Restoring sεxual intimacy after giving birth—what you need to know

sεxual intimacy after giving birth

Having a baby can be one of the most memorable moments in a woman's life, and can bring about changes that make returning to pre-pregnancy activities difficult.

Effects of pregnancy and delivery on libido

The hormones estrogen and progesterone are crucial to your baby’s healthy development during pregnancy. They also happen to be vital to your sex drive.

The levels of these hormones are incredibly high during pregnancy. Once the baby is born, they decline dramatically, back to pre-pregnancy levels.

That means you may not feel any sexual desire for a few weeks. But you should be waiting four to six weeks anyway, as your body recovers.

After your doctor has given you the all-clear to resume sexual activities, you may decide to wait longer before reigniting your sex life. One study found that 89 percent of women had resumed sexual activity within six months of giving birth.

If you’re breastfeeding, it may take more time for your libido to return than it would for women who aren’t breastfeeding. That’s because breastfeeding keeps estrogen levels low.

Estrogen supplements are discouraged if you’re breastfeeding because it may impact milk production.

When you couple changes in hormones with the fatigue of being a parent to a newborn, you and your partner may not feel like intimacy is even on the books.

As your body adjusts to its new normal or once you stop breastfeeding, the hormones will begin working again, and your libido should return.

Restoring sεxual intimacy after giving birth

After many months of pregnancy, and possibly abstinence, most couples are eager to return to their previous level of intimacy. One of the first questions I am asked at the post-partum visit is, "when will it be okay for us to have sεx?" Of course, the answer may vary slightly from woman to woman, but the majority of women are ready at around 4-6 weeks simply because it takes that long for lacerations and tears to heal.

Just because physical wounds are healed, it doesn’t mean that the body is healed and ready to go. Women’s bodies heal at different rates and times and it really makes a difference in hormone balance if the baby is being breastfed or bottle-fed. A woman who is breastfeeding has lower estrogen levels and higher prolactin levels to aid the body in making breast milk. It may take longer for her sεxual desire to return.

We all know that men are sensitive and more visual than women so their desire is aroused easily. Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated for women because of the extreme physical changes in their bodies and severe hormone changes. She may not feel attracted to her mate or afraid sεx might hurt. The post-partum visit just could not be more important as all these concerns can be looked into. For instance, the physical exam and pap smear can be used to help alleviate the fear of penile penetration. The skilled clinician can demonstrate to the patient how to use lubrication and pinpoint the area or areas of discomfort and how to manage them.

The post-partum sεxual desire for women depends on much more than genital stimulation and penile penetration. It involves a woman’s self and body image, sεxual desire and motivation as fatigue and care of a newborn can drain away all energy for sεxual play, the ability to set aside the “mommy” role and convert to wife and sεxual partner. The presence of a loving, patient partner goes a long way toward complete healing, and relationship healing for a complete, healthy family.

Tips for a healthy sex life with your partner post-pregnancy

You can have a healthy, fulfilling sex life post-pregnancy. These tips might help:

  • Take it slow. In the first weeks after you’ve been cleared for sex, your body may not be ready to jump back to pre-pregnancy activities. Take things one day at a time. Try intimate activities to warm up to sex again, such as massage.

  • Increase foreplay. Give your vagina time to produce its own natural lubrication. Stretch out foreplay, try mutual masturbation, or engage in other activities before penetrative sex.

  • Use a lubricant. You may need a little help with lubrication as your hormones readjust. Look for a water-based option. Oil-based lubes can damage condoms and irritate sensitive tissue.

  • Practice Kegels. Kegel exercises help rebuild pelvic floor muscles. This can help with common postdelivery issues, like incontinence. Exercising the muscles can also help you regain strength and sensation in your vagina. Build up your stamina by doing longer holds.

  • Make time for sex. With a new baby in the house, you and your partner may not have a lot of time for spontaneity. Put time on your calendars to be together. This way, you won’t be rushed or anxious.

  • Talk with your partner. Sex after delivery is different, not bad. Different can be fun and exciting, but you should keep an open dialogue with your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t. This will help you enjoy sex again and make sure you’re not experiencing any unnecessary pain.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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