Emotions usually run high the first time a woman makes love after giving birth. For many, the tenuous transition into sex post-childbirth can be a bit like revisiting virginity. Tender and sore, many new mothers feel apprehensive and ill-prepared for intimate contact. The groin area can feel almost foreign to some, especially given stitches and the trauma typical of birth. So how does a mom cope in reclaiming her sex life post-pregnancy?
1. Get the green light from your doctor.
The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting four to six weeks after giving birth, whether vaginally or by C-section, before having sexual intercourse. This is because your body needs time to recover, allowing for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop and lacerations or tears to heal. So check in with your doctor or nurse practitioner to ensure that everything is healed and that you're good to go in resuming sex play. Such reassurance will help psychologically, when intimate, as well.
2. Avoid putting pressure on yourself.
Whether you've got a partner antsy to get sexually active again or you feel like all of the other Hot Mamas you know are already busy in the bedroom, don't put pressure on yourself to put out until you're ready. Sex is supposed to be pleasurable, and if you're not in the right state of mind or if your body isn't ready, then give yourself a break -- no excuses.
You can still support your partner's sexual needs, e.g., encouraging masturbation and the use of erotica, or assisting with arousal using sexual enhancements. Communicate with each other about barriers preventing you from sexually connecting, then formulate a game plan for dealing with any issues over the next few weeks or months. Realize, too, that a lot of women who are sexually active within weeks of childbirth are really taking one for the team. Asked point blank, most new moms will confess that sexual intimacy is the last thing on their mind; all they want is sleep!
3. Take a time-out for yourself.
Women can do many things, and impressively at that, but hopping in the saddle after popping out a baby is a lot to expect of us. Before you can nurture your sex life, you need to nurture yourself. Whenever you can steal moments, become acquainted with your new body. Thank it for all it has done. Take care of it with a sensual bath or massage. Check in with your hot spots and your vulva, realizing that you may be sensitive -- and in a good way -- in new places now. Some women find certain areas of their body more erogenous than they were pre-pregnancy.
4. Continue practicing your Kegels.
Fear not, Hot Mama, your vagina will go back to functional form. After having sex again, women generally perceive vaginal tension as unchanged or tighter (though about 20 percent say it's slacker after the baby's passage). Most sexy mamas who stick with their Kegel routine religiously enjoy more pleasingly taut entry during post-partum sex sessions than during or before pregnancy. Obviously, this can rely on a number of factors, including episiotomy and repair and vaginal muscle tone.
Regardless of what challenges childbirth has posed, pelvic floor muscle exercises will help you to gain control over this region of the body, with payoffs over time. As mentioned in my co-authored book, Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mama Should Know, many women are pleased to find that, based on the rigors of their pelvic floor muscle regime during and after pregnancy, their vaginal muscle tone and skill have increased rather than decreased as a result of childbirth.
5. Check in with your partner.
Your partner may have post-birth trauma, having seen your insides splayed out in holy repose as your babe passed through the birth canal. These images can do wonders to halt a sex life, induce paranoia and incite fear of the unknown. Do yourself a favor and address this as a possible issue, especially if your lover seems to be the timid one in resuming sexual activity.
6. Practice patience.
The key to an erotic endeavor post-pregnancy is taking your time. Some mothers may feel traumatized by the experience of having been, quite literally, split wide open. The prospect of allowing anything -- small or large -- to enter the vaginal area can seem more than daunting, so patience is a virtue! As you resume lovemaking, avoid the quickie mentality, aiming for slow sex.
7. Don't have pre-pregnancy sexpectations.
Your body has changed. You have changed. Your sexual desire has changed, as in probably diminished greatly (especially if you're breastfeeding). Your sex life is likely to have changed. But, in many ways, this can be for the better -- with the right attitude. Understanding that healing and rediscovery are beautiful parts of the parental metamorphosis and embracing the changes rather than resisting them are the keys to resuming a happy and healthy sex life.
8. Don't let body image issues own you.
So your skinny jeans don't fit -- and may not for at least a while. Quit beating yourself up! You just gave birth!! And no matter how you feel about yourself, you are the ultimate sex goddess in having given of your mind, body and soul, for nine months, to give and sustain life.
Your body has just been through a great deal of change and even trauma, so you need to be kind to it and love it. Let your partner properly make love to it, because it's a body that should be worshipped! So take off that T-shirt and show your lover what a M.I.L.F. you've become (especially while you've got those amazing mom boobs to boot)!
9. Have lube handy.
Using lubricant is especially important if you're breastfeeding, as it can have a drying effect on the vagina. So use at least a couple of drops of your favorite lube in making your "sexperience" easier and more pleasurable.
10. Opt for sleep over sex.
You may feel totally overwhelmed in the days and weeks following the arrival of your child. The exhaustion is remarkable and shocking to most first-time parents. Nothing can really prepare you for it, but everyone goes through it -- everyone. This includes those claiming to have sex.
So, don't beat yourselves up if you'd rather sleep than have sex. You need to recharge more than anything if you are to find the energy to take care of your baby, your partner, yourself and your sex life.