5 Things to Remember Before Having Sex After Baby
Your lives have just changed.
Your body has changed.
Your needs, capacity, and focus have also changed, but it is important to [eventually] nurture the intimate side of your relationship.
So, when will you be ready? Here is the tough part – there is not a magical prescribed length of time that works for everybody, it really is all about you and your recovery. Some may be good and ready after the 6-week checkup, but others may find that they don’t have S-E-X on the brain for even months after becoming a parent. Let’s be real – a lot happens “down there” during the pushing process. It’s normal to have reservations for a variety of reasons. Some are worried that too much has changed, that they can’t relax with baby around, that sex might be painful, or, if your birth was a bit traumatic you might not be ready mentally.
If you’re reading this, you’re getting there! Today we want to share with you 5 great pieces of advice from Pelvic Floor Therapist, Aliya Dhalla, that will help you discover your body again, and decide when the time is right for you to have sex for the first time after having your baby.
Rediscover your bodyLook at not only your body, but specifically look at your vagina – it might feel a little bit weird at first but seriously, grab a mirror and take a peek once you are ready.
Do you have any scars from delivery?
How does that scar feel?
Is it tender in some spots?
Does it move easily?
If there’s no scaring, your body, though it may feel the same, is different after having a baby and you could still experience some pain during sex. Your muscles had the workout of a lifetime and could be resting slightly differently than before. Even if you had a caesarean, your body has changed, and you really do need to rediscover how things feel. Your perineum was stretched during labour, but it also gets stretched during penetrative sex as well – so has the space between your vagina and anus changed? Slowly explore the inside as well, and be gentle with yourself.
Focus on your breathNow, it’s time to breathe. Breathing and how we breathe has a huge impact during sex. Not only does it help your body relax, but it also helps you get into the right mindset, and it even helps your pelvic floor. That’s right, your diaphragm (those are your breathing muscles for those of us that blocked out learning an instrument in school!) and your pelvic floor muscles work together – and how they work together is really important!
Let’s do it together right now – breathe in through your nose (smell the flowers), open up your ribcage and fill up that belly. Now blow out the candles!
Stopping to take big diaphragmatic breathes not only centres you, but you can literally feel your pelvic floor unclench as you take that big juicy breath. That’s the important bit: getting your pelvic floor muscles moving. Our goal here is to loosen up. Every day, we tense up without even noticing – so find a moment to take those deep breaths periodically in your day-to-day life and relieve a little stress.
StretchThis time, we’re not just talking about our pelvic floor muscles – we need to loosen our hips too. Doing simple stretches that are comfortable for you is a nice way to do this. Pigeon pose, or butterfly poses, are perfect hip opening stretches. Even a child’s pose with your knees wide will help stretch out and open your hips. Find a stretch that is comfortable and works for your body.
Go Solo firstAll of these tips were meant to help you rediscover your body. Now, Aliya suggests learning what your new body finds pleasurable. Take time and play by yourself before you engage with your partner. Some things that you liked before might not feel the same, or may not even feel good at all now. Take some time to reflect on how you feel emotionally and physically and remember to always communicate with your partner about what feels good, and what they need to avoid.
Always use lubeIf you feel ready to have penetrative sex, a great tip is to use a lot of lubrication. Your hormones were ALL over the place from pregnancy, but things may still be a little off in the 4th trimester too.
If you’re breastfeeding, the hormones in your body are making sure there’s lots of milk ready for your baby, which can make you feel dry. A water-based lube is a popular choice as it won’t stain your sheets, is easy on all skin types, and washes off easier when you’re done. Aliyah suggests that however much lube you think you need, use that and then some more.
Moving ForwardTake things slow and don’t forget that your partner cannot read your mind and, above all – communicate your needs, likes, and dislikes. Once your body is ready and your mind is ready then you might be ready for a romantic romp with your partner.
If you are looking for more information on postpartum recovery, your pelvic floor, or learning to love your body after a baby, check out our podcast 40 Weeks to Forever. In Episode 3 - Pushing, Poop, & Your Postpartum Body, we chatted with Pelvic Floor Therapist, Aliya Dhalla, about how to regain your quality of life post-baby.