This post needs a preface. I believe sex is sacred, for bringing children into the world and bringing couples closer together. Our current culture is far too casual about sex, promiscuity is widely accepted and media turns the act into a joke with little emphasis on the consequences of such a cavalier attitude toward something so special. My goal with this post is to offer my perspective on postnatal sex without making light of it. If you know me in real life and the thought of me writing about my experience with intimacy after baby is a little too much I suggest you stop reading now.
This guy is darling. And so totally worth it.
But I can’t deny that he’s had an effect on our relationship as a couple. I admit I am a little tired of every woman making babies out to be the end of your sex life though, because in my experience it just isn’t true. It’s worse in some ways, different in others, and, believe it or not, better in others. That is why I wanted to write this post.
First though, I think there is one thing you can do that will make a difference at the time of birth, especially if you have a vaginal birth. Avoid that scissor-happy doctor, and find someone with a low episiotomy rate. It’s common sense to assume that someone artificially ripping open your vagina will have lasting repercussions, and I specifically found a midwife who believes that cutting is rarely necessary and who employed techniques to prevent tearing as much as possible.
When it came to us deciding when to resume activities I didn’t care about the advice of any doctor (I personally found their advice to be impersonal and it didn’t seem like they took a single moment to think about my own vagina and what would be best for it (and be “they” I mean the two different OBGYNs I saw in a matter of weeks a few months ago)), I made the decision based on my own comfort level and what I wanted.
I did have a slight tear in my perineum, and for the first few months things were very tender. There is a reason my midwife told me to use buckets of lubricant, it made a huge difference. Tell your SO that you need to take things slowly, and focus all of your thoughts on relaxing. I was very scared that it would hurt, and getting worked up only made things worse.
Probably the worst thing for me is “bad body thoughts”. I have to work incredibly hard not to focus on my blubbery belly, because there isn’t anything that ruins the moment like focusing on how fat you feel. This isn’t anything TH does to me, it’s ALL ME. He does a wonderful job of conveying his attraction to me, and has done so since day one of our relationship. The only way for me to cure this will be eating less and exercising more, and I know that.
It’s almost like the landscape of my vagina has changed. Intercourse feels different because the layout has been altered a bit. The area where I tore is slightly tender, but at almost 6 months out I don’t think I would say it’s painful. Of course we also have to time things around a crying baby, but with only one child I think it wouldn’t be difficult for any couple to have the same frequency that they did before.
Having a baby has done one great thing for our time in the bedroom, we’ve really had to focus on communication. I need to speak up and tell him if I’m not 100% comfortable. Having a baby has forced us to start over in some really lovely ways, and I love the way our relationship has deepened. Screaming baby and recovering body make sex a bit more complicated than it was before, but adding in those elements has only given us more depth, and more opportunities to work to make things better.
To anyone who is feeling scared my advice would be:
Don’t be afraid to tell your partner no if you aren’t ready to resume your nuzzling.
Lube! And lots of it.
Talk about what you like, and don’t like. It feels weird and raw, and I know it’s hard, but it’s the best possible thing you can do.
Voice your fears. Let your SO know that you are nervous, that your body feels different and that you’re going to have to start over in some ways. Of course, if you’re like me, you might find that starting over can make some things even better.
Relax. It’s much more comfortable when you aren’t tense.
I wrote this post for the same reason I wrote my postpartum recovery post, because I wanted to share a perspective different than what I’ve read. I’m all for honesty, but it feels like sometimes we only hear about the extremes. Either it’s awful (WORST THING EVER YOU’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN SAY GOODBYE TO THE GOOD TIMES) or it’s no big deal so you shouldn’t worry about it. I’m guessing that most women with uncomplicated labors like mine experience something somewhere in the middle of awful and no big deal, just like I did. It’s somehow worse, different, and better all at the same time, and I think you can find a way to make it work for you with a little bit of communication and a whole lot of patience.