In the last few years we’ve started to talk about more issues in motherhood like postpartum depression, mom guilt, and the difficulties of balancing work and home life. However, if you search for articles about postpartum sex, there are few. The ones that do exist water down the topic and perpetuated the toxic narrative of “just do it”. I’m here to tell you otherwise. Here are four things to think about when it comes to postpartum sex.
1. The first time is uncomfortable.
You either just pushed a baby out or had surgery to get the baby out. Your body has not been your own for almost a year. So all of a sudden you get the green light to have sex with your partner and everything is supposed to feel like it used to? Nope, don’t buy that lie for a second. The first time sucks, plain and simple. Things are tight down there and however you engage in sex feels tense. In addition to the physical adjustment, the emotional stress is ever present. Our hormones are all over the place trying to readjust to our new sense of “normal”. It’s important to recognize how difficult the first time can be, and sometimes permission to not be on a timeline of 6 weeks take the pressure off when we are ready.
2. Being “Touched Out” is a real thing.
If you just had a baby, people have been looking and touching your vagina and other body parts for months. Now you’re breastfeeding, cuddling, rocking, and holding a baby around the clock. If you have older children, they are craving attention and touch too. Being touched out is the result of sensory sensitivity that prevents you from wanting to be touched by others. This may look like losing desire for hugging, kissing, and even sex. For me, hugs felt like spiders crawling on my arms. When a birther is touched out, sex is the last thing on our minds. Please understand that you need time to re-establish touch in a way that is comfortable for you and allows you to WANT to have sex. You aren’t going to stop cuddling your babies, so you need time to recover from the sensory overload.
3. Body Image Affects Our Sexiness.
It helps to feel sexy before and during sex. Many people do have a sex drive in pregnancy and the hormones increase our desire. However, most birthing people don’t feel super great about their appearance or their bodies post baby. It’s often a burden to get naked and be touched all over your stretch marks and baby pouch. How do you expect to get your sexy back when you are sleep deprived, touched out, and trying to take care of our mental health? For getting sexy back, romance, consent, and compliments can help. You may not be convinced of how beautiful you are or feel hot when engaging in romance or intimacy, but the support can carry things a lot further.
4. Our Emotional and Mental Health Can Put Sex on the Backburner.
Postpartum anxiety and depression are real issues. These diagnoses happen in 1 in 5 women. So adding mental health struggles to the list of factors, sex can be off the table for a while. This isn’t a bad thing and it’s not abnormal. You have to be well. Be well for you, for your baby, and for everyone around you. Sex can wait, but your health cannot. Get the help you need, ask for what you need. If you have to ask for an indefinite time to not discuss sex, that’s okay.
To wrap this up, 6 weeks is NOT enough time. Your body, your mind, and your baby is adjusting. If you are reading this and are a partner of someone who just gave birth, give them longer than you want. Ask consent for touch and give emotional support beyond what they ask for. Sometimes you don’t know what you need postpartum, but you don’t need limitations on how long it takes to figure it out. All in all, sex should not be on the top of the list to get back to post baby. Take all the time you need and give yourself permission to feel good about you so you can enjoy sex with your partner when you decide to have it.