One of the questions that is probably on your (or your spouse’s) mind even before the baby arrives is, ‘when will we have sex again?’, or ‘will sex feel the same again?’
While there may be a more definitive answer to the first question (the best gauge is to wait for your gynae to give you the go ahead at your post natal check up), the second question – Will sex feel the same again? – may trigger a greater sense of nervousness than excitement for most mothers. The short answer to the question?
BUT, it will get better. To be very blunt, when your body is recovering from having birthed what felt like a watermelon and you are surviving on minimal sleep, the last thing on your mind would be sexual intimacy. And while there are moments where we may feel sorry for the husband, it can also feel very difficult for the mother to be squeezing the last bit of energy for her partner after a whole day of caring for the baby.
The woman’s post natal body will take a while to recover, and this ranges from a few weeks to a few months for different women. While one’s full breasts and sensitive nipples may sound like the perfect recipe for some action in the bedroom, it may feel very different when you begin to try having sex again for the first time after baby.
The challenges you and your spouse might face and how you can overcome it:
• Vaginal Dryness
A common problem that many breastfeeding mothers face, this can be overcome with some practice. Try using some lubricating gel if you are comfortable with it during foreplay. If you are experiencing dryness due to difficulty in becoming aroused, let your spouse know and try to work on that first. At the same time, how you become aroused prior to childbirth may not be as effective as after childbirth as your body adjusts and you may feel different about your body.
Whether you had a vaginal or a caesarean delivery, you may still be dealing with some pain during the first few attempts at sexual intercourse. Your perineal area may still feel sore and sensitive for some time, while a C-sect scar may feel sensitive when pressure is placed on it. For the former, tell your partner to be gentle during the initial attempts at penetration and constantly communicate on how comfortable or uncomfortable when necessary. As for the latter, you may need to experiment with different positions to find one which would not place pressure on your wound. You could also try placing a small cushion on the scar, between you and your partner so that some pressure is taken off the wound while you attempt a certain position.
This is a very common challenge as most mothers would be exhausted after a full day (and night!) of looking after the baby. Try to choose a time when you know you will be undisturbed, for e.g. during baby’s naptime/bedtime. You could also attempt foreplay without full penetration yet, to allow yourself and your spouse some time to be comfortable in being intimate again. At the same time, remember to keep yourself well hydrated, fed and rested.
• Emotional Preparedness
As a mother, you may feel differently about your body after childbirth, and/or your husband could be adjusting to certain things too, about you, the baby and being a father. These may affect your and/or his perceptions toward sexual intercourse. Talk to each other to find out if any uncertainties exist so that you can address and tackle them.
At the same time, if baby is sharing the room with the both of you, you or your spouse may feel uncomfortable at having someone else in the room during your attempts at intercourse. You can try to be as quiet as possible, or if baby is sleeping in a cot, throw a cloth over the rails so that nothing can be seen should the baby wake up in the midst of intimacy. If you are doing it at night, be assured that your child does not have incredible night vision to see what is going on, nor would they be likely to understand what is going on at all.
As with most things that come with parenthood, your sexual life may take on a slightly different routine and outlook for a few weeks or months as you figure out what works best for you both. Remember that ultimately, it is working towards building a deeper understanding of each other in your marriage and of the love for one another.
By Ruth Mak