Let's Be Real: Sex After Baby
Alright, ladies. It's time we had a little chat.
Let's check our inhibitions at the door - we're about to get real about postpartum sex. And please, for the benefit of everyone involved here, let's rise above the need for formalities or political correctness. There's no space here for clutching your pearls, alright? You've just had a baby, for goodness sake. We all know how that happens...
After 40 weeks of pregnancy, your body is now yours once again. (Kind of. Maybe. You may be breastfeeding, which means you may still be feeling like shared space, but alas, here we are.) While you might have experienced an increased libido and easier achievement of the Big O due to increased blood flow from the second trimester forward, odds are that by the time you reached the tail end of your third trimester, you were ready to call #allthefouls in the bedroom. And for good reason! Late pregnancy comes with a slew of discomforts, and it may be particularly difficult to feel sexy with all of the physical changes you've experienced over the weeks and months prior.
But now. Now things have changed. Now that you've had your baby and are acclimating to postpartum life, you may be feeling more attractive than ever. Exhaustion from caring for a newborn aside, you're in a good place. Physically you're feeling lighter after having lost the water weight associated with pregnancy, your hair is thick and shiny, your nails are strong and growing nicely. Not to mention the fact that you now have the blessed mobility to reach your legs and lady bits for the wax or shave you likely craved for the past few weeks. So... You're ready to get back to it again. And I, my dear, am here to help you with these quick tips to make it as pleasurable as possible.
BE PREPARED FOR DIFFERENT
You're likely to find postpartum sex a little different from the sex you left behind. Your body has experienced a good bit of change, and you may find that the sensations of sex take some getting used to again. You may find that your breasts are tender or sensitive, and your hips and pelvis may just not feel "normal" - perhaps they are tight or perhaps even a little too loose due to the adjustment from round ligament softening in late pregnancy. Positioning may be a challenge the first few times. Don't be shy about saying what feels comfortable and what doesn't.
WHEN YOU FEEL SEXY, 'THE O' COMES EASY
Pun intended. I strongly encourage you to do what you need to get yourself in a mindset for sex prior to involving your partner. This may mean doing your hair, putting on your make up, or painting your nails. It's my firm belief that just as new brides are provided with a number of pampering rituals and gifts intended for intimacy, postpartum women should be in receipt of the same. Create a ritual for yourself! Here are a few tips for this:
- Purchase yourself a bit of new lingerie. I recommend checking out Frederick's or Hips & Curves for good quality items in a variety of styles and sizes.
- Spritz on a bit of perfume. Once a young woman asked Coco Chanel where one should apply perfume, and she replied "Wherever one wants to be kissed." You're welcome.
- Dress to impress. Queen Bey said best: Pull out the big guns, and put your freak'um dress on.
- Turn up the volume. Consider putting on a bit of music that makes you feel sexy - whether that's nature sounds, drum tracks, or trap music.
- If you don't use it, you lose it. Be sure to practice kegels throughout the day or, if you're feeling adventurous, try using beads to help tone your vaginal walls.
THINGS MAY NOT GO AS PLANNED
Let me tell you this right now because it's totally possible that no one else will. Things likely are not going to go as planned - especially the first time you hit the sheets after baby. For you, your body still may be impacted by a number of hormones that affect your body's responses to sexual stimulation. You may go from 0 to 60, and then stall out unexpectedly. Be prepared with a good quality lubrication at the bedside. Understand that if you are using contraception, you may need to take account of compatible lubricant formulas. Some women choose to use natural lubricants like coconut oil. If you're looking for a water based variety, LELO's personal moisturizer comes highly recommended. For your partner, there may be another challenge - he's likely gone for anywhere from six to eight weeks (or more) without sex which can result in the first few times being a shorter experience than you might prefer. Show grace, and remember that this is normal.
There's a saying in Spanish that goes el primer polvo no cuenta. Essentially, "the first time doesn't count." Things will improve - promise.
PLACE PARENTHOOD ON THE BACK BURNER
Look, I get it. You've got a baby who has your attention 100% of the time, day and night. If you're following the AAP's most current sleep recommendation, then your little one is sleeping in your room. As you'll learn over the upcoming years, there's nothing like having plans for something for yourself to set off your little one's sixth sense. But please, do yourself the favor of being present during intimacy. If baby wakes, but isn't in immediate need of anything, you can feel comfortable focusing on yourself and your partner. If it's difficult for you to do the deed with your baby in the room, don't feel obligated to stay. Explore intimacy in other areas of your home. The novelty can be a great addition to your overall experience! If you have older children, toss them some snacks, and pop in a DVD. Distraction is your friend.
THE ONLY LOCATION THAT MATTERS
Let's get right to the grain of it: the clitoris. To help guarantee that sex is enjoyable for you, please do take the time to pay this little bit of your anatomy some attention. Encourage your partner to take part in foreplay and to spend some time pleasing you before engaging in penetrative intercourse. Clitoral stimulation here is an ideal way to warm up your body for penetration, and the possibility of reaching clitoral orgasm is an added benefit. When you're ready for intercourse, it's recommended that you start slowly - especially if you've experienced a tear or episiotomy during childbirth. Once you've gotten comfortable with penetration, you can work together to reach vaginal or blended orgasm (more about that here). Speaking of orgasm, understand that some of hormones responsible for sexual stimulation are also tied to milk production. Don't be surprised if you feel let down during intimacy. Using nursing pads or having a small towel nearby is helpful for quick clean up.
CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
While you may be wanting to hit the sheets, please do be sure to check in with your doctor or midwife to be sure that your body is ready for sex again. In the meantime, consider alternative options like manual or oral stimulation. Sex is not limited to penetration, and there are definitely other routes that can be taken. A steamy make out session, oral sex, intimate massage or trying out toys together might be all you need to make it through the weeks following childbirth without feeling like you've said goodbye to sensuality. These options also provide choices for you and your partner to select from if you're unsure of what you plan to do in terms of birth control - but that's a chat for another day.