In part one of the discussion on postpartum sex, I mentioned factors to consider to understand that 6 weeks is not typically enough time to be “ready” to resume your sex life. Part 2 is about how to establish readiness, which is often easier said than done. However, intimacy and physical touch IS an important aspect of a relationship. You may just not know how to get your groove back, so here are some tips to think about:
1. Re-establish touch.
This sounds so silly when you think about touch with your partner. However, while your body has been altered, your senses have been altered as well. If you are feeling touched out, it’s going to take more than “just doing it” to feel comfortable with intimacy and sex again. Start with something simple. Hold hands on the couch a few minutes at a time or have your partner put their arm around you. Arms and upper body are some of the most sensitive areas postpartum, and it is important to feel comfortable before moving below the waist. Once simple touch is established, continue to touch on the waist and thighs. This could take days or sometimes weeks based on how you’re feeling about this process. Go as slow as you need, and communicate when you touch is too much or you want more.
2. Consent is key.
Yes, consent occurs within partnerships too! The concept of consent is not just about sex or sexual touch, but it can and needs to occur with many aspects of a relationship. When reconnecting physically and sexually, tell your partner you’d like them to ask to touch you or ask what you are comfortable with each time you are re-establishing physical connection. Phrases like, “Can I touch here?” or “may I hold your hand?” or even, “I’d like to hold you, is that okay with you?” are key. Asking not only may make you feel comfortable about knowing where and how you will be touched, but it can help you feel less anxious about what’s next. On top of that, it re-establishes respect with your partner to communicate there’s no pressure to go further than what you want. Tell them you want to be asked and saying yes feels more like a choice than an obligation.
3. Take the lead for what’s next.
Regardless of how sex has looked like in the past for you and your partner, it is and will be different from here on out. After a baby you change, your body changes, and your relationship changes. Communication in sex is key. “I don’t like that”, “touch here instead”, and “I like that” are important phrases to incorporate. It’s also okay to take the lead. When you partner is asking for consent and you feel like you are ready to go further, tell them what you want. Tell them how and where to touch you. Talk to them about what turns you on and where not to touch. For a lot of postpartum people, breasts are off limits. Say that to your partner. Allow them to listen to you. Allow your pleasure to be a priority. If you are having a good time, it may turn them on even more.
Postpartum sex does not have to be dreadful, but it does need to be when you’re ready and how you’re ready. No one should have to feel obligated to perform sex because of an arbitrary timeline. You deserve to take all the time you need to give the greenlight for touch, intimacy, and sex. And when you’re ready, you deserve to enjoy it. Sex post baby is different, but it can definitely still be good.