Written by: Cally Worden
The arrival of a new baby takes its toll on all the family, especially on Mum. The rigours of birth can play havoc with your lady-bits, and the sleepless nights and exhaustion of breastfeeding leave many new Mums in a zombie-like state for weeks. Safe to say, then, that sex is not really a burning priority. For new Dads, however, unburdened by the physical demands of producing their offspring, the deflation of the baby-bump marks the return of the opportunity for a little action between the sheets.
Knowing the facts about Sex After Birth can help new Dads to approach the issue sensitively with their partners, so for all new Daddies out there – here is what you need to know.
How soon can we have sex again?
Ask a medical expert and the answer will generally be to wait around six weeks after the birth before first having sex again. This is just a general guideline – some women may feel ready much sooner, while for others the physical and emotional side effects of the birth may delay the return of their libido for much longer. Every birth is different and complications such as stitches, an episiotomy, or other vaginal tearing, can take many weeks to heal. Wounds such as these can also make a woman feel self-conscious and protective about her body. Give her time.
If your partner feels ready, then it’s fine to try as soon as you like. Just remember to be gentle, and stop immediately if your partner feels any pain or discomfort. It’s a bit like having sex for the first time again. You’re both finding your way around a body-landscape that may have changed significantly. There are also many other ways you can be intimate without indulging in penetrative sex. Kissing, stroking, mutual masturbation and oral sex can all help to lead you back to normal business again.
Do we need to think about contraception?
The pregnancy days, when birth control became a distant memory, are sadly over. Women are not usually immediately fertile again after birth, and breastfeeding hormones can further inhibit fertility, but there is knowing how long this state will last. In the two weeks before her first post-birth menstrual cycle your partner will be very fertile indeed, and neither of you will know it. You need to take precautions. You may need to consider alternatives to your normal contraception, especially if your partner is breastfeeding. Have a chat with your GP about appropriate solutions if you are unsure.
Why is my partner not keen?
When all birthing wounds are healed there is no physical reason why women cannot return to having sex. Yet many don’t feel ready for it until many months after birth. This can make new Dads feel rejected, and concerned they may be doing something wrong. There may be many reasons why your partner isn’t in the mood. She may be tired, worried about pain, or simply just not feeling it right now. The hormones in her body can take a long time to settle after having a baby, and can have a dramatic effect on how she feels about sex. Her lack of interest is unlikely to be related to anything the new Dad is doing or not doing.
The best advice for new Dads in this situation is to remain affectionate, loving and attentive to your partner. Compliments are always welcome, and avoid placing any pressure on her to have sex again if she is simply not ready. In a sense, women give up their bodies for a while when they are pregnant and breastfeeding – to the growing baby who now needs milk all day long, and to the midwives and doctors who monitor and help with the pregnancy and birth. After all this it can take a while to feel like her body is her own again. And once she does she may take a while before she is ready to share it again. Try not to take this personally. In all likelihood you partner is feeling more loved-up with you than ever – you just created this amazing little person together!
What can I do to woo her?
For many new Mums romance with you is one thing they will have been missing dearly. Consumed with love for this new baby-bundle, you may both need reminding to direct some of that love at each other again too. Plan a date night where you cook her a meal, leave little notes for your partner, offer her a massage, bring her flowers ‘just because’. And when you do get physical keep it simple to begin with. Hand holding, cuddling, kissing. No pressure. Remind her what is it to be a woman again, not just a Mum. And you will find that she makes he own way back to you sexually in her own time.
When you do return to the land of grown-ups and enjoy your first post-birth sexual encounter don’t expect too much. You partner’s body and sensitivities may have changed. She may be dry, not from lack of arousal, but as a result of those pesky hormones again. Have some lubricant to hand just in case. Find a position that is comfortable for you both, and enjoy the exploration of each other all over again. And be aware that your adult time may be interrupted by your baby. They seem to have a sixth sense for this kind of timing. Keep your sense of humour – it’s one of the most essential traits any parent can have!