for new mothers to experience a loss of libido and completely focus on their babies. Fathers can feel left out and even jealous of the baby, but there are positive steps a father can take. A mother who gets help after delivery so that she can get enough rest is more likely to regain interest in sex than a mother who is left to manage her own, and a father’s role here is very important. He can help change, feed, bathe and comfort the baby as well as give his wife emotional support. The more support a husband gives his wife, the faster she’ll regain interest in physical intimacy.
On her part, the wife can remember to pay some attention to her husband as well as the baby, and involve him in caring for their new child. When they share this experience together, the baby will strengthen his parent’s relationship instead of coming between them.
While sexual intimacy may temporarily decrease after the baby is born, this is a passing phase. When the mother gets a chance to rest and recover and both parents become accustomed to their new roles, the couple’s love life will get back on track. Parenthood is a powerful bond. With patience and understanding, a couple’s love life can be as good, if not better, than before.
Keep Your Relationship Strong
Communication is vital. Discuss what makes you feel good or bad in your intimate relationship. Tell your husband if you are apprehensive, tired, or in pain. Encourage him to share his feelings with you.
You may find woman-on-top or side-by-side positions more comfortable during pregnancy and after delivery.
Resume your love life gradually after delivery. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right for you.
If you are feeling self-conscious about sex because you still have access weight or a bulging tummy after having your baby, take positive action. See your doctor for an eating plan and exercises to regain your shape.
Even if you don’t feel like having sex, make your husband feel special and cared for in other ways. This will help him understand that this is a passing phase. Assure him that your love life will resume eventually.
To protect their privacy, the names of mothers in this article have been changed.