Unfathomably, while dealing with all the discomforts and tribulations of post-birth recovery, someone such as your husband, boyfriend, partner or a total rando will want to get it on with you after you have a baby. This will happen well before it even occurred to you that you even could get it on. Is that even possible? Does that person know what went on down there?!
If it seemed like pregnancy itself was full of sticky-trap messages about what to care about and not care about, so is post-birth, when you are supposed to simultaneously heal your way into new motherhood and transform into a ferocious, MILFy kitten in the sack who has magically reinhabited your old vagina like a NSFW Freaky Friday version of Body Snatchers.
Did you know that even if you are zombie-tired and your vagina feels like a slinky that your number-one goal (after your other number-one goals of taking care of your baby, taking care of yourself, figuring out your career and working on your communication with your partner) should be having sex with that partner as soon as possible?
But it's for a good reason: because having sex after the baby helps you heal quicker. Just kidding; it's because if you let your groove slip away for too long, it'll be out the door and down the street in your neighbor's bedroom before you can say "butt plug." D'oh!
As always, you'll turn to lady mags and Internet communities for comfort, where exactly zero of the pieces helping you navigate this steamy road will be titled "Take as Long as You Damn Well Please to Do It Again." Instead, they will be called things like "How to Get Your Love Life Back" and "Six Ways to Steam Up Your Sex Life." You'll read about "How to Get Your Groove Back" and "How to Have Great Sex After Having a Baby!"
And always, with the finger-wagging refrain, get back to the doing and having of the sex as fast as possible, or else, sad trombone, your relationship is DOOMED FOREVER. Can you spell divorce? Does it have fewer letters than lingerie? You could be in trouble. Good thing loose-fitting jeans with an elastic waistband come in handy for being UTTERLY ALONE (with your baby).
But what none of this is helping any freshly birthed baby mama do is figure out how she actually feels about sex now. After all, you're the one with the slinky vagina, remember? Conventional wisdom is changing about when it's actually OK to have sex -- typically, caregivers say six weeks is a solid bet, but more and more these days, they say after two weeks, or when the bleeding stops, you are OK to go. (Check, as always, with your doctor.)
But assuming your equipment is in mint condish, whether you actually want to get to cuddling after the mind-numbing work of caring for a newborn is and should be the biggest determining factor in how to proceed down the tenuous path of doin' the dirty post-baby. Here are the four types of women you might see in the mirror when it comes to post-birth sex.
Hot and Cold
Like being stuck in the throes of menopausal madness, you don't know if you're coming (ha! You're definitely not coming) or going. One minute you want your partner all over you like white on rice, and the next minute you would be totally cool if he disappeared forever into the bowels of hell. Freezing hell. This may sound like an agonizing place to be in, and it no doubt is, to say nothing of how maddening it is to try to schedule sex in this condition, but at least it means you've still got the fire rumbling in there somewhere -- it's just unregulated.
Protip: When you feel the heat rising at an opportune moment, go with it. Don't talk yourself out of it on account of it being late, or you being tired, or there always being laundry to fold. Announce that business is open and your partner better get it while the getting is good. That technique has the added benefit of a sense of spontaneity, but allows you to retain the control you need over when and how this goes down.
Hot Hot Hot
You're on, you're on, you're on and you're never off. If somehow you've been blessed with being horny as hell now that this baby is out of you, you don't need my help; you need to help me. And others.
Protip: Become a sex surrogate? Shut up already?
Cold as Ice
If you're as cold as a Foreigner song in Alaska and the idea of sex makes you want to crawl back into your own vagina for the winter, then you should take as long as you damn well please to get uncomfortably back on this horse. If that time becomes longer than, say, three months, then I think you should consider why, but you should allow yourself another two months to do it. Then, if you still can't shake it, see a doctor, but only begrudgingly, and never at the one time you could be napping.
Protip: If you're just going to drop out of doing it altogether for nearly half a year, I suggest being an intoxicating conversationalist. In lieu of that, try handjobs. Even a poorly done one will get the job done, and you'll still have one hand free to do laundry.
Warm and Frightened
I'm willing to bet that lots of women would like to have sex again a few weeks after childbirth but are uncertain about how it will feel, or what their bodies will be like, or if they will just fall asleep, or worse, if their husbands will just fall asleep. It's certainly how I felt, so it must be the norm! But really, if you are into the idea but you're just not the most confident sexual being in the universe, rest assured lots of ladies are in postpartum purgatory with you.
For one, the fears about sex feeling weird or off are not unfounded. The first time I had a penis inside me again I was sure that penis was comprised of a series of steel cubes. It wasn't cold but it felt like either it or my vagina was comprised of quadrants, and I could feel things in places I didn't remember feeling them before -- or had I really been that drunk all those times?
Furthermore, everything wasn't as instantly lubed-up as it had been, and this made the steel-cube effect even more pronounced. Additionally, because of everything I was going through in this funhouse of quadrants and cubes, I felt compelled to narrate the entire experience for my husband. He'll accept your sympathy letters.
Protip: It gets better. Within a few weeks, things returned to normal and sex was no longer a cube-y, quadrant-y terror but rather as good as new again. In some ways, actually better. What they say about the closeness of experiencing childbirth with someone you love and how that can turn up the heat in the bedroom is super true, even if you're working with one super-heated-up cube at first.
Excerpted from Oops! How to Rock the Mother of All Surprises: A Positive Guide to Your Unexpected Pregnancy, available at Amazon and B&N. Copyright © 2013 by Tracy Moore and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.