BODY

The Truth About Sex Postpartum

11 May, 2022

You just pushed an eight-pounder out of your body and your nipples are leaking, the last thing on your mind is probably sex. If this is you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many women feel lack-luster toward sex postpartum.

After everything your body has gone through, it’s no wonder– 9 months of expansion during pregnancy, hours of delivery, potential perineal tears, episiotomy or cesarean, raging hormones, and lingering pain. Add on the exhaustion of having a newborn or postpartum depression, and well, it’s not a recipe for romance.

Here is the good news. Those feelings won’t last forever. A parenting site called Channel Mum did a survey asking participants how they viewed their sex lives post-children. 94 percent said they were perfectly fulfilled and 57 percent stated that sex was better after becoming parents! So, if you’re feeling anxious or exhausted right now, hang on, it’s going to get better.

“In a recent survey, 94 percent of women said they were perfectly fulfilled in postpartum sex, and 57 percent stated that sex was better after becoming parents!

When Is It Safe To Have Sex Postpartum?

After delivering a baby, your body needs a break so things can “return to normal.” Your vagina, uterus and cervix all must contract back down to their original size. In addition, your body will bleed after birth to release the lochia (a discharge of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue). "When you're pregnant, hormones cause the uterine lining to thicken to support the placenta," says OB-GYN Christine Masterson, M.D. at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey. "After delivery, the uterus begins to contract and shrink back down to its usual size, and the uterine lining sheds." It is for these reasons that doctors recommend waiting 6 weeks before resuming penetrative sex. This stands for both vaginal deliveries and C-sections.

Body-Image Insecurity & Sex

While fatigue, fear of pain, and low libido can hinder sexual reconnection, one of the biggest factors that cause women to avoid postpartum sex is body-image. Society has played a role in this mental stigma surrounding the body– “It’s almost as if women are expected to have babies… but then look like they didn’t,” says Chelsea Skaggs, founder of Postpartum Together in Ohio. We don’t need to be subjected to the “bounce back” narrative. This kind of thinking produces insecurity and fear of inadequacy.

Your body changed to grow a human inside of you, it is no surprise that your post-birth body is different. BUT different doesn’t equal bad. When you look in the mirror, you might see stretch marks, a C-section scar, a loosened tummy, a widened ribcage, etc. Some of these might be permanent, others may not. But know this, those new marks, scars, or physical shifts don’t make you less sexy. On the contrary, these changes showcase the strength, endurance, and quite frankly, the bad-ass woman you are. Your body did a magnificent thing! You should celebrate that.

“Your body changed to grow a human inside of you, it is no surprise that your post-birth body is different. BUT different doesn’t equal bad.”

When you look in the mirror, thank your body for what it did and continues to do. As Women’s Health specialist Erin Lamb, PT, MSPT in Michigan says, “Embrace your postpartum body. Understand that you are changing every day and realize what your body just accomplished. If you continue to struggle, don't be ashamed to ask for help.” Talking with a therapist can go a long way in helping you silence the inner critic and show yourself love.

It’s important to look forward and not backward. Instead of crying over those size-six skinny jeans, buy a new pair that show off your assets and make you feel good. New York psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks, MD said, “Wanting to look like your prior self may be as much about reconnecting with your pre-baby identity as your pre-baby body. Switching on circuits in your pleasure system from your old life may help you feel more like your old self without your body having to do all the work.” One of these circuits can be sex. Reconnecting sexually with your partner can remind you of your sexiness, produce feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine, release stress, and bond you to the person who loves you right now, in the body you have.

“Wanting to look like your prior self may be as much about reconnecting with your pre-baby identity as your pre-baby body. Switching on circuits in your pleasure system from your old life may help you feel more like your old self without your body having to do all the work.” ~ Alexandra Sacks, MD (New York)

Post Pregnancy Sex Tips

With a new baby, there are many distractions that derail partners from connecting. That is why resuming intimacy is important. Sex helps us connect physically, emotionally, and mentally. "If there's no physical intimacy, or if it's really limited, couples start to feel like roommates, which is rarely a good thing. Feeling disconnected can lead to resentment," says Amy Levine, a New York City sex coach and mom. "Start with kissing or touching each other in a loving way, and work your way up to post-delivery sex when you're ready. Sex can be the thing to remind you that you're on the same team—and still more than just Mom and Dad.”

When you’re ready to resume, here are some tips you should keep in mind–

1. Take It Slow– Your body might feel some new sensations at first, especially if your vagina is feeling tight, dry, or there is lingering pain from tearing. So, be gentle and take it slow.

2. Use Lubrication– Vaginal dryness is common due to hormonal changes. Lube will help lessen any friction that might be painful.

3. Pump or Breastfeed Before– Breasts that are full of milk will be more heavy, sensitive to touch, and could potentially leak. Emptying will eliminate that obstacle.

4. Find Alone Time– Make sure you are carving out time where you are alone to communicate, laugh, and simply give each other your undivided attention. Quality time together will also increase your desire to be intimate.

5. Foreplay– Because a low sex drive is common for postpartum moms, it’s essential to have a build up of touching, caressing, and kissing. To help stimulate arousal, try the Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum. One reviewer & mother named Michelle said this, “I can’t remember the last time my husband and I actually made love. And I’ve been having babies and breastfeeding for over 3 years, so I haven’t exactly wanted it! But last night, I am pleased to say that Vella is, no joke, probably going to save our marriage! I will always have this in my bedside table! Thank you, Vella!”

6. Leave The Bedroom– Mix it up to make it more fun. Try out a new location in your house, maybe the laundry room or the sofa?

7. Find Sex Positions That Feel Good– This is important! Which is why we’re expanding on it below.

Post Pregnancy Sex Positions

Comfort and control are two words that will determine the success of your initial sex experiences. We have 4 positions that will be more comfortable if you’ve had a C-section, episiotomy, or are simply scared of pain and will give you control over the depth of penetration.

1. Missionary– If you are on top, you can determine depth and speed.

2. Doggy PillowAccording to Women's Day, “Some women may experience a pinching feeling in their scar tissue during postpartum sex, so a good way to reduce pressure at the scar site is to use pillows as support under your stomach while in the doggy style position. This means less pressure and strain on you because you're using pillows as support instead of lifting yourself up.”

3. Spooning– This position is ideal for those who had a cesarean because it keeps pressure off of the scar. This position also gives the women control over speed and depth.

4. Chair Sex– With the woman on top, she can rock back and forth without putting pressure on her perineum or C-section.

Try out these positions in the beginning and as you get braver, you can add in more flair. Sex is important, and you deserve to enjoy it. Before baby, after baby, and everywhere in between. Sex is a connection. Not only does sex represent a part of your connection with your partner, but also with yourself. Committing to increasing satisfaction is a form of self-care and relationship care.” It’s okay to start small, but make sure you start.

“Sex is important, and you deserve to enjoy it. Before baby, after baby, and everywhere in between. Sex is a connection. Not only does sex represent a part of your connection with your partner, but also with yourself.”

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