Sex After Child Birth: The Things No-one Tells You And What You Need To Know - Women's Health

Sex After Child Birth: The Things No-one Tells You And What You Need To Know

From leaky boobs to vaginal dryness, a lot can change when it comes to postpartum sex.

When first-time mothers are expecting, most envision a return to sex after the advised six-week wait. Sure, the idea of a newborn in the house might be something of a dampener when it comes to reigniting the spark of intimacy and passion, but that hasn’t stopped anyone in the past. The reality though, is a far different picture. For many women, sexual function declines during pregnancy and doesn’t return to its baseline during the postpartum period, according to reports from the ABC. 

Research indicates that as high as 83 per cent of women at two to three months postpartum report not wanting or enjoying sex, compared to 38 per cent at six months. Even at 18 months later, women still report having much lower levels of sexual pleasure and emotional satisfaction. After having a baby, it’s understandable that most women would feel less than “up-for-it”, but over time as desire returns and you feel ready to slide back under the sheets with your partner, the shock of dining that things don’t exactly pick up where they left off can be a jarring discovery. 

Where once you may have had no trouble reaching orgasm with your partner, now it’s just not happening – and it’s not necessarily down to the baby alone. Most women who have had a baby have heard the term “pelvic floor”, though we don’t often know exactly what it does or how we could benefit form being more aware. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sit within your pelvis and are responsible for supporting the organs of your pelvis when they come under load like jumping, coughing or sneezing. As well as helping to keep you continent, they also enable you to have an orgasm. 

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During childbirth, the muscles of the pelvic floor can be stretched and damaged, and in some women this leads to an inability to experience orgasm. This can leave women wondering why and potentially impact the relationship she has with her partner. Booking in with an experienced women’s health physiotherapist for a pelvic floor assessment can be extremely beneficial and help establish a pelvic floor rehab routine. 

But while some simply put it down to a complicated birth experience, even those who had a relatively straightforward birth aren’t immune to the countless physical and emotional changes that take place following delivery. As one mother described in an interview with HuffPost, she was surprised by how “beat up” her body was after giving birth. 

“It took me six weeks to feel ‘normal’ in terms of my girly parts – and I had a vaginal quick delivery! Also, I felt like I was in a hormonal altered state,” she said. “Almost like I had a new and completely different body, swollen breasts, no sex drive and was hyperemotional.”

Other factors can include a lack of natural lubrication, with many mothers noting that they had to resort to lube or more foreplay, you can also consider using things like sex toys. Others note that breastfeeding can leave you feeling drained and fatigued, with the last thing you want being someone else touching your body. If you have sex while nursing, you can also expect to leak milk, meaning boob play might be off the table for some time. 

Importantly though, most attest to the fact that while things can feel unusual or a little painful at first, it gets better with time. As The Postpartum Effect noted, “After having a vaginal birth back to back – my children are almost 12 months apart – things just weren’t the same down there. Positions that once were comfortable and enjoyable ended up resulting in pain. I had to learn to be patient and so did my husband. On the bright side, it does get much, much better.”

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