by Justine Deputy, RN, MSN
Before we get into the topic of sex, I want to tell you to share this blog with your partner! Yes, this information is useful to mamas, but it is always helpful for partners to try to understand what it is like for mom. So send your partner the link, forward them the email, or hand them your device to have a read too.
Let’s start with a little excerpt from The Birth Center Client Manual:
When can my partner and I resume intercourse after the baby is born? Wait until any lacerations or episiotomy repairs have healed completely, the bleeding has stopped completely and you are assured of good birth control. With total breastfeeding, a couple is typically assured of good birth control for at least the first six weeks. At that point, typically, other birth control is needed. Without total breastfeeding, ovulation may occur as early as four weeks postpartum.
Those are the basics. But as most mamas know, a lot more can be involved. Some mamas are ready at six weeks, and that is totally fine! But, many mamas are not and that is okay too.
The following are a number of factors that impact mom’s desire or interest in sex after having a baby (from Birth Center Mamas themselves).
5 Reasons You May Not Be Interested in Sex and What to Do about Them
- Feeling sexy. Let’s face it, pajamas, leaking boobs, and spit up stains aren’t the sexiest. It is hard to feel sexy when caring for a baby, in part because it is hard to find time to take care of you. After those first six weeks, try getting dressed each morning (even if that just means comfy leggings!) and making sure you have time to shower once a day. You deserve that time and it will make you feel better. Partners, let her know that she looks great!
- Boobs and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can create a number of challenges for sex postpartum. Hormones associated with breastfeeding actually make you want to have sex less. Read more about sex and breastfeeding here. Leaking boobs can also impact sex life. If you aren’t comfortable with your boobs leaking during sex, wearing a bra or a tank may make you more comfortable! Some women find that their partners may still be interested in their breasts sexually, but mom can’t separate them from being for baby. All of these feelings are normal, and boobs can be for both if you are comfortable with that! Most importantly, express how you feel to your partner. Let them know if there is something off limits.
- Touched out. That baby that you are feeding with your body and carrying around all day can make you feel like you just need some space! Sometimes, as soon as baby is down to sleep you just need some me time. All that physical touch can be overwhelming. Maybe make one evening an evening for you, and the next one focussed on spending time with your partner.
- SO tired. Even if you don’t experience some of the other challenges discussed here, almost everyone experiences exhaustion that first year. When you are exhausted and you finally crash into your bed, it can be difficult to want to have sex. Try to find times that do work for you. Sometimes a nap time may present an opportunity, or try skipping that show you were planning to watch in the evening and go upstairs a little earlier. Some days sleep is just much more needed though!
- Pain. Even though everything is back to where it should be and you are cleared for sex, it may still be a little uncomfortable. Give it a little bit of time then try again. If it continues to be uncomfortable or you are experiencing pain, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to physical therapy.
6 More Tips for Postpartum Sex:
- Be patient and accept this new you. Your body may not be the same as it was pre-baby, but that doesn’t mean you do not look great! Although you may not feel it sometimes, your partner still thinks you are sexy! Partners, make sure you express that to mom!
- Pay attention to each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle and forget the little things. Give your partner a kiss before you leave, send a nice text message during the day, and put down the phones in the evening and just talk to each other. These little things may help you and your partner connect, and help each of you get in the mood more easily.
- Lube. Since the hormones associated with breastfeeding can impact natural lubrication, make sure you have lube on hand to make things more comfortable and enjoyable!
- Talk about it. Communicate with your partner. Many times, mom may make assumptions if not openly communicating with her partner. She may assume her partner isn’t interested in her post-baby body or turned off by her breastfeeding relationship. Usually, this is NOT true. By communicating with your partner, you can express what you are each comfortable with and let some of those worries and anxieties go.
- Forget the six-week rule. Yes, physically speaking most women can be cleared to have sex at six weeks. But, that doesn’t mean mom is emotionally ready. And that doesn’t mean it feels good for mom yet. Physically, it may take some trial and error. Partners, be patient.
- Balance and priorities. There are so many new time-consuming responsibilities and balance is often hard to come by in that first year. IF you feel ready, make sex a priority. Sex is an important aspect of a relationship and can help you connect with your partner.